Specialized Labs

Specialized Lab Support Policy


Identifying expectations and roles between the Specialized Lab Director(s) and the support technicians of the Information Technology Department is critical to maintaining professional working relationships. Technical problems and emergencies can arise very quickly. Effective planning in advance, and ongoing effective communication between IT support people, directors and staff can often minimize or prevent such problems. And if an emergency problem does arise, an agreed action plan of steps to follow to remedy the situation can help to expedite the situation. The policies below clarify for you the expectations and roles in support of your Specialized Lab.Specialized Lab. There are several "Specialized Computing Labs" on the campus that require support from the IT Department. A Specialized Lab provides specialized applications tools, and desktops for students of individual departments or programs. Specialized Labs offer many of the same tools and applications of the open public student labs, but the labs are directed, funded, and supported through individual departments, not through the IT Department. Therefore, the departments running the Specialized Labs usually purchase their own systems and software licenses, hire and train their own support staff, and maintain their own hours of operation. The software in the labs is often specialized for student learning relating to specific subjects like Chemistry, Psychology, Foreign Languages, Geography or Business. The students who use the labs often complete Computer Based Training, (CBT), and other projects using the lab systems and software. Sometimes these projects are graded, and can represent a large proportion of the students' overall course requirements. The software and hardware configurations on specialized lab machines are different than the configurations on the public lab machines, so the implementation of Specialized Labs requires thoughtful planning of software, resources, and communication to function smoothly over the CU Colorado Springs computer network.

General IT can help support Specialized Labs by creating desktops and computing environments, installing and upgrading systems, and creating backup system images. Due to other priorities however, IT employee time is limited, so individual contracts as to the scope of support and expectations of Specialized Lab projects, must be negotiated between the IT support staff, and Director of the Specialized Lab. A written contract should be signed by the Specialized Lab Director and the IT support staff before any work is begun.

Role of Computing Staff

1. IT staff can serve as a liason / advisor to directors and employees of specialized labs. This does not mean that IT Staff does 100 percent of the work in supporting labs. The level of support by an IT Staff member is limited based on his or her time and priorities as specified by his or her manager. Specialized Lab support is a service to the departments of CU Colorado Springs. Employees of specialized labs should participate in the ongoing support of a lab by being involved on a day-to-day basis with the machines and software. Specialized Lab employees can help by learning the basics of the programs on the machines and becoming proficient with the most widely used applications. Specialized lab employees can also help IT Staff by documenting technical problems, creating end-user helpsheets and communicating problems in writing to IT support staff.

2. Availability of the IT support staff is open to negotiation between the Lab Director(s), the IT support staff, and the support staff's supervisor. The agreed upon hours among these people will be specified in writing in the support contract before any work is started. If the lab needs more hours than the IT staff can provide, the Specialized lab director is responsible for hiring their own support person.

3. IT staff will create machine images using packages such as Deep Freeze software to provide a backup of a specialized backup system. Staff directors however will purchase the Deep Freeze software for the lab machine and provide a license in writing. Specialized lab staff will provide training in the steps of restoring an image on to the machine to Specialized Lab Directors and employees.

4. Times and dates for workorders and reimaging systems can be negotiated between IT Staff and Specialized Lab employees.

Expectations / Recommendations

1. All software for images must be licensed by the department. IT will not put on illegal software on to a lab image. Proof of licensing is required.

2. Directors / Employees of Specialized Labs should provide licensed, copies of virus protection software on the machines of the labs. Currently, IT recommends Norton Anti-Virus software. Norton licensing information is available at http://www.norton.com of virus protection software must be purchased by the directors of specialized lab. Updates to the virus protection software need to be made frequently.

3. IT support technicians will not work on specialized lab Directors own personal machines in their offices. Call IT Helpdesk, (x3536), for office support.

4. IT will do their best to resolve emergency Specialized Lab technical problems, but IT Staff has other priorities that often need to be taken care of first. IT Staff will respond to emergencies the best they can but often it will take more than 24 hours to arrive on the scene and work on the problem. For immediate emergency assistance, call IT HelpDesk at (x3536).

5. IT can provide workshops for Specialized Lab employees so they can assist the customers of the lab in the problems that they encounter using the machines and devices. Specialized Lab employees can also attend any academic computing software workshops, or custom workshops can be arranged between the lab director and the support technician.

6. Specialized Lab employees should call in and coordinate warranty work on machines. IT staff can diagnose problems, but Specialized lab employees should call in and coordinate on-site service calls to arrange service call times, prices, and agreements.

7. IT Specialized Lab Technicians will not work on faculty machines in offices to install software or make connections to printers in lab etc. Call IT (x3536) Helpdesk for office support.

8. IT Specialized Lab Technicians will change the software image of the machine only once each semester, (usually during the break between semesters). And, once the software is agreed upon and installed on the image, IT Specialized Lab Technicians will not modify the image (i.e. adding programs on or taking programs off) until the next break in semesters.

9. Network connections and wiring must be purchased through IT. Call IT Helpdesk, (x3536), for more information.

10. IT Specialized Lab Technicians will not work overtime on nights and weekends in Specialized Labs. If special circumstances or emergencies arise and a support technician agrees to work overtime and weekends, then it's a courtesy service from the IT Department. An IT Specialized Lab Technicians should not be expected to work on nights or weekends.

11. IT will not install software that exceeds the minimum requirements for a machine in terms of memory, hard disk space etc. Putting software on the machines that exceed the minimum requirements could cause the software to run very slowly and unstable.

12. IT will not install and configure devices brought in temporarily from home such as CD read / write drives, Zip Drives and scanners. IT will install devices that are supposed to reside on the lab systems and be available to the lab's customers.

13. IT Will help support Specialized Lab laptop computers and projection systems.

14. IT Will? or Will Not? support media equipment in the specialized labs such as overhead projectors, computer projectors, slide projectors, cassette recorders etc.

15. IT can create accounts, Unix accounts and WebCT accounts for your specialized labs. Call (x3536) or (x4289). IT can also assist you in using the accounts, but it will not design and develop the webpages on the accounts for you. Specialized lab directors need to assign the role of webpage designer or course administrator to one of the Specialized Lab employees.