By Nick Stern, Senior Reporter | Photo By Nick Stern
Beginning in the current spring semester, all of the computer labs that were in the downstairs area of the Student Resource Center (SRC) at Main Campus have been removed, and now students can only access the second floor computer labs or the Assistance Center for Education (ACE) computer lab, ACE Learning Center Supervisor, Randolph Crandall said.
Crandall said that the downstairs computer labs were removed in order to turn the space into strictly computer classrooms, because of the influx of computer related classes being registered for by students.
“The change has been made to accommodate an increase in computer related classes,” Crandall said.
There are no other plans for the original downstairs lab space, except to remain as computer classrooms for the foreseeable future, Crandall said.
Though there are no plans for the original space, the now exclusive upstairs computer labs have been subject to a simple but effective change, and there are also online tools to make computer accessibility and availability an easier process, he said.
There have been additional computers added to both the library computer lab and the ACE computer lab, which is an obvious move to make now that students who want to use a computer are required to go to a more condensed area, Crandall said.
Computer Center Supervisor, Gary Woodworth said there is also a fantastic new tool that can be used by students with smart phones and other portable devices with internet access called Lab Maps.
Lab Maps can be accessed online by visiting labmaps.cnm.edu, and is a tool that was created by CNM to help students look at a diagram of every single open computer lab at every single CNM campus, he said.
Each diagram displays each computer and its location in the lab and is color-coded based on whether the computer is available, unavailable, or turned off, Woodworth said.
“Gray is off, green is open, and red is being used. It is straightforward you get out of class and you want to go to a lab and it can help you determine which lab to go to. And when you go to the lab it can help you determine where there is an open spot,” he said.
The Lab Maps tool is of great benefit to many students and that benefit increases as the size of the computer lab increases, because with Lab Maps students can walk into a crowded computer lab and with their mobile device they can pinpoint exactly where an open computer is without having to scour the entire building, he said.
Thus far Crandall has observed that the labs, especially the ACE computer lab, have many people in them, but are not full to the point of chaos and he also noticed a smaller number of students waiting for a chance to use one the computers, because there are fewer labs open, he said.
“I have noticed fewer students standing around waiting for an open machine. There are more people using the labs, but I would not categorize it (ACE lab) as overcrowded,” Crandall said.
One important thing for students who are seeking alternatives to using the open labs is that those alternatives do exist in the sense that different devices can be checked out from the library including laptops and iPads, Crandall said.
The use of the new Lab Maps program came about because CNM previously used a program called Lab Stats to track the overall amount of usage of the computers at CNM which in the fall semester of 2013 equaled 200,000 individual logins, he said.