A new campus-wide printing system was installed at Elon University this summer, intending to make the printing process more efficient. Even though users haven’t asked for help from Campus Technology, some say the new system is difficult to navigate.
With the old system, users had to download various print drivers to correspond to different printing locations around campus. The upgraded system has universal print drivers that allow faculty, staff and students to “send files to one printer on their computer and be able to print those documents at any HP or Xerox print station on campus.”
Campus Technology began talking about printing upgrades since last spring in an attempt to bring the school’s systems up to date as Elon grows.
Users can download the universal print drivers on personal computers using instructions on the Elon Technology Wiki at wiki.elon.edu., while computer labs and common areas on campus already have the new printing system.
“We are so much more efficient now,” said Christopher Waters, assistant vice president for technology and chief information officer. “You don’t have to know the printer’s names. You can print anywhere.”
Waters said the new system also provides Campus Technology with data that reveals how many users print to each location on campus.
“Before, we didn’t get that data,” he said. “We might learn where we need to put printers or get [higher-volume] printers.”
This information also helps Campus Technology to order supplies for printers, according to Dan Harder, director of Campus Technology Support.
“We know when we’re going to run out of toner or paper, so it helps us to buy ahead,” Harder said.
Another change in the system involves the release of documents. With the old system, users could send up to three front-to-back pages to a selected print driver, and the documents automatically printed. To print documents four-plus pages, users swiped their Phoenix cards and were required to pay.
On the new system, users must enter their Elon username to send documents to the universal print driver. They need to swipe their Phoenix card at the print station to print all documents, including those less than three pages. Students are still required to pay for print jobs more than three pages.
Waters said Elon’s old printing system resulted in a lot of wasted paper, so this change helps Elon to save resources.
“My office used to be in Belk Library, and I used to walk in and see stacks of paper without names on them,” he said. “We had no choice but to throw them away.”
Waters added that the new system is more secure than the old one.
“If you’re printing something confidential, it is printing when you’re in the same place,” he said. “This is a more secure environment for someone’s information.”
Sophomore Jasper Thomas said the new system is more convenient than the old one.
“Last year, I’d have to email something to myself and then go to the library, which was a big hassle,” Thomas said “It’s convenient to have it over one universal system. I really like it, but I haven’t used it much.”
But Thomas said he was worried that the system could experience problems.
“If [the system] were to crash, it would be bad,” he said. “That’s the only downside. If it stopped working for whatever reason, then the whole thing would be down.”
According to Waters, Campus Technology tested the system this summer to reduce the likelihood of problems occurring.
Users might have problems navigating the system at the beginning, but resources such as Belk Elite workers, the Campus Technology wiki and Campus Technology Support are there to help.
“There’s a pro and con that, by making it more flexible, you make it more complex for students,” he said. “It will take extra time to adjust.”
This school year, the printing system went down but was quickly fixed because of help from two workers in Belk Library who promptly contacted Campus Technology Support, according to Harder.
Besides calls from that day at the library, Harder said Campus Technology Support received two or three calls asking for help with the printing system as of Sept. 2. He said that his office has heard positive feedback about the system.
“We’ve received very minimal calls at the service desk,” he said. “We’ve heard it’s convenient to print [documents] from dorms and come back to campus to pick them up.”