Drop-in computer labs make way for placement testing

On Monday, April 8, the drop-in computer lab in the basement of building 2 was, “permanently closed.” A sign posted on the door of the lab says it will be relocated to the library in building 5 in the summer. In the meantime, students are encouraged to use the computers and printers that are already set up in the library as the temporary drop-in lab.

The computer labs are housed by the Center for Advanced Learning and Technology. According to the Skyline College website, “The CALT houses general computer classrooms utilized by a number of departments for instruction.” CALT houses the computer science lab and the PC repair and configuration lab among other college related, networked PC services. The reason the basement drop-in lab in building 2 is closed is due to a need to make more space in the current placement testing center, also housed in building 2.

According to the Dept. of Science, Mathematics and Technology here at Skyline, the current placement testing center on the main floor in building 2 has only about 16 different computers. With the current student population being more than 10,000 students, that doesn’t really add up. That number doesn’t even include the number of high-school students who need testing to enter Skyline. In other words, there simply isn’t enough space at Skyline College right now to accommodate all of the prospective students who need to take their placement tests for math and English. Expansion of the facility is paramount and this is the first step; to close down the current lab and get everything out of there to make room.

“Over the past five-plus years this college has grown tremendously. We’ve put some new buildings online and we’ve looked at what would meet student needs as we move forward,” Ray Hernandez, dean of science, mathematics and technology said. “And now with newer technology, in terms of needing a computer … Many students have technology that they come with. Technology like their own laptop or smart-phone.”

To that point, a handful of students in the library, who were asked at random, didn’t even know the drob-in lab had closed. It seems everyone these days does in fact have their own laptop, tablet or smart-phone. (Just look around you. I bet at least one person in each of your classes has at least a smart-phone, if not a full-on laptop.) Even so, some students weren’t happy about the situation.

“A lot of students are complaining,” Student assistant, Brian Ho said. “Everyone wants to know why. We want our computer lab back.”

CALT is evolving along with the new technology and is diligently working to have the drop-in labs re-opened in Summer. However, the issue right now for CALT is to try and meet the students needs for placement and to connect more with Skyline’s high-school partners. CALT has to consider what is most important for the overall majority of student needs and right now, that’s upgrading and expanding the placement test center.

“In the best of all worlds, what would be great is; everything is ready at the same time and as soon as something closes, the other thing opens, but unfortunately that’s just not how it works,” Hernandez said. “So what we’re looking at right now is upgrading the placement testing center. Because of the amount of computers (or lack of computers) we have we really need to make that a priority. That’s why that is moving forward before the new drop-in lab is ready.”

According to Dean Hernandez, the drop-in lab will be on hiatus until the library’s infrastructure is ready for the lab to be set up there. Not only are there plans to re-open the drop in lab in the summer. CALT has a much grander idea of a learning facility for Skyline students to take advantage of in the future.

“The bigger vision is a Learning Commons,” Hernandez said. “So the library is not just a reference center but it’s really a center where students can receive and share information and collaborate with faculty and staff. There’s even a big vision to put in a coffee shop in this Learning Commons.”

For now the temporary drop-in computer and print lab is located in the library, upstairs in building 5. The new drop-in lab is estimated to be set up in the library sometime this summer. In addition, Keep your eyes peeled for the learning commons, hopefully to come at some point in the near future.

For more information on the CALT please visit: