Edinburgh is such a vibrant and cosmopolitan city, you can clearly see upon visiting why it has been voted by many as one of the best cities in the World. This makes it the perfect place to experience student life.
Edinburgh Napier University has three campuses; Craiglockhart, Sighthill and Merchiston and offers advanced facilities for learning, teaching and research. Edinburgh Napier University is undoubtedly a great choice to live and study. Home to over 19,000 students from over 140 countries, the university began life as Napier Technical College in 1964. Taking its name from John Napier, a 16th-century mathematician and philosopher.
Merchiston Campus is not only where you will find the tower in which John Napier lived but it is also where you will find the large, modern and recently refurbished 24-hour facility of the JKCC (Jack Kilby Computing Centre.) With just over 500 desktop PC’s available to students JKCC is also the hub for the student central support desk which looks after all the queries regarding the campus, and learning technology for staff and students. This department is managed and led by Sally Jorjani, Head of Customer Services and Business Change at Edinburgh Napier University.
Through her work with the students, Sally and her team had a vision for the JKCC and other resource areas within Edinburgh Napier University that would support the students learning. This included collaborative study areas for group learning, quiet study booths and easy access to IT facilities. These areas would also be open 24 hours a day and provide automated access to short-term laptop loans minimising staff interaction.
“Over the last couple of years with the evolvement of social space, social learning and peer to peer learning we have looked at what we offer in our areas for study as students find it far easier to study on campus than go off campus. There is a lot of new technology available and we as a service need to look at that and ensure that our student experience equates to what is out there. Every student has a different learning style and by being able to give our students a better social learning space, helps with that learning and after all that is what they are here for. More and more universities are offering the same courses and I feel that information services and information technology is a unique selling point for each university. What we are doing here at Edinburgh Napier gives us that uniqueness within our information technology department”.
As well as looking at the space in which the students study and choosing to upgrade the furnishings to allow more group and quiet learning space, Sally had also been alerted to the possible introduction to the idea of self-service laptop loans which would enable students to access laptops 24 hours a day.
Andrew McKendrick, Senior Consultant Academic and Business Liaison (ABL) Information Services at Edinburgh Napier University who worked with Sally on the project explained “We offered a manual laptop loan service before, which was available at the JKCC, the Sighthill and Craiglockhart libraries but not the Merchiston library. The main advantage of looking at an automated system was that we could manage the laptops remotely and wipe them clean and update them together in one place. With the manual service, it was very administratively heavy, because in order to wipe the laptops from a security prospective, we would need them back from the students, find space for them on the network, and then find a space to actually put the laptop safely. Sometimes it could take three or four hours to do the technical update we needed to do to the laptops, and of course this delayed our ability to hand out the laptops back to other students. We also needed to look at assisting the help desk in letting them get on with other important work. Sally agreed “we felt that having an automated self-service would free up staff which would enable them to give more face to face help to the students. So, this why we chose to go down the self-automated route, we wanted to be able to offer to our students a service with a quicker turnaround, and having it available for them 24 x 7”.
New technology can be difficult to implement at an establishment such as a university, so the team at Edinburgh Napier decided to research the market place to see what was available and also speak to some other universities.
“We are members of UCISA (Universities and Colleges Information Systems Association) so we went out to other UCISA members to see what other universities were doing for this sort of service. As a member of UCISA, we attend some of their conferences and as LapSafe® are also members, and were exhibiting at one of the conferences, we saw a demonstration of the Diplomat™LMS Self-Service Device Loan Lockers and spoke to the LapSafe® personnel. After looking at other manufacturers and all the options available we chose the Diplomat™LMS solution. The final decision was that it worked well and integrated with our LMS (Library Management System) which was key for us. Ease of use and the feedback that we have got back from other universities was very positive and made the final decision easier for the team involved. Once we made the decision that we were going to go with LapSafe® the process ran very smoothly. The sales process was very straight forward and helpful, we found the staff responsive to our questions, and there were a lot, but LapSafe® had a lot of patience with us which we found very helpful”.
Sally and her team decided to run a pilot scheme for three months at the Merchiston campus Library and the JKCC and initially ordered a 36 bay Diplomat™LMS for the JKCC and 36 bay for the Merchiston Library. Sally and her team requested that the installation was over the 2016 summer holidays just in case the process was noisy and disrupted for students, however as Sally goes on to explain. “We were so pleased of how well and how quiet the installation process was we planned the next installation within normal term time. The delivery guys came on the day that we all agreed, and they managed to do both sites within one day which was very quick. They were very clean, we didn’t even need to tidy up after them which I felt was a good thing considering where they were installing it, they were live computer suites so lots of people were going backwards and forwards. After the installation, the LapSafe® guys then went on to demonstrate how to use the system to our central support desk and our library staff”.
Although the library and support desk staff had initial concerns about it impacting their roles, once the unit was up and working they could see the success of them and they then welcomed the units. As Andrew confirms “Staff can now spend more time doing face to face with students which adds more value, and not spend their time updating the laptops for hours on end.
The Diplomat™LMS units we have installed are networked and this is one of the real benefits. If we have new programmes or security updates that we need to put on the laptops, we can put them on at a chosen time while they are all in the unit. The JKCC offers a 24-hour service to students so when we need to update the laptops it doesn’t now interfere with student time as we set the updates for around 2-3am when the centre is at its quietist”.
The three-month pilot scheme was completed with students and staff deeming it a huge success. Sally concludes
“Our plans are to extend the service to all three campuses at Edinburgh Napier, primarily because of the results we received from our student survey. One of our questions was about the Diplomat™LMS here at Merchiston and we found that students at the other campuses were not happy that they didn’t have the same service. Therefore, we have installed a new 36 bay Diplomat™LMS locker system together with BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) provision at Sighthill and this will be followed by the same at Craiglockhart, planned for the start of the new academic year, September 2017. We have also been asked to increase the amount we have in JKCC as they have been so successful. In fact since automating our laptop loan service, the usage of the service has increased by 27%”. Edinburgh Napier University are proud to be one of the first universities in Scotland to install the Diplomat™ LMS Self-Service Device Loan System, and are looking forward to their future plans. Sally’s advice to any universities or colleges looking to implement this kind of service is to “do your research, and speak to other universities. We found it very beneficial and if anyone would like any help, assistance or advice they are very welcome to talk to us, or visit us here at Edinburgh Napier”.