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Office of Information Technology's Role in
Supporting the Student Computer Ownership Program

19 November, 1997


After careful study, The Georgia Institute of Technology has adopted a policy requiring all freshmen, beginning with those entering in the summer of '97, and all students joining the class of 2001 and all subsequent classes to own a computer. This initiative recognizes the established importance of computers as "personal productivity tools" and their growing use as educational tools. Computer based educational materials are being developed at an ever accelerating rate and their integration into every subject area taught at Georgia Tech is continually expanding. The development of the Georgia Tech advanced Futurenet network provides the infrastructure for increased uses for computers. These exciting developments and our desire to provide the best possible education for our students led Georgia Tech to undertake this initiative.


Report of the Student Computer Ownership Committee

December 20, 1995

The Strategic Plan of the Georgia Institute of Technology defined a set of strategies that anticipates increased utilization of Educational and Information Technologies to meet the educational, administrative, and research goals of the Institute. Several action items were identified as necessary elements in achieving the goals, one of which is to give serious consideration to a policy of mandatory student computer ownership. Thus Dr. Michael Thomas, Provost, charged a Recommendation Committee to identify the issues associated with such a policy and to recommend the necessary actions to implement the policy, if the Institute were to elect to pursue one.

After careful study of these issues the committee recommended a mandatory policy be applied to undergraduate students only, and that individual graduate programs should determine the extent to which the policy is to be applied to their students. A phased approach was recommended, beginning with the incoming freshmen classes, and occurring over the next four years and the policy should apply to all undergraduate students by the year 2000.

President Clough presented the committee’s recommendations to the General Faculty Senate and a motion to accept these recommendations was past unanimously. After final approval by the Georgia Board of Regents, the Institute elected to implement this policy to coincident with the arrival of the Freshman Class of ’97.

For a complete report on the Recommendation Committee’s recommendations, please refer to <http://www.sco.gatech.edu>.


In the late part of 1996 a Student Computer Ownership Advisory Committee was established by the Georgia Tech Executive Board to provide software and hardware recommendations to be used in the implementation of a Student Computer Ownership Program to be implemented by the Summer Quarter 1997.


Memo to the Georgia Tech Executive Board

2 December, 1996

The Student Computer Ownership Committee submitted for the Georgia Tech Executive Board’s consideration a document entitled "Information for Students on the Georgia Tech Student Computer Ownership Initiative". This document was a recommendation for an informational "booklet" intended for distribution to students. A copy of this document and the memo stating the committee’s recommendations can be found at <http://www.sco.gatech.edu>.

Implementation of the Student Computer Ownership Program

December 1996 through September 1997

The objectives of the Student Computer Ownership Program Implementation Teams were to attempt to address the following key aspects identified from the recommendations set forth by the Student Computer Ownership Committee:


  • Program support and impact on existing support infrastructure
  • Specific platform recommendations
  • Application software recommendation for student productivity tool
  • Lease/Purchase program agreement
  • Purchasing vehicle or agent
  • Software distribution mechanism
  • Receiving, staging, configuration, distribution point
  • Financial aid/loan program
  • Student orientation/seminars/training
  • Communication of program to campus and parents


A copy of the Office of Information Technology’s Support document and a copy of the Brochure (information packet) sent out to perspective students and their parents can be found at <http://www.sco.gatech.edu>.


A pilot program was implemented by the Institute affecting approximately 300 "early entering" Georgia Tech Freshmen during the Summer Quarter, 1997. During this period, the program was refined and improved using information gained over the Summer Quarter.


After using what we learned during the Pilot program period, the Institute was able to better address the needs of our students for a full Fall implementation which affected approximately 1,800 Freshman students.


The following is a list of "Lessons Learned" identified during the summer and fall implementation periods with recommendations of further actions necessary for improvement. Items starting with an "*" indicating more positive interactions are also included in the Lessons Learned section below.



Lessons Learned

19 November, 1997


  1. Need to have a longer lead-time on how to handle Residential Network (ResNet) installations. The process used did not give the support groups time to appropriately test the adequacy of the procedure. Users complained of lack of support.


    The Computer Store, the Housing RTA group and the CSC should continue refining and improving this process for use by the 1998 Summer Quarter.


  2. Implement another phone system in the Customer Support Center (CSC) to support users during peak periods. During the week leading up to Fall Quarter and during the first week of Fall Quarter many students have software and hardware service requests and questions requiring them to contact the CSC for help.


    With this increased activity impacting the normal use and operation of the CSC, an additional line should be installed to support the increased demand. A voice response system should be investigated to easily route calls to the proper support structure, for example: residential network questions to the RTA office, software and configuration questions to the CSC.


  3. Distribution on Computers: we need to work with the fraternity that was supposed to help, to improve their successful participation.


    The Computer Store should either work closely with this organization to improve their effectiveness or use temporary staff support. A more aggressive training program should be used to help these students or temporary staff understand their responsibilities.


  4. Get better lead-time from Vendors for getting the software to distribute to students. For example: Microsoft did not get software CDs to the Computer Store until two days before the start of distribution period which provided little time for support groups to test install procedures and prepare for other support activities.


    Computer Store should start negotiations with vendors earlier and require an earlier deadline for receiving software from each vendor. There should be vendor monetary penalties in place associated with software received from vendors after the due date.


  5. Earlier "No Go" or "Go" decision of how to handle software bundle distribution (electronic download solution? Several CDs? Sell individually?).


    Computer Store should continue to investigate software distribution options during the next two quarters to determine most effective solution. Decision should be made in time to provide adequate testing of process chosen.


  6. * Go ahead and let students activate their accounts after each FASET. This worked very well and reduced impact on the CSC (the process was spread over time).


    The CSC will continue this process, refining and improving procedures for use by the 1998 Summer Quarter.


  7. * Very beneficial to load the required software onto platforms before students picked up their pre-ordered systems (good for the support staff and good for the students).


    The Computer Store and the CSC will continue this process, refining and improving procedures for use by the 1998 Summer quarter.


  8. * Technical Services got an opportunity of helping other groups and getting involved in project. This process helped TS identify services and to begin thinking of how to support these services and how to reduce demands on central resources and make services more effective and useful to users.


    Support group meetings should continue this process, refining and improving procedures and services for use by the 1998 Summer quarter. The Computer Store, the CSC, and the OIT technical support groups should continue to work on improving services.


  9. What we are really selling is "peace of mind to parents and users": We need to market better to parents; Need a "turn-key" process to make it as convenient as possible; do as much as we can to make it easy for the parents.


    The Computer Store, Admissions Department and the CSC should continue refining and improving this process for use by the 1998 Summer Quarter.


  10. Still experiencing gap between selling/distributing systems and installing them; The Residential Technical Assistance (RTA) setup process needs to be refined, improved, communicated better, and understood by other support groups and users; No instructions in the rooms.


    The Computer Store, Housing/RTA group and the CSC should continue refining and improving this process for use by the 1998 Summer Quarter.


  11. Tighten integration of faculty use of electronic methods (getting faculty more involved in use of information technology in the classroom, getting their buy-in). Acquire tools to help distribution of assignments, grading, turn-in of assignments, class notes publishing, etc.


    The Academic Advisory group should investigate options and identify solutions and incentives for implementation within the academic departments


  12. Clarify CSC and RTA relationship: Who does what. Users and housing staff still confused over how to get help, who to turn to, how quickly problems will/should be resolved.


    The Computer Store, Housing/RTA group and the CSC should continue refining and improving this process for use by the 1998 Summer Quarter.


  13. Publish/communicate responsibilities of each support group.


    The Computer Store, Housing/RTA group and the CSC should continue refining and improving this process for use by the 1998 Summer Quarter.


  14. Support a SCO web page with all documentation in one location. Need to establish a "one stop shopping" point on where students go and get information, help and instructions.


    The CSC is in the process of creating a Web based database consisting of documentation, instructions, and information to be implemented before the 1998 Summer Quarter. However, a gap remains for students who have not setup their computers or activated their accounts.


  15. Anything we can do to simplify the support process will make it easier for students and for support staff.


    The Computer Store, Housing/RTA group and the CSC should continue refining and improving this process for use by the 1998 Summer Quarter. Group should solicit input from students to increase the opportunity of providing the right services effectively.


  16. Computer/Bookstore does not have enough storage space to house equipment, especially for fall quarter.


    Computer Store should identify sufficient storage space to accommodate their needs by Fall Quarter. If space is identified early enough, additional security can be installed eliminating the requirement of a security guard.


  17. We need to enhance the services we provide students over the week and weekend before, and the week of, the Fall Quarter. During this period when students are moving into their dorm rooms, picking up and installing their computer systems, an increase in support is necessary meet the increase demand of support groups.


    Housing, Computer Store and OIT should identify way to improve this support, possibly by using trained temporary staff and student help.


  18. Need to hand out manual/documentation developed for training seminars at either FASET or when students buy their systems from bookstore.


    The Computer Store and the CSC should continue refining and improving this process and work with FASET to insure students and parents receive appropriate documentation in a timely manner for use by the 1998 Summer quarter.


  19. Address the issue of advertised systems versus what is available when students arrive on campus (higher-end machines for often less cost); need to have a disclaimer in the brochures sent out to students and parents.


    The Computer Store should negotiate with vendors better deals to coincide with the April time frame when letters are sent out to prospective students and their parents. In addition, these systems and pricing should be consistent with system and pricing upon arrival of students in the Fall Quarter.


  20. Need to persuade students and their parents to purchase systems in advance, not to wait until they arrive to order systems. If they wait the systems will not be available to them until well into the quarter after assignments are due. Student and parents expectations did not seem to change when arriving on campus without previously ordering systems. They still expect to get them by the time they need them.


    Stronger statements and possibly better purchasing incentives should be identified and pursued by Admissions and the Computer Store. In addition, these incentives should be in place before April 1998. With additional storage space identified and with vendor cooperation, a larger in stock inventory may be possible.


  21. Need to communicate to academic departments how and where requests for adding software to required software bundle should be directed. Explain and communicate process to the campus.


    This process should be addressed by the Academic Advisory group. In addition, any approved software additions should be communicated to the admissions/enrollment office by December 1. The admissions/enrollment office prepares marketing material for January 1 distribution and lead time is needed for the Computer Store to have sufficient time for acquisition and testing.


  22. Need to improve our training program, especially to peer leaders. Better equip students to help students. Enhance training and the delivery of training.


    The CSC should work with other academic department and student services organizations to identify training needs for implementation before the 1998 Fall Quarter.


  23. Decide on whether we want to make purchase of software the same as buying a textbook. Buy it when you need it.


    The Academic Advisory group and the Computer Store should address this issue for final resolution.


  24. Refine the pre-loading of the software process.


    The Computer Store and the CSC should continue refining and improving this process for use by the 1998 Summer quarter.


  25. It has been reported that the 3Com cards (the recommended card) does not work properly.


    OIT’s networking group is currently looking into this problem to find resolution. Once problem has been identified and an adequate resolution has been found, the campus will be notified.


  26. * It proved a great benefit for the CSC to spend the money to purchase new, SCO like machines, to use. This helped in identifying problems and providing support to our customers. Vendor demo equipment is needed to avoid purchasing new equipment each year.


    The Computer Store and the CSC should continue refining and improving this process making sure the support groups are up-to-date with new technology to better support users.


  27. * Tight integration between OIT and the Computer Store existed throughout implementation period.


    The Computer Store and the CSC should continue working closely to improve and deliver quality services.


  28. CSC and Computer Store needs to establish integration with ResNet.


    The Computer Store, Housing/RTAs and the CSC should continue refining and improving this process for use by the 1998 Summer Quarter. All "How to" and advertising materials should be revised by each area prior to publication deadlines.


  29. Need to explain in the brochure sent to parents and students that pricing may vary upon delivery. Problem occurred when sales tax was raised after information was sent out and the Computer Store absorbed the cost.


    The Computer Store should work with Admissions to provide this information to perspective students and their parents before next mailing.


  30. Computer Store needs more help to work during peak time periods. There were two major spending efforts going on (Department year-end purchasing and Student SCO purchasing) during the same time.


    The Computer Store should hire trained temporary help or arrange for temporary assignment of duties from other departments to address the peek demand during the beginning of each fall Quarter.


  31. Need to identify an Apple clone (CS does not feel PowerComputing will be a player next year). Or, probably can drop Apple configuration next year. Demand was very low. Overall support issues would be simplified if we move toward single, standard platform.


    The Computer Store should pursue other options and decisions should be made in time for next year’s entering Freshman class.


  32. Computer Store and Hewlett Packard relationship must be improved before next major purchasing effort.


    The Computer Store should pursue vendor negotiations or other options and solutions in time for next year’s entering Freshman class.


  33. * Participation in FASET was very valuable and well worth OIT’s and the Computer Store’s participation in regards to communications with the students and their parents.


    Participation should continue and constantly improve for effectiveness.


  34. Still need to look at printing solutions and provide service to students.


    The OIT and the Computer Store should pursue possible solutions and options available and decisions should be made in time for next year’s entering Freshman class.


  35. Need to look at how we can improve the student computing environment from a central processing standpoint (i.e. Authentication/Validation of accounts/services).


    OIT should continue discussions with support groups and users to provide improved services for next year’s entering Freshman class. Investigate Cornell’s model where students receive accounts in an hour long seminar as part of FASET.


  36. Need to identify measurements in order to track and evaluate the SCO program.


    The Academic Advisory group should address this issue for final resolution. Current information identifies the type and quantity of computers purchased through the Computer Store and requests for assistance through the CSC only. No data is available on RTA program or academic assignments and problems encountered.


  37. Need to address the problem of students wanting on site service for repair work of student machines in dorms.


    The OIT and the Computer Store should pursue possible solutions and options available and decisions made in time for implementation in time for next year’s entering Freshman class.


  38. Distribution of systems need to be improved (it was a bottle neck at the Computer Store).


    The Computer Store should continue working to identify and improve the delivery of this quality service more effectively.


  39. Security hired to guard the equipment at distribution point needs to stay awake at night! It was reported that the temporary guard hired by the Computer Store to guard equipment at the remote distribution site was found sleeping.


    As mention in item 16 above, the Computer Store should identify sufficient storage space to accommodate their needs by Fall Quarter. If space is identified early enough, additional security can be installed eliminating the requirement of a security guard.


  40. Documents and assignments created by students using Windows in Office 97 cannot be read by Macintosh users. Document must be saved to an earlier version (4.0) to be read.


OIT and the Computer Store should investigate other solutions to provide a more permanent solution without using a "work-around" to be implemented as soon as possible.



Data on Hardware and Software Purchases from the Computer Store.


Approximately 550 computers sold

480 Dell (Windows)

20 HP (Windows)

45 Apple (MAC OS)

1 PowerComputing (MAC OS)

9 Laptops

Approximately 100 Printers

1500 Software Bundles



Impact on Support Infrastructure Data:

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SCO Implementation costs (Above normal operating costs): These figures do not include costs for personal services related to working on project planning and preparation activities, documentation preparation, meeting attendance, training and other back-end support activities. In addition, these figures only reflect OIT’s and the Computer Store costs.


Expenses: Activities:

Knowledge Bases for Microsoft Suite $10,500.00 FASET Orientation (6 Sessions)

Power Macintosh 4400 $1,923.00 Welcome Week (8 training seminars)

Student Software Bundle $320.00 Peer Leader Training (4 seminars)

Dell p133 $1,710.00 Opportunities at Tech (2 sessions)

Student Software Bundle $315.00


Printed Materials:

Getting Started with your Computer $9.18

SCO Freshmen Seminars $331.43


Promotional Materials:

Key Fobs $290.00

Sub-Total $15,398.61



Personal Services:

1 additional support staff to CSC $40,000


Sub-Total OIT contribution $65,398.61


Sub-Total Book Store contribution $16,470.00

(includes temporary help, promotional materials, CD duplication costs)


TOTAL $81,868.61

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Last Modified: September 11, 1998 5:00pm
Approved by External Affairs 10/23/97