Students share ideas on whiteboard with ITS Teaching & Learning staff members
Miriam Tardif-Douglin shares ideas with ITS Teaching & Learning staff members

When students encounter a simpler, more streamlined way of printing upon returning for the Fall 2019 semester, School of Information and Library Science classmates can take pride in knowing they helped make it happen.

Lukasz Mazur’s INLS 582 Systems Analysis class worked with ITS Teaching & Learning this past semester to improve the experience at CCI Printing printers. Miriam Tardif-Douglin, who this month completed a master of science in public health, proposed the collaboration with Teaching & Learning and served as the project lead for the class.

“We wanted to apply systems analysis tools to solve an information systems challenge,” she said. The class “wanted to work on a project that would have an impact on a lot of students across campus.” The class members’ work and recommendations, in fact, will benefit students, librarians who support the CCI Printing printers, ITS and the University.

Teaching & Learning wanted to simplify how users interact with CCI Printing printers and retrieve print jobs, thereby reducing confusion and delays. Currently, students retrieve their print jobs at a computer and keyboard set up on a desk near each printer. Lines sometimes form at the computer as students plop down their stuff and get situated to place their order.

“We spent the semester learning from Lukasz and applying what we’d learned to determine the key user (student, primarily) needs for printing, and how they apply to the new printers that will be introduced in the fall,” Tardif-Douglin said.

Switching to touchscreen printers

Closeup of hand on touchscreen portion of printer
Touchscreen printers will eliminate the need for using nearby computers and keyboards to retrieve print jobs

Teaching & Learning will eliminate those computers and keyboards near the printers. Instead, Teaching & Learning will deploy touchscreen printers at the CCI Printing print stations across campus. Users will use the login screen to release their print jobs, said Jeremiah Joyner, Manager of ITS Teaching & Learning Systems and Services. He worked with Tardif-Douglin and the SILS class.

To revamp the printing stations, Teaching & Learning also will work with Finance & Operations IT on software that will enable the printers to function as release stations. Once the software is installed, users will click on the Press Here button on the printer touch screen to log in with their Onyen and password. Then they will select their print jobs.

Many benefits to campus

Making this change, Joyner said, benefits the University in several ways. It reduces the amount of equipment, space and people needed to support a print station. Also, each printer and computer requires its own Internet Protocol (IP) address, and the campus — North America, in fact — has a shortage of this most commonly used type of IP addresses. Half the IP addresses and network ports needed for CCI Printing can be repurposed for other uses. In addition, “by using the printer to release print jobs, there are fewer devices we have to monitor, and we should have better insights into when a device is down,” Joyner said. Teaching & Learning “does not manage the release station computer, so if the computer is up but in a non-operational state, we may not see that as quickly as the printers we manage.”

Students gained ‘real client’

The goal of this project, Joyner said, “was for the students to gain experience in systems analysis by interacting with a real client. The student group would meet with our team to discuss a business problem or inefficiency and then develop a solution.”

Group shot of students who helped CCI Printing
The students gained experience in systems analysis by interacting with a real client — CCI Printing

The SILS class members interviewed students at the test locations and in the Undergraduate Library, as a baseline for the old system. They also talked to the librarians about supporting the service.

“As part of their assessment,” Joyner said, “the group interviewed students at the UL to get an idea of how users interact with the current systems. And then they observed and interviewed students using the printer touch screen to release their print jobs at our two test locations, the Stone Center Library and the Music Library in Wilson Library. We partnered with those two locations to test the system because library support desks are located next to the printers.”

Joyner added, “In addition to talking to student users, the group also talked to the library staff in the three locations, who are our partners in providing local support of the print station. The feedback has us rethinking how we can be more consistent in the information given to students about what CCI Printing is, how to begin using it and how best to get assistance.”

Simplifying the message

On display across campus, existing CCI Printing posters give students the option of printing by visiting the CCI Printing app or the CCI Printing website or by using software on their individual laptop. The posters list separate URLs for each option. To simplify that message, Teaching & Learning will begin sending users instead to one single URL. Other changes in messaging and functionality on the CCI Printing website will further simplify and improve the user experience.

Working with Teaching & Learning on this project, Tardif-Douglin said, “was a great opportunity for us students to work with a real client, define the scope of the problem, and apply systems analysis models to a real-world challenge.”

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