Are the new WEPA kiosks the next big thing on campus?

By: Octavia Johnson - Campus Life Editor

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            Division of Information Technology (DoIT) is partnering with Wireless Everywhere Print Anywhere (WEPA) to provide a new printing system, now referred to as UNCP’s Braves Print, in 11 locations on campus.

            In May 2018, the older model of printers was taken out of the residential halls but during the transition, the printers in the University Center’s computer lab 158 and Livermore library were kept for student use.

On Dec. 4, 2018, the WEPA kiosks were moved into the following locations on campus; Business Administration building on the 1st floor, D.F. Lowry building on the 1st floor, Dial Humanities building on the 1st floor, Education Center building in room 137, Livermore Library on the 1st floor and in computer lab 232, Oxendine Science building on the 1st floor, Sampson building on the 1st floor, Chavis University Center in computer lab 158 and in the lounge and Weinstein on the 1st floor near Papa Johns. The kiosks in Livermore Library in computer lab 232 and University Center in computer lab 158 are equipped with scanners. DoIT is currently discussing where to put the 12th WEPA kiosk.

            Student availability to the WEPA kiosks was on Jan. 7, 2019 and the older model printers were replaced.

            “In the library, it’s a good location and they haven’t broken yet,” UNCP Library Technician Krystal Dean said.

According to the email sent by DoIT, WEPA is a wireless printing service that allows students to print multiple documents at a WEPA kiosk from the web, USB drive, smartphone, tablet or any computer. It was also designed to print from websites like Canvas, Google Drive, Office 365 and Dropbox.

“The theory was, how can we give students better services and still have in proximity to the labs,” said Nancy Crouch, associate vice chancellor for technology and resources and chief information officer. “You all are paying for printing, you always have, and hopefully now you’re paying for a better service.”

Freshmen Samantha Torres said she felt confident using the printers and it was really easy to use because it took less than five minutes to print. She believes they were a lot better than the old printers.

            Technology Support Specialist Michael Pruitt recommended WEPA when it was recommended to him from EDUCAUSE, which according to the EDUCAUSE website it’s a national nonprofit association of IT leaders and professionals working together to tackle challenges and leverage opportunities that are constantly evolving within higher education.

            “There was a conference called UNCCAUSE, so WEPA actually went and presented because, you know, they were fixing to…implement here at UNCP and they got a lot of interest from other schools in the UNC system,” IT Support Services Liz Cummings said.

Students receive up to $10 a semester to pay for black, white or color pages. The costs are 8 cents per black and white page, 15 cents per duplex black and white page, 25 cents per color page and 40 cents per duplex color page. The WEPA kiosks can print on one side (regular) or on both sides (duplex).

If students want to add more money to their accounts, they would have to go to wepanow.com. They also check their balances on the website. The money that was already on the account will roll over into the next semester until the last academic year. Any extra money that the student puts into their account will not roll over so students will have contact WEPA to receive a refund on the money that put onto their account. The money, that was already on the account, that is not used by the end of the academic year will be used to help fund the school.

            Community patrons were also allowed to create their own account and add as much money needed.

            “It’s good for the public patrons if they make their own account,” Dean said. “It’s cheaper too because before they were paying 10 cents a copy.”

“It’s good for the public patrons if they make their own account,” Dean said. “It’s cheaper too because before they were paying 10 cents a copy.”

The cost of the printing were discussed among DoIT who compared prices with other schools, survey their peers and retrieved data to see what other schools charged.

DoIT wanted to avoid continuously paying toners for broken machines. They are now able to survey students or look at data in case they need to adjust the budget that students receive. Before the new WEPA printers, they were not able to.

“One month we spent a couple thousands of dollars on toner for broken machines and there was no way to control the cost or to make sure that is was equitable,” Crouch said.

DoIT believed that students who lived off campus were being blocked from being able to use the old printers because most of them were in residential halls that needed a key card to get inside of the building.

            “One of the goals were to get them from behind locked doors,” Crouch said. “We want to make sure that all students have access to them.”

             DoIT wants to hold discussions to have spaces where the WEPA kiosks are located to be opened to students 24/7, especially the students who print late at night. The WEPA kiosks keeps the loaded documents for at least three days before printing so if a student plans to print something but can’t get into the building, they can send it to the nearest printer then print it the next day when the buildings are open.

            “They’re convenient and they’re everywhere,” freshmen Dana Locklear said.

Students will no longer have to wait for someone to come fix a printer if it’s broken because now the WEPA kiosks are designed to alert DoIT helpdesk to put in a work order if there is a problem with one of the printers. It even alerts them about ink shortages. If the helpdesk are not able to assist during the time, WEPA will send someone to resolve the issues.

Some students feel that the printers still have a down side when it comes to breaking down.

“I went to use the printer in the UC computer lab but it wasn’t working so I had to go to the one outside of the computer lab to swipe again,” sophomore Luke McDonough said. “I hated using them because I had to scramble to find another printer, it’s inconvenient.”

With the WEPA kiosks came a new database that will allow DoIT to see how many students have used the printers on the locations on campus. It helps them to be able to determine if the areas they’ve picked were being used or were the locations to put the printers.

 “In the past it was a manual process so to tell where they were coming from or the source, we had none of that information,” Cummings said. “Now we’re able to have additional data that we didn’t have before.”

Some students already have their own printers so they don’t use the WEPA kiosks at all. One student said he only used it twice since he has come back to school.

A student was having trouble using the printers and stated it ‘cost a lot’ and they were not comfortable with studying on a computer screen so they needed the hard copy at hand.

“I have to use the printer because I don’t have a my own,” they said. “It might be more convenient to get my own though.”

Most administration don’t have an opinion on the WEPA kiosks due to them not using them as frequently as students. Some departments didn’t know there were WEPA kiosks placed into their buildings.

DoIT wants more students to send them feedback about the new WEPA kiosks.

“Always share feedback to us because we really want to hear from students, good, bad or indifferent,” Crouch said. “You guys already know what you need.”

            The DoIT department is located in Lindsay Hall, for any questions contact the DoIT Help Desk at 910.521.6260 or doit.helpdesk@uncp.edu

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