By Robin Shum
On Nov. 4, South implemented a new printing system for all of its copy machines. The main new feature, called “Follow Me Printing,” sends requested print jobs from the computer straight to an electronic folder that can be accessed by all printers. In order for items to print, users must walk up to the printer, log in with their school computer username and password, choose the items they want to print, and then hit the “start” button. They also have to sign out when they are done. The same goes for scanning and copying items. While teachers have ID cards with chips that are readable by a scanner on faculty printers, students must use the touch-screen keyboard, which has led to some frustration when printing in the library.
The new printing system was established as part of a contract that Phipps negotiated for new copy machines. The printers and copy machines at South are leased from Konica Minolta for three years each, and that contract recently expired. With the renewal came the new features, including the sign-in system. According to District Technology Director Mr. Marc Epstein, all Great Neck schools will have the new sign-in system, with South being the first to implement it. The orders for the installment of the new system were made by the district administration, and individual schools were not involved in the decision. Mr. Epstein’s Tech Support team at Phipps was asked to join in on discussions about implementing the new printing system with its technological improvement and new functions of the copiers.
One of the new printing system’s benefits is a decrease in wasted paper and toner from accidental prints, which saves both money and the environment. “[It] is nice because it helps us move forward with the paperless initiative. Teachers can now scan old paper documents to [any school] printer or show them on the iPads,” said Assistant Principal Mr. John Duggan.
“I would say there was a 90% reduction in paper waste,” said librarian Ms. Judith McClellan.
Another benefit, according to Mr. Epstein, is that the sign-in system ensures greater privacy for the user, as no one will be able to view someone else’s print jobs.
A third benefit is that the “Follow Me Printing” folder to which a file is saved can be accessed by all copy machines and released after entering a username and password, so people can use other printers when one malfunctions.
However, this new system has elicited mixed feelings from the students of South, who are frustrated by the long wait to retrieve a print job. “Originally, it was nearly impossible to find an open computer [before first period]. Now, the line to get a computer nearly stretches out the library doors,” said senior Katia Altern. “There is no longer a ‘quick print’ with the new log-in-sign-out system.”
But some do not see this as a problem. “There’s really no difference [waiting in line now as opposed to before the new system]. You waited before for something to print,” said Mr. Duggan.
Others feel that there is just a disconnect between the students and administration. “I think it’s great that we’re saving paper; I just think there are less frustrating ways to do so, like instead of signing in and out each time, maybe students could get a pin number to type in,” said senior Emily Cheung. “Students are already stressed out about handing in assignments, and now they are worrying about printing them before the bell rings.”
In response to the new printing system’s potential benefit of greater privacy, senior Robin Park said, “I feel like that is quite inefficient and unnecessary. We are all students trying to print out our work, so we would not take someone else’s print.”
Student Government representatives have also been suggesting ways to improve the students’ experience. According to Student Body President senior Tina Pavlovich, the representatives suggested including a physical keyboard to minimize the time spent typing in usernames and passwords. However, she was told that the cost of the addition and the space it would take up by the printer would exceed the benefit of the few seconds saved. SG also proposed that students receive IDs implanted with chips that are scannable by the printers.
“I think this new system has been successful,” said Ms. McClellan. “[But] one frustration I understand that the shift key doesn’t automatically unshift for the current printer’s keyboard, so students have to re-enter their login if they don’t remember to unshift the keyboard.”
Additionally, the printers in the library are less industrial versions of the faculty printers and are not equipped with the same mechanisms; the sheer cost of the installation of a scanner for these ID cards would be very high. There would also be a great change in cost of new IDs. According to Mr. Duggan, South currently receives student IDs free of cost from LifeTouch company, while new IDs with chip implants are $12 a piece. Librarian Mr. Damon Reader said, “Think about it: Students lose things all the time, so they’ll constantly have to pay for new IDs, which costs $10 to replace.”
Students are still unhappy about the time-consuming sign-in process, but some are keeping an open mind. “We understand that there is a learning curve [for] becoming accustomed to the new system,” said Pavlovic. “We realize the disgruntlement among students about the new system, and if the change does not seem to be yielding positive results after the first few weeks, [Student Government] will proactively search for a more accommodating system.”