By Katie Oglesby, News Editor and Nicole DeJacimo, Content Manager
All printers from Musselman Library have been removed and all computers have been closed off to minimize high-touch areas and reduce the density of public spaces on campus ahead of students returning to residential life in the fall, according to Robin Wagner, Dean of Musselman Library and Thomas Franza, Director of Infrastructure and Technology.
This week, Wagner told The Gettysburgian in an email that “all computer workstations and printers have been removed from the library to eliminate high-touch surfaces and reduce spaces that encouraged congregating.”
The library did this in hopes that students will be able to obtain their course materials online and professors will modify their courses so all assignments can be turned in online. Three of the four department chairs contacted by The Gettysburgian reported that they were not explicitly notified about the removal of the printers but received training on best practices for providing online resources.
Professor Kathryn Rhett, English Department Chair, plans to not require any printed materials or assignments to meet the needs of students on campus and those working remotely. “We also expect in our course planning that we’ll need maximum flexibility, in case we ourselves must switch to teaching virtually or if the campus as a whole must pivot to remote learning,” Rhett said.
Thomas Franza explained that though the computer labs in Glatfelter will close for the fall semester, the printers from the library will be moved to the study foyer in the basement of Glatfelter. This way, students can still print from their personal computers. It is unclear if any policies will be put in place to also reduce the density of students during popular times to print.
Efforts were made by the IT department and Facilities Services to keep computer labs open, but it manifested no safe options. Instead, they are working to virtualize all of the programs in the computer labs so students can still use them. Computer labs that will close and they are planning to virtualize include Glatfelter 011, 014, and 201, Plank 111, McCreary 204, and 339 Carlisle.
“We felt that any solution that was created should be able to work both on and off-campus,” said Franza. “The rationale was that anyone might have to quarantine themselves at any time, and if they did how could we continue to support their educational journey.”
Some students and faculty are already planning not to return to campus and IT along with the Educational Technology department are preparing to accommodate all circumstances. For students who do not have a personal computer or often relied on computer labs, they can sign out “loaner laptops” from G-tech for a short period of time. The college also has programs already in place to assist students who cannot afford their own technology.
“We have been working closely with Educational Technology and the faculty members who teach in these spaces so that they will be able to update/modify their syllabi,” Franza explained.
Director of Educational Technology Eric Remy noted that while much can be transferred online, such as using Moodle as a dropbox or Word for commenting on a student’s work, there are some complications that may arise. “Professors can decide exactly what they want to do here,” he said. “There are some difficulties with certain subjects like languages (especially with non-western character sets) which may require hand grading and [return] scanned/photographed pages the professor prints.”
While changes are occurring on campus, professors are being trained to handle the new environment and make the learning experience as accessible as possible to all students.