Thursday, June 24, 2010

Some nurses

Some nurses, originally uploaded by Geoff Carr.
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For Don Chambers at the School of Nursing, University of California at San Francisco, the decision to replace the outdated equipment in the school's computer lab with Dell computers came after a good deal of comparison and discussion. Chambers, coordinator of Academic Computing for the nursing school, describes the process as similar to a market survey.

"We had original IBM PCs, not XTs, since 1982. We purchased external hard drives, upgraded the memory and put modems in the lab, but it really was too slow," Chambers remembers. However, he knew he wanted to stay with DOS-based systems.

Narrowing the list of prospective new vendors down to four companies, Chambers chose the Dell model after taking the computers apart. "The Dell was a solid computer with a one-year warranty," he says, and "Dell consistently got good reviews in the trade press." All in all, it was "enough to tip the scales."

Sixteen Dell 210 computers are currently housed in the nursing school's lab; all are 286-based ATs with 1MB of memory and VGA monitors. The sixteenth computer is known as the "graphical workstation." This unit is connected to an HP LaserJet printer and a color plotter. The students use the workstation to print final drafts of reports and papers, and to create color graphs.

An additional 210 is reserved for the instructor. This computer, which contains 4MB of memory, a CGA monitor and a math coprocessor, is connected to two 25" color graphics monitors located at opposite ends of the room.

Many Uses

The instructor's computer is mainly used for leading the 25 workshops hosted by the university. For a fee, people in the community can learn about WordPerfect, Lotus 1-2-3, Reflex, Paradox and other programs while working on the Dell computers. These same workshops are made available to UC faculty for inservice training and staff development at no charge.

The computer lab is also used by the masters'-level nursing administration students for three mandatory classes, and for teaching two general computer courses: introduction to computers and data management. The lab is open 20-30 hours a week for non-structured student use as well.

The faculty at the School of Nursing create and implement a variety of computer-assisted instructional material with the Dell computers. One program, Introduction to Research, is a requirement for all masters students. In total, roughly 10 hours of CAI, nursing a medical simulation software is available. Chambers says students use the simulation software "as a refresher or supplement to their classes."

A Speedy Response

Chambers praises the Dell computer monitors and keyboards, and is particularly pleased with the 210's small footprint. The students enjoy the computers as well--many purchase one for their own use.

Chambers was initially concerned about the possible lengthy down-time that might occur when the computers needed repairing, since Dell is a mail-order company. He has always received a speedy response from the company's service department, however, and representatives from Dell frequently visit the campus. Chambers adds that the phone support is also very good.

All told, Chambers has no complaints. He is happy with the quality of the computers and the service he receives. Although he has no immediate plans to upgrade the lab computers, he may add memory periodically, as it becomes necessary.

Source Citation
Greenfield, Elizabeth. "New computers help revamp nursing lab." T H E Journal [Technological Horizons In Education] 18.2 (1990): 65+. Computer Database. Web. 24 June 2010.
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