ITS gives students option to print green

The horizon of student printing looks pretty green.

This semester, Gannon University’s Information and Technology Services adopted a new student printing system, dropping Print Manager Plus in favor of a product called PaperCut. The new system tracks student printing through a credit method, whereas Print Manager Plus only counted pages.

But despite the change in system, students receive the same printing allocation per semester: $50 of credit, and at 10 cents a page, that equals the 500-page limit tallied by the old system, according to Mark Jordano, director of ITS.

“It’s definitely an upgrade,” Jordano said. “It’s got more functionality. We chose this semester to really not change any of the policies behind printing, just the system change.”

Alex Laluk, a senior physician assistant major, said he hasn’t yet taken the time to explore the new printing system.

“I’ve just been printing,” Laluk said. “To be honest, I preferred the original system.”

Dan Giannelli, manager of ITS Academic Technology, said PaperCut also offered the best bargain for all of its features.

“We talked to other universities and there were two major [systems], PaperCut and Pharos,” Gianelli said. “PaperCut was a good amount cheaper, and it essentially had the same functionality.”

While PaperCut tracks students’ printing habits at a 10-cent pace, Jordano said there’s a way to print more than 500 pages within the $50 individual allotment, and that’s by printing double-sided.

A single-sided, multi-page document will cost students 10 cents for every page printed, but that still leaves an enormous amount of white space on the unprinted sides to waste. But if the student printing out an eight-page essay opts for “duplex printing,” PaperCut will only charge 8 cents per page. A document that would cost 80 cents single-sided costs only 64 cents double-sided.

“We really want to encourage students [to print double-sided],” Jordano said, “not only so they can get more value out of it, but the university saves money on paper, and it’s a much more environmentally friendly way to print.”

Elizabeth Kelley, a third-year respiratory therapy student, said she didn’t think she could even control single- or double-sided printing.

“Knowing that now, I’d certainly be more aware to make an effort to save as many of my pages as possible,” Kelley said.

Jordano’s duplex printing suggestion is a result of the university’s steadily increasing paper bill; replacing ink and toner in the printers hasn’t been nearly as costly.

In fact, Jordano said, the change to a new printing system was prompted by ITS’ monitoring of how much student printing jumped over the years despite the cost of paper increasing marginally.

“Paper use is definitely a motivating factor here,” Jordano said. “In especially the last three or four years, we’ve seen the number of pages and the dollars that we’ve spent on paper in labs skyrocket.

About seven or eight years ago, Gannon was spending about $8,000 for paper in the computer labs. It was three times that last year, closer to $24,000, according to Jordano.

Giannelli provided PaperCut’s lab printing figures for the month of September. For thirty days, students printed 247,602 pages, with the highest single total on Sept. 24: 11,419 pages printed in a day.

What could account for this hefty printing bill, especially when every day Gannon – and universities everywhere – becomes steadily environmentally friendly, and by extension, paperless?

Giannelli points to PowerPoint presentations as the culprits. Typically, students print out these PowerPoint files to help their note-taking in lecture classes and sometimes, professors even require their students to do so.

“Faculty are no longer handing out stuff [in class] and students are now getting them on ANGEL and printing them out,” Giannelli said.

“If they’re requiring their students to print stuff out, then they need to have that prepared for their students, so they’re not telling you to use your paper to print out their materials.”

Both Kelley and Laluk admitted they mostly use the computer labs to print out professors’ PowerPoint presentations. Kelley estimated that she prints 10 to 15 four-slide pages every week.

“It’s handy for me to have it front of me so I can take notes,” Kelley said.

But both students disagreed on whether professors should require their students to print out the PowerPoint lectures.

“It’s my own personal preference to print them,” Laluk said. “It doesn’t really bother me.”

“If it’s going to be an issue of cost on my end, professors shouldn’t make it a requirement,” Kelley said.

The choice remains an individual one to each professor, Jordano said. Faculty members are not regulated by the same PaperCut system used for students; each academic department has printing budgets that are divided among their teachers.

Giannelli and Jordano have plans to meet with the Student Government Association next week to discuss the implementation process of PaperCut’s new features.

One such perk is the ability for students to queue a document to print from the comfort of their residence halls and pick it up from the Power Room or the Nash Library – all without having to sign on to a computer once there.

“You could pick something up on your way to class or pretty much anywhere on campus,” Jordano said.

Giannelli and Jordano are also considering using PaperCut to track students’ use of copiers and there’s even a possibility that future printing might have a color option, but neither would happen this semester, according to Giannelli.

Any permanent changes would likely be enacted for next fall, but it’s possible ITS will conduct trials with the new features in the spring, Jordano said.

Gannon students have jumped a few hoops trying to adjust to recent technology changes, from the new Gannon Portal to the Microsoft Outlook email system and now the switch to PaperCut. Jordano said that’s just the constant struggle to remain current in a fluid technological landscape.

“Students would be dissatisfied with five- or six-year-old technology,” Jordano said. “To try to stay current, it does require us making fairly constant changes. There’s going to be more systems implemented to do things that maybe you would have done via paper in the past.”

According to Giannelli, most of the overhaul changes are behind the university, for now.

“Any of the services that we’re looking to do now would be additional features,” Gianelli said. “This printing change is a change to save costs but also to add additional services.

“I don’t think we’re looking to make any big shifts, we’re just looking to add services on to anything that students have now.”

 

DAN KUBACKI

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