By Nathan Straus

nstraus@jacksonvilleprogress.com

A technological update of 24 computers has arrived at Jacksonville College this semester. These machines replaced older equipment in the C.R. Meadows Building’s computer lab.

Michael Creech, director of information technology, said they arrived just after the start of the fall semester.

“We’re going to cannibalize parts from the older computers to further upgrade the newer ones,” he added.

In addition, the computers not broken up for salvageable parts will be put to use as a part of the faculty’s campaign to increase student awareness of things on campus, Creech said. Combined with flatscreen monitors, these will transmit full color announcements to campus buildings for students to read.

Of the computers added to the college’s stock, 20 went to the computer lab for student use and four were given to staff members as upgrades. Each computer has a flatscreen monitor to go with it, he said.

Funds for these purchases came from the college’s information technology budget. Each computer, according to a printed receipt, comes from Dell at about $554.25 each. Though these are all leased, Creech said at the end of the college’s three-year lease term it will have the option to purchase the computers for an additional dollar.

The computers have a 160-gigabyte hard drive with a 4-gigabyte memory with 2.8-gigahertz processing speed. This means they’re modern computers and will perform well in the future.

“We’ve kind of future-proofed that lab a little bit,” Creech said.

Uses for the machines will include student work in the college’s computer science courses where students will learn to use Microsoft Office programs. They will also work with the computers in programming courses and the math labs.

Upgrading the equipment is part of Jacksonville College’s quality enhancement plan, which is geared toward the courses and a better setting for classroom instruction and staff development technology.

Marolyn Welch, chair of the school’s quality enhancement plan, said the up-to-date computers are part of the teaching innovation facet of the plan.

“It’s in-depth and transformative,” she stated.

There are four primary strategies associated with the plan. These spell out the acronym MATH: Motivation, Advising, Teaching innovations and Higher level thinking. Improved technology is a part of teaching innovations, and the plan is part of the college’s accreditation process.

Jessica Lanier, a freshman from Jacksonville, said the computers are very fast.

“They’re high speed, it doesn’t take forever,” she said.

Daniel Jones, a freshman from San Antonio, agreed with the computers being fast, but noted the Internet is slow. He uses the computers to improve his math skills.

“I’m excited about these computers,” Creech said. “We should be ready for anything in the next couple of years.”

According to Creech, the new equipment is capable of running Windows 7, the next Windows operating system scheduled to be released for PCs.

Unlike other computer labs around campus, the Meadows building lab with the newer computers will only rarely be open to the public. Most of the people who use the computers will be either students or faculty members.

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