Computer Lab Change Request
Get basic information about how software is selected and how you can request software to be made available in the student labs.
While some lab images are updated with software patches and fixes during the semester, the majority of software installations for the year occur during the summer semester. Requests are handled in order of the earliest date requested. Although it is often difficult to plan ahead, the lengthy process that is involved in configuring the nearly 1600 computers in the 70 plus labs in our environment makes early notice vital. It is extremely important that you assess your software needs the semester before it is needed in the labs.
- There is currently an eight week turn-around from the time the installation media and licensing information is received in ITS to when it will be available in the student lab
- The total process from the time of the request to installation takes approximately 16 weeks to complete
- If purchasing the software or licenses is not necessary, the process will take about eight weeks to complete
The requests should come from the full-time instructors that will be utilizing the software as part of the curriculum. Adjunct instructors should have their department chairs or deans make their requests.
All requisitions for software for the student labs are created by ITS and all licensing and installation media is stored in ITS.
Any software that is going to be purchased for use in the student labs must be approved by ITS before it is purchased. Purchases made without ITS approval may result in a software purchase that cannot be used in the lab environment.
Involve ITS early in the process
Involving ITS from the very beginning when you are researching software allows ITS to:
- Verify the correct licensing type and quantity of licenses needed
- Verify systems requirement, both local and network, can be met
- Assist in getting accurate quotes from the software vendor
ITS may also be able to identify other software solutions that the campus may already own or can be acquired free of charge (freeware).
ITS will consider the funding requirements of software which is utilized for classes by more than one department for use in the labs and lecterns for the next fiscal year. In most circumstances, cost-sharing with the requesting departments will be required. Budget restrictions limit the ability of ITS to purchase all software requested. ITS may not purchase software that is required by individual departments or programs, however desirable that software might be for the mission of the department. Software that is used for specific classes most likely will need to be paid for by the department using it.
The software acquisition process takes about 16 weeks from start to finish. The major steps, along with an estimated time to completion for each, are listed below.
Department requests software add/change
The department requesting the change should contact the Helpdesk, either via email or using the web form. The request needs to include the following information:
- Location(s) where the software is needed
- Specific computers that require the software. For example, is the software needed on the lectern system as well?
- Faculty laptop and desktop systems that need the software installed — include PCC# and location of these systems in the request.
- What CRN(s) require this software
ITS reviews the request (two weeks)
After receiving your completed request, ITS will review the request. This process takes approximately two weeks. This review includes the following steps:
- Technical compatibility review — is this software compatible with the hardware and software currently installed on the computers?
- Existing software — it’s possible that ITS already has the software that will address this need.
- If, upon review, it is determined the software should be ordered, ITS will obtain a quote for the software, along with the license agreement
Funding and requisition (one week)
Once the quote is obtained, a funding source is needed to put in a requisition. This process takes approximately one week. The following questions must be answered before a requisition can be entered:
- Who is funding the purchase?
- Is this a first year purchase or ongoing maintenance?
- What account code will it be billed to?
ITS will enter the requisition once the funding source has been identified.
License agreement review and approval (four weeks)
After the requisition is entered, the offices of Purchasing and General Counsel must review and approve the license. In some cases, the Board of Trustees must also approve the licensing agreement. This process can take up to four weeks.
Purchase order fulfillment (one week)
After approval, the purchase can be processed. All licensing information should be forwarded to email@example.com for archiving and to keep continuity of service in ongoing years.
Software needs to arrive eight weeks prior to the semester it is needed. This will allow ample time to develop, test, and deploy a new image.
Although ITS makes every attempt to accommodate faculty software requests, occasionally certain pieces of software will simply not work within the campus network environment, not work correctly in the current OS, conflict with existing software, or constitute a threat to network security due to their design. Any software that is submitted for installation must be supported by the vendor for the current operating system in that lab. Users are encouraged to upgrade their existing curricular programs whenever possible. ITS reserves the right to remove, after notification, software that is no longer supported under an operating system when the operating system used in the computer labs is upgraded. ITS provides limited support for departmental curricular programs. What this means to you is that while we will make every effort to install the software requested and get it running, we cannot provide technical support for individual student users, or provide guidance on how to use these programs. With over 200 programs available in various labs on campus, ITS staff cannot be familiar with the details of the many programs that users request. Users are responsible for obtaining usage instructions from the vendor or other resources.
IMPORTANT: Users must deliver to ITS any special details regarding configuration of the software. If these are not provided the software will be installed using the default settings, and ITS testing will be very basic and limited to determining that the program's main page will open and close.
Changes made to the lab computers are wiped out when the machines are restarted, due to the special security hardware and software installed on them. Software that is licensed to students (often included with textbooks or sold at a nominal fee) that does not require the computer to be restarted may be used at the owner's discretion. Some CD/DVDs require the computer to be restarted after they are installed and thus must be included in the lab image. You are encouraged to go into the labs and test the CD/DVDs for yourself to see how they behave. However, if you have any doubts about a CD/DVD you are planning to use you may deliver a copy to ITS before the software request deadline and we will be happy to determine whether or not the CD/DVD will work correctly on the lab machines.
IMPORTANT: Many publishers refuse to allow student software to be permanently installed on the network or lab stations because it is not owned by or licensed to the District. Be sure to contact the publisher to determine the nature of their licensing agreements before requesting that a CD/DVD be installed on the campus computer labs and provide a written copy of such agreements to ITS. It is the requestor's responsibility to collect this licensing information and provide it to ITS with the installation media.
Building the image for a lab includes:
- Installing network software on the campus network servers
- Testing those network installations
- Installing the software that must be loaded locally on the lab machine hard drives
- Running set-up programs for the software that is delivered via the network
- Configuring individual software packages with various templates, options, etc.
- Installing drivers for printers or other peripheral devices
- Identifying and resolving conflicts between different programs
- Trouble-shooting various problems with individual pieces of software
- Freezing the image to prevent modifications and maintain stable consistency across all labs
Note: Freezing may prevent textbook CDs from loading properly.
An absolutely critical part of this process is the testing of the image. As the image is built, it is tested by ITS staff. We ask faculty/ staff to also test the new image under "real world" conditions in the lab on a designated machine or in an area ITS has setup prior to deploying the software on all machines requested. If problems are identified and fixed, the image must be re-tested and re-deployed.
ITS will not put software in the labs that has not been adequately tested, as every new piece of software carries with it the potential to interfere with existing programs and could destabilize the labs. Therefore, we try to restrict the installation of new software to periods between semesters or times when the labs are not as heavily used. Adherence to deadlines is critical to the reliable functioning of the labs.
To investigate software at any time of the year or if you have any questions about the process for software installation requests in the labs, please contact the Educational Technology Specialist, Maureen Davidson at 585-7082 or firstname.lastname@example.org.