$10,000 of quality money goes to Mac Hall kiosks

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The University of Calgary Students' Union has taken a page out of Mount Royal College's playbook in an effort to ease computing congestion on campus.

Funded by a quality money initiative, the SU has installed a pair of computer kiosks in MacEwan Student Centre as part of a pilot project proposed by operations and finance commissioner Bryan Campbell, inspired by a system already in place at MRC.

"I did a year of school at Mount Royal and they had these kind of computers on microwave stands, a small wooden cabinet with a monitor on top," said Campbell. "They had these everywhere on their campus and it was really a brilliant idea with the move to Blackboard and the move to get students to use their MRC e-mail account."

Last year, Campbell submitted a quality money proposal for a pilot project of a similar computer system, created for what he termed "quick, five-minute, check-to-see-if my-class-is-cancelled" use.

SU vice-president operations and finance Alex Judd said that the initial quality money allocation of $10,000 went towards the installation of two kiosks in MSC-- one at the east end of the food court and the other near Jugo Juice-- with the remainder of the money slated for promotion of the project once the kiosks are officially unveiled in the new year.

"The status of the project right now is they're installed, we're just having a couple of technical difficulties that are being worked out presently," she said. "Once we are confident in their [readiness], we will be ready to launch it."

As the aim of the pilot project is short-term computer use, the interface of the kiosks has been designed with limited functionality. They feature a series of in-house SU ads as screensavers and direct links to the SU website, U of C webmail, myUofC and campus maps.

"There's a fixed number of links that you can go to, keeping in mind that it is a pilot project," said Campbell. "It would be nice to see things like Hotmail, Yahoo and Google added in the future, but right now we're just piloting it, seeing how it works and what people think."

Judd added the next step in the project will be a survey implemented through the kiosks assessing the usefulness of the computer system. The results of the survey could potentially serve as the basis for expansion of the project to the rest of the campus, should demand warrant it.