JC Info desk to replace computers with iPads

The information desk at the Johnson Center will soon be getting a facelift.

Gail Sutton, the director of Student Centers is leading a project that will replace sixteen computers at the JC info desk with four iPads, as well as change the overall appearance of the desk.

Sutton says that the overall goal of this project is not specifically upgrading technology.

“The goal of this project is to make the information desk more aesthetically inviting to visitors and students and the technology is secondary to that,” Sutton said.

But the iPads are bringing a more modern technological feel to the JC info desk. The current sixteen computers, which were installed in 1995 when the JC was built, had become outdated and were taking up a lot of counter space.

“Today, the sixteen computers aren’t necessary,” Sutton said. “So, the project will replace them with four iPads, one on each corner of the desk intended for students to have quick access to key resources through the Internet.”

And as for maintaining the iPads, Sutton says that it will be relatively simple.

“The iPads will be placed on stand-up work stations in a security cover that will keep them in place. Students will have limited access to them. They will only be able to access the Internet and will not be able to download anything onto the iPad. Plus, they will be charging 24/7, ensuring that maintenance will be minimal.”

In addition to the iPads, carpeting and counters around the info desk are also being removed and replaced. While there is currently a noticeable change at the information desk, this is only temporary.

“The benches that are currently situated at the corners of the information desk where the counters used to be are only temporary,” Sutton said. “It made sense to relocate them there since students usually would sit on the counters around the desk anyways.”

According to Sutton, Student Centers took the responsibility of the project because the information desk does not belong to a specific department at Mason.

“The JC information desk isn’t the responsibility of the IT department or any other specific department,” Sutton said. “So, Student Centers decided to take on the task.”

The project is being funded by Auxiliary Enterprises, a group of departments under the Office of Administration that provides “high level support services to the university” as stated on its website.

“The total cost of the project is estimated to be $18,000,” Sutton said. “This also includes the cost of removing the existing carpeting and cabinets.”

While Sutton says technology was secondary to the overall goal of making the info desk more inviting, the benefits of the iPads are numerous.

“The iPads are not intended to be an incentive for people to use them more frequently, but they do offer Mason students quick access to key resources as well as take up far less desk space than the former computer systems,” Sutton said.