Exchange student Jacob Porteous thought he was going to pass his computer info system exam with an A. Then his school computer crashed and his entire exam was lost.
His experience is typical. Students are complaining that software, hardware, technical classes and even the IT help at Anglo-American University are inadequate.
Martin Videovski, an AAU alumni, said, “I can tell you that CIS was not a relevant class at all. They should come up with a way to make it more fun and with all the modern-day gadgets and visual effects I was expecting.“
The school doesn’t provide students with Microsoft OS but with Ubuntu, for which the license is free. Students are annoyed because they are used to Microsoft or Macs, and Ubuntu makes it impossible for them to work with their documents properly.
When students need to open their documents in the library, usually to print them out, the program makes the formatting look deranged. IT specialist Milan Fucik says that students often make the mistake of not converting their files to PDF, which should guarantee that the formatting will stay unchanged.
However, Tomas Probst, business administration student disagrees. He only uses Ubuntu in the library and he complains, “They piss me off. They totally mess up the whole formatting, even in PDF, so realistically, you can’t do anything on them.”
Simon van der Does, an exchange student from France, needed to print his assignment in the library. The printer did not accept his ISIC card and after checking with the Student Services
Center, they did not find anything wrong with his card.
Van der Does contacted Fucik who returned his fixed card after a week. Many students had similar problems with dysfunctional ISIC cards but Fucik says, “In last 12 months, I have received maybe three complaints about a dysfunctional card, which means that it isn’t a technical problem but administrational.”
Many students complain about non-working cards, but they make the mistake of doing it with each other instead of contacting somebody at the reception. Their problem therefore cannot be solved promptly.
However, van der Does is far from being the only student having negative experiences with printing. Emelie Milde Jacobson, a sophomore of journalism, is a straight-A student. When she was to hand in her final essay at the end of her first semester, she came to the library to print it out before the class began.
Her card did not work, so she went to the computer lab but it was closed. She could not print it at the reception either – apparently, the printer was broken. The essay was due at the beginning of class and Jacobson did not make it on time. Věra Převrátilová, AAU’s chief operations officer, said she does not understand why the computer lab was closed because it is supposed to be open from the early morning.
“This printer isn’t fully utilized, compared to the one in the library,” she added. What’s more, it is closer to the main building, where the majority of students have classes.
Students need their ISIC card to use the printer. Every semester, their cards are charged with 100 Kc per course, while one page costs around 1.2 Kc. According to school management, that should be sufficient for everyone. Often, students do not check if their cards function or not and they discover problems once they need to use them, when it’s usually too late.
It’s recommended they check their cards and if they notice something awry, they should immediately contact either the receptionist or Fucik personally.
AAU’s Internet connection does not have many fans either. Wifi is provided in all classes, but it’s weak and unstable so students often cannot use it when they need to during lectures. Some students’ passwords have simply stopped working and they cannot connect at all.
Isabel Springer, a second year student of journalism, got her password in September of the last year but it stopped working in April. She has been using the password of her friend, who currently studies abroad, which only solved her problem temporarily. She contacted the authorities repeatedly and, after almost eight months, it is only now finally working
It is usually impossible to use other students’ passwords because only one device can be connected to Wifi with the password at a time. Nowadays, most students bring not only their laptops, but also smart phones and tablets to school, so they must chose which one they will connect.
Fucik explains that the internet is slow because of data download limits. It was set this way primarily to prevent downloading of large files, which would make it impossible for other students to do anything on the internet, he said. Teacher’s computers aren’t connected through Wifi but use cable so that they are not limited and can handle videos and other online material without disturbance.
Students also complain that Fucik is only available two days in a week – and only to the school staff. This is complicated for those who do not have classes either of those days. The school has hired a new IT specialist, Peter Weis, who is available to students every day and both technicians should be available via e-mail.
AAU management is aware that the technology is far from perfect but say they do not know about all issues because students and teachers rarely complain to them. School computers are too outdated to work with Microsoft OS, they add, and Ubuntu works much faster on them. The school is going to buy new computers once they have a plan for the new computer lab in the building that AAU is moving to in one and a half years, according to AAU administrators.
The new computers will most likely work with Microsoft OS and there will be a room for students with computers and two, possibly three, printers, which will be more users friendly – at least according to the plan.