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The Future of technology on campus

by | Oct 12, 2023 | Campus, Education | 0 comments

The Makerspace is moving while MacEwan manoeuvres some computers

The Makerspace is moving. Next summer, the section of the library that houses crafting technologies such as a vinyl cutter, a sewing machine, button makers, and 3D printers will move from its current space next to the writing centre to room 6-201V which currently operates as a library instruction lab for Macintosh computers. 

Library dean Karen Keiller says that there is a demand to expand due to high traffic in the space. The new Makerspace will be able to increase its capacity to house students and more technology.

“[Faculty] want to bring their classes into the Makerspace, but literally, you can’t fit that many people in there,” Keiller says about its current location.

“[Faculty] want to bring their classes into the Makerspace, but literally, you can’t fit that many people in there,”

Karen Keiller, Dean of the MacEwan University Library

The shift in spaces is part of many changes that have happened in the library over the past couple of years, which includes renovations, the original edition of the Makerspace, and a focus on some different technology as opposed to traditional desktop computers. 

Keiller says student need has shown that instruction labs are becoming less popular and less desirable. While there was once a time when classes would be brought to these labs for library-specific instruction, online learning has made them less necessary. 

But as the Mac lab is set to be gutted, there is a growing concern among students. As institutions like NAIT and MacEwan make changes, what kind of resources and technology will be available on campuses? 

In 2016, NAIT made a policy which allows its various programs to impose that students provide their own devices. Last year, students in the Digital Media and IT (DMIT) program were upset to learn that the heavily computer-based program was removing the computers from its labs due to what is commonly referred to as a “BYOD”, or “bring your own device” model. 

The costs for such devices can be anywhere from $1,500 to $3,500. 

In a March interview with the Nugget, NAIT’s chief info officer Daryl Allenby said, “Many other programs have already gone there, as well as institutions around us have also gone down this road.”

Despite backlash from students, which included a petition with nearly 500 signatures, NAIT confirmed with the Griff that there had been no changes to DMIT technology requirements.

“NAIT continues to provide financial aid options to reduce financial barriers,” NAIT told The Griff. These options include laptop rentals equipped with the necessary software for the school’s various programs. These rentals are available through NAIT’s library.

For SAMU’s vice president academic, Stephan Vasquez, this issue is a key part of what they are worried about on campus. Amid a cost-of-living crisis along with increased tuition — everything is becoming more expensive for students. 

Last fall, Vasquez met with MacEwan’s Information and Technology Management Committee. They were considering something similar to what NAIT had implemented with its DMIT program, but SAMU advocated heavily against the idea t and it was ultimately shot down. 

Vasquez also made it clear that MacEwan won’t be losing any computers; it will be gaining them, and not just desktops.

“Student need has shown that it’s not stations that they want — it’s laptops,” says Vasquez.

“Student need has shown that it’s not stations that they want — it’s laptops.”

VP Academic, Stephan Vasquez.

While the room for the Mac lab will be gone, the machines themselves will be distributed throughout the library and remain available for use. Nearly 20 brand-new Macs have been installed on the third level, and an additional 50 laptops (on top of the already available 300) will be added for short-term and long-term loans from the library.

Including the existing computer lab and the computer lab in Allard Hall, the new additions will bring the total number of publicly available personal computers at MacEwan to 430.

There is also a bursary available that provided laptop funds for 102 students in fall 2022 and 100 students in fall 2023 that were in financial need. Vasquez says they are advocating for increased funding. 

So, have “BYOD” models been struck out of MacEwan for good? Not necessarily. 

In programs like the Bachelor of Music, second-year students are required to have their own laptops capable of running specific software — and they’ve had this requirement for years.  

Other programs, like business, make it clear that there is no technology requirement but the school of business’s associate dean Sherif Elbarrad says its “highly desirable” that students have their own laptops. 

Other programs, like business, make it clear that there is no technology requirement, but it is highly desirable that students have their own laptops.

The university continues to improve its technology and increase the number of available on-campus computers through loans or bursaries. But the number of MacEwan students, the cost of education, and the cost of living keep rising as well.


OCTOBER PRINT CORRECTION in “The future of technology on campus” by Liam Newbigging: We reported that MacEwan’s Laptop Bursary provided laptops to 20 students. This was only during its pilot. The campus-wide bursary provided an additional 102 laptops in Fall 2022 and 100 in Fall 2023.

Liam Newbigging

The Griff


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