The computers in the University play an important role in the day-to-day activities of both students and professors. Aside from providing convenience for students, they have also been instrumental in facilitating a learning environment that is more effective and an atmosphere that is more conducive to education.
Though these computers serve various purposes, some members of the academic community have complained of how “slow”, “faulty”, and “out of date” these computers can be.
On outdated software and expected upgrades
Most computers on campus, with the exception of those in computer laboratories, have Windows XP as the default operating system (OS). Even though Windows XP is known to be a reliable OS, it is already outdated. This causes various issues such as failure to read USB flash drives and play more recent multimedia file formats, which can delay class discussions when these are used for class.
According to Information Technology Services (ITS) Director James Sy, several aspects of the classroom computers are due for upgrades, such as the OS. “There is a scheduled technology refresh of the classroom thin clients beginning this school year,” he reveals. “The upgrade is spread over three years and will cost around P7 million.”
The computers on campus are technically referred to as thin clients, because these are lightweight computers that are built to have remote access to a server. In this case, DLSU’s thin clients are connected to a main server which is managed by the ITS office.
Aside from the OS, other aspects of the classroom’s thin clients are facing problems such as crashing software, lagging browsers, and broken mice and keyboards. Sy agrees with the various complaints about the computers and explains that the machines found inside them are insufficiently equipped for hard usage.
“These are five-year-old thin clients,” Sy explains. “They have little memory and do not have hard drives. They are only equipped with the most basic features of a desktop computer. They are typically meant to be used only as terminals for remote access to more powerful desktops or servers in the data center.”
Aside from the lack of computing power, he also points out the misuse of the computers as a reason for their decline. “They are supposed to be effective for Google Apps and YouTube. However, they are not being used the way we expected,” he elaborates.
With the scheduled upgrade of the thin clients, Sy mentions that more powerful units will supersede the ones currently in use. “In the technology refresh, we will be deploying nettops,” Sy shared. He adds that nettops are also considered as thin clients, but are substantially more powerful and should be able to resolve all the complaints regarding the current thin clients.
Meanwhile, DLSU Library Administrator Aironne Mercado says that the current OS of the computers are not a big issue, since the processor for these computers are up to date. Mercado added that one of the reasons why most computers are running on Windows XP is because it has fewer bugs compared to its successor Vista.
Computers outside classrooms
The computers at the Henry Sy Sr. Hall (HSSH) and other locations in the University are also useful for various activities such as surfing the internet and creating documents. However, there are units reported to be out of service.
In order to prevent breakages and the similar incidents, Sy says that preventive maintenance is done throughout the term. “We do perform preventive maintenance on these units three times a year during term breaks,” he shares. “If our existing manpower would permit, we would consider increasing its frequency.”
In cases of breakdowns in HSSH computers, Sy mentions that the students may report directly to the Instructional Media Services located on the sixth floor of HSSH. All complaints on these computers are normally relayed to the ITS office. In addition, Mercado states that when the HSSH computers are out of service, they have it fixed as soon as possible, since students often use these computers.
According to Sy, the different devices on campus have different refresh cycles or upgrades, depending on the need and their rate of use. The computers in laboratories, for instance, are constantly upgraded every three years. The projectors, however, are upgraded in cycles of three to four years, depending on the usage. Last year, Sy says that around 100 of DLSU’s projectors had a major upgrade.
Meanwhile, HSSH computers are usually upgraded every four to five years, since they are mostly used only for surfing rather than “computing.” Those computers were installed in October 2013, and are scheduled to be updated next academic year (AY). “However, due to the onset of the lean years, we may decide to do a partial refresh, and defer some to AY 2018-2019,” Sy notes.
For many in the community, there is a growing demand for more powerful and reliable computers, given that the learning environment is rapidly changing as well. More than avoiding the delay of class discussions or eliminating the crash of certain programs, the impending upgrade of the computers will ensure better services for the academic community.