Campus tech needs consistency

By Editorial Board

It is fundamental for a media arts school to provide students with the latest industry standard technology available. To prepare for the real world, students must be experienced in programs they will be expected to use in their fields of work. Columbia does a fine job of obtaining new software and technology as it becomes available.

It it difficult to make a sweeping change to high-definition video or set up an entire digital photography lab overnight. Students are patient and appreciative of Columbia’s efforts to stay on top of techniques in constantly evolving industries.

However, students run into challenges with program software. Some classrooms have newer versions of programs than others, and open computer labs often have older software. There have been occasions when professors haven’t taught the latest software because they are not familiar with the programs. And the eternal question still lingers: Mac or PC?

Students understand software can’t be updated across campus in one day. Columbia should prioritize software updates differently. For example, it is more essential for graphic designers in the entire Art and Design Department to have the latest version of Adobe InDesign than the Journalism Department. However, if the Journalism Department also gets the updates, software in the fifth floor open computer lab in the 33 E. Congress Parkway Building must be updated simultaneously.

Some students have also had problems with professors who are unfamiliar with new software. They said this makes the learning process very slow, or professors teach with older versions. This leaves students behind in future classes when they are expected to know how to operate the latest software. Technology changes at a rapid pace, but it is important for professors to be able to keep up and equip students the best they can. Columbia should offer workshops or seminars for professors to help prepare them for teaching new programs.

Lastly, the inconsistency of machines is frustrating. Some departments have all Macs, some have mostly PCs. But some rooms hold both, loaded with different programs. It is hard for students to keep up when the class is working on two different operating systems.

Students appreciate all Columbia does to be sure students are working with industry standard technologies. But to best prepare students for their careers, more consistency is needed from computer to computer and from professor to student.