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Flexible Laptop, Chromebook and Phone Charging Lockers

Southern Regional College
Diplomat™ Self-Service Case Study


Southern Regional College is the largest college in Northern Ireland outside of Belfast and have six campus locations.

They have recently opened two brand new campuses at Armagh and Banbridge, following a £55M investment in their estates.

They offer over 600 courses from entry level to Postgraduate level. Courses are offered both on a full-time and part-time basis. Southern Regional College is one of the largest providers of skills training in Northern Ireland.

At Southern Regional College (SRC) they are confident that they can offer students qualifications which provide clear progression pathways which are relevant for the workplace. They currently cater for approximately 32,000 students each year and have in excess of 900 members of staff.

Working with over 90 community and voluntary groups and over 600 businesses in the southern region.

The Project Based Learning (PBL) Team sites within the Quality and Pedagogy Department and is a relatively small team consisting of Lynne Ervine, PBL Manager and two PBL Officers, Edward Jones and Caitlin O’Dowd.

Project Based Learning (PBL) is a dynamic approach to teaching and learning, in which students explore real-world industry-based problems and challenges. This helps better prepare students for the workplace of today and of the future. In an increasingly competitive world of work, employers need work-ready students who are able to work in an evolving economy.

The new Armagh and Banbridge Campuses both have new state-of-the-art areas dedicated to PBL which complements existing PBL space in Newry. These purpose-built areas provide a unique space for students to work within their course teams and with the PBL Officers all of whom support and mentor students as they complete their projects. They have the chance to participate in workshops, listen to guest speakers and industry experts, to have small group and 1:1 guidance and support.

Southern Regional College Self-Service Charging Lockers

Why did you choose to implement self-service device loans?

“The SOLVE Centre in the new Armagh Campus is a purpose-built area which provides a unique space for students to work individually, in small groups and as a whole class with the PBL Officers and their course team on their industry projects. The Centre consists of various zones which are designed to support and facilitate activities that the student should be undertaking at that stage and this is reflected in the design of the area, equipment and furniture deployed in that area. As well as mentoring and supporting students and delivering workshops, the PBL Officer has operational oversight of this area and that includes managing resources. All four zones of SOLVE are spread throughout the top floor of the new campus.

Zone 1 is the investigation zone and where the students work individually, in small groups or as a class at the start of their project. The room is open planned and can accommodate large numbers of students working on their industry projects. The furniture can be easily moved to allow for the room to be configured for individual work or small groups and to allow for workshops to be facilitated by the PBL Officer as well as allowing for cross curricular work. It has space for guest speakers to provide relevant information on projects.

It wasn’t appropriate to have traditional PC’s due to the flexible nature of the space but it was clear that the students would need access to devices so the College purchased 20 SurfaceGo devices to be used in this area. Offering self-service device loans would enable students to quickly and easily access a fully charged device as and when required without staff intervention. This allowed the PBL Officers to be able to work with the students without interruptions for requests to borrow or return a device.”

Lynne Ervine, Project Based Learning Manager

Did you require your Diplomat™ lockers to work alongside your Library Management System?

“No, we are a different department to the library and we wanted autonomy in managing the system. We knew that LapSafe® would offer us the option to link to our Heritage system but as the LRC staff wouldn’t be managing the loans we wanted to go with the Diplomat™SOLO system which works standalone and gives us live data through the dashboard.”

Lynne Ervine, Project Based Learning Manager
Southern Regional College Self-Service Charging Lockers

How did you find the sales process from order to delivery?

"I found the whole process to be effortless and efficient. Ben our LapSafe® Account Manager and Matthew LapSafe® Support have been fantastic, always at the end of the phone or email.

The installation team were great, they fitted the unit in a timely manner and with minimal disruption. Matthew needed to work with our IT Department to ensure the unit was fully operational and I was always informed of the progress.

Throughout the process Ben stayed in touch to check that things were going ok and I know that I can contact them if I have any questions."

Lynne Ervine, Project Based Learning Manager

What feedback have you had?

“We’ve only recently started to use the unit to its full effect. I know as staff we are really impressed with the unit, the finish, the ease of use and the data that it can provide through the Diplomat™SOLO dashboard.”

Lynne Ervine, Project Based Learning Manager
Southern Regional College Self-Service Charging Lockers

What does the future hold?

“The Diplomat™ is a modular unit which means that should we purchase extra laptops in the future we can add extra locker bays. We also have other devices for students to borrow such as DSLR cameras which are available for short term loans. The unit is versatile so it can be used for other devices and we are going to keep an eye on loans over the next academic year.”

Lynne Ervine, Project Based Learning Manager

What advice would you give to other colleges considering self-service device loans?

“We’ve yet to see the full impact as COVID has impacted footfall through the college. However, I’m really looking forward to seeing the unit used to its full potential and to be able to use the Diplomat™SOLO portal to generate data. If there is a need for a storage solution, I would certainly advise you to take a look at the LapSafe® product range. I’m sure Ben would be more than willing to take a call!

I would recommend the LapSafe® self-service solution, absolutely. LapSafe® seem to have thought of everything and have continually developed their product based on feedback from users. It’s a great piece of kit which we feel will only add to the facilities that we already have invested in to ensure our students have access to the best facilities and services as they work on industry projects.”

Lynne Ervine, Project Based Learning Manager
Southern Regional College Self-Service Charging Lockers