Tuesday, February 17, 2004

I chose to observe Memorial Library’s computer lab Tuesday evening around 5:45 pm. When I entered the lab, the majority of the computers were in use, leaving about three or four, which were unoccupied. Before sitting down at a computer I decided to take a walk around the lab, observing what others were doing at their individual stations. From my observations, the majority of students were either using email or searching the web. I observed about six or seven students working on actual word documents which I assumed were school related. One person was actually working on her resume, from my observation it looked as if she was updating it.
When I finally decided to sit down, I chose a computer in the last row to the left so I could observe all others entering and leaving the lab. I decided to check my email so it was not so obvious I was just there to observe everyone in the lab. By 6:10 there were two students waiting in line for computers because the lab was full. An interesting observation was that no one was willing to use the 5 Macintosh computers at the stations where you would need to stand in order to use the computers. So as the line started to increase, these 5 computers were sitting there unused, but nobody was willing to stand and use them for whatever reasons.
Throughout the hour I spent in the computer lab, it was quite interesting to observe how many people were actually using the computers for personal use other than school related reasons. I observed several students shopping online, reading newspapers online, and looking at sport schedules and scores. Within the hour, I only observed 1 person ask for help with a printer which did not seem to work. Otherwise, the only other reason students went to the front desk was to ask to check out a laptop, which happened a total of three times within the hour. Overall, the computer lab was quiet except for different cell phones ringing. I counted a total of four different cell phones which went off in the hour. This really surprised me because I expected the number to be higher than four. Out of those four, two students decided to exit the lab to talk on their phones, whereas two students decided to talk while staying in the computer lab. One student was respectful and talked quietly, whereas the other student became obnoxiously loud when talking and laughing for about five minutes. I observed a few dirty looks, although nobody chose to comment on the fact that she was talking so loud. As I decided to exit the lab around 7pm, there was no line, although only two or three computers were available. From my observations, Memorial computer lab is quite busy and several students choose to use the computers for personal use.

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