By Ramisha Farooq
When journalism and radio-television arts students walk back into the far-reaching halls of the Rogers Communication Centre this September, they’re going to notice one big difference: computer-less RCC classrooms.
In an email prompting them to consider purchasing a “compatible and highly portable” laptop over the summer, journalism students were informed that selected courses would now be using mobile computing classrooms rather than working with fixed computers.
This is part of an initiative that will merge the New Media Program, formerly housed in various locations across campus, into the RTA School of Media starting this September.
“We have made changes to our physical environment on the third floor of the Rogers Communica- tion Centre to accommodate more than 200 first-year students in the new School of Creative Industries tions for students without comput and some 65 first-year students in the new undergraduate program, Professional Communication,” said Gerd Hauck, dean of the Faculty of Communication and Design.
“To accommodate them, we have repurposed some of the under-utilized spaces in the building, opened up closed spaces, and redistributed faculty and staff offices,” said Hauck.
The New Media program helps students develop skills such as computer programming, enabling them to create digital art, mobile media and interactive stories.
This will be the first time in its history that it has a permanent home.
The email sent to journalism students by Graduate Program Director Joyce Smith and Undergraduate Program Director Kamal Al-Solaylee stated that approximately 23 different courses would be taught in new mobile computing rooms.
The email also opened up the possibility of a laptop becoming a journalism school requirement in the future.
RTA Chair Charles Falzon confirmed that the school of media would be following suit, while mentioning that there will be some options for students without computers.
“We will also ensure that fixed computers and editing equipment will be available especially hard- ware needed to accommodate ad- vanced software programs,” said Falzon. “Mobile creation is a big part of today’s media production landscape.”
Attached to the email was a list of suggested options when purchasing a new laptop, along with specific requirements when doing so.
Meeting all suggested requirements brings the cost of a laptop upwards of $1,300. This is without compulsory software students use for assignments, such as Adobe Suite, which costs an additional $50 a month or approximately $800 at full price.
For students who commute to school each day, the idea of computer-less classrooms is a strain.
“Many students also struggle financially and having computers available for use at school helps a lot for those who don’t have lap- tops,” said fourth-year journalism student and former Journalism Course Union President Avital Borisovsky.
“I would like to not have to carry my laptop around to school, especially since many journalism classes right now take place in classes where desktops existed,” said Borisovsky.
However, Ivor Shapiro, chair of the School of Journalism, has said that more than enough mobile computers will be available in the mobile computing rooms for any students who don’t bring their own to classes.
They will also be readily available for students to loan outside of class. Shapiro guarantees, though the final details of the loan-out process are still being fine-tuned, it will be efficient and as convenient as possible.
Hauck also sees the possibility of a collaborative media platform bringing together different media arts students.
“We have made a significant investment in ‘opening up’ the journalism space to facilitate collaboration in a new kind of ‘super newsroom’,” said Hauck.