Dundee and Angus College is a large college with three main campus sites in Dundee and Arbroath and two Learning Centres across the Angus region. Gardyne Campus has a greater focus on courses such Care, Computing and Art & Design. In contrast, the Kingsway campus, which is on the north side of Dundee, offers courses such as hairdressing and construction. The Arbroath campus provides a mix of both, which means there are around 15000 students that attend over the three campuses.
Andy Ross has been the Head of ICT, running the digital teams at Dundee and Angus College for over two years. Working closely with the library digital resources team, Andy and his team’s role is to deliver a secure and reliable digital service for all staff and students.
With around 1000 staff and approximately 300 variable members on the staffing team, it meant that some of the lecturing staff were only in for a few hours a week. This made it difficult to provide a laptop to all staff when they required one to use and take around campus.
In response to this problem, in 2019 Andy and his team decided to pilot a way of adding a resource on campus for those staff members to pick up a laptop and use it while they were there.
They already had 20 - 30 laptops trolleys on campus, Andy wanted the system to work in a self-service way so staff members could pick up a laptop at any time.
"I’m a member of the Scottish FE Information Leads, where we discuss all things IT and you get to hear about different IT solutions. The group is really helpful, and it is where we heard about LapSafe®. The feedback we received on the LapSafe® Diplomat™ self-service lockers was so positive and it seemed a good fit for what was needed here.
We went ahead and ordered a 20 bay Diplomat™ LITE unit for our Gardyne campus, which was only aimed at Staff. The idea was that all staff would have access to borrow a laptop without too much intervention.
Then the COVID pandemic happened, so we decided that every single staff member now needed a laptop of their own to take home and use. So, our initial reason for having the self-service lockers diminished"Andy Ross, Head of ICT
During this time of change, Andy saw that the students’ needed to have access to laptops even more and decided to change the use of the LapSafe® lockers and so they were moved to a more visible place on the campus for students to use.
Receiving funds through the Scottish Government Digital Poverty Funding Scheme, Dundee and Angus college procured around 400 laptops. This meant they could increase the laptop bays available at Gardyne to 92 bays. They could then purchase the same again for both Kingsway and Arbroath campuses and re-launched the service to students when they returned from their summer 2021 break.
"We now have an identical set up in each of our campuses for the students, consisting of one terminal with touchscreen and 92 laptop lockers. We have six towers set up for short term loans and three towers for long term loans. The short-term loan is for one day, and the long terms ones are for two weeks."Andy Ross, Head of ICT
“There was a big decision at the outset about what sort of connectivity we needed. The full version of the Diplomat™ lockers offering network connectivity looked perfect for us for the future.
However, as we didn’t need connectivity at this time, we opted for the Diplomat™LITE. We were told upfront precisely what both versions of the Diplomat™ would do and what the LITE unit would and wouldn’t offer. This made it easier to make our decision which was to go with the cheaper option without all the connectivity."Andy Ross, Head of ICT
The students at the college are issued with a contactless Mifare student card which can be used with the LapSafe® units. They choose either a short or long-term loan, scan their card, accept the terms and conditions and away they go.
With the ‘Availability Dashboard’ function that comes with the Diplomat™, Andy can see what laptops are available for loan, which devices have not been plugged back in to charge and also when they are scheduled to be returned.
With positive feedback from all areas at the college, the laptop loan service, which is now available to ALL students, is levelling out the digital poverty divide. Students can now choose where to study, even if it is at a local coffee shop.
“What I love most about the service is the way that the unit works. The LapSafe® team that delivered and set up the units were friendly, professional and very informative.
The LapSafe® in-house support desk is great; if you ask for a change after the installation, it is just dealt with there and then. There have never been any hidden charges before we purchased the units or after they were installed. It works how we were sold it and definitely does what it says on the tin."Andy Ross, Head of ICT