Warrington Collegiate Education Trust is an education body that owns three education establishments consisting of: The New Future Tech Studio, the Beamont Collegiate Academy and Warrington Collegiate.
Warrington Collegiate is a vocational learning provider in Warrington for students aged 16 and over. One of the college’s values is that they are open to change and are constantly looking forward to the future. To support this value a new college building was opened in 2007 with 1600 fulltime students. The College now boasts a fully equipped Learning Resource Centre (LRC), combining traditional library services with the latest technology and facilities.
The traditional methods of distributing laptops to students via a cabinet in the classroom was adequate for a few years in the new building. However, Nick Smeltzer, the Director of IT Services was tasked the job of making sure that the IT Services department wasn’t left behind in the technology stakes and matched that of the new modern design of the college.
Nick explained “As part of the new strategy towards innovation and the enhancement of student experience plus following on from consultation with colleagues; it was decided that the previous method of continually buying laptops for different departments in the college was no longer the best way forward. Sometimes, the laptops didn’t get put back in the classroom trolleys or plugged in correctly, so when another student from the following class went to use them they were more often than not left with low charge. The decision was made to centralise the IT to ensure that there would be a laptop available to all students as they required them.”
In 2015, Nick and his team decided that as well as a centralized solution they needed one where the laptops were fully managed. He goes on to explain “I was doing some research on the internet for centralised (static) laptop management and intelligent charging and came across LapSafe Products. We put out a tender to our purchasing consortium for secure storage for 96 laptops with intelligent charging and we had a couple of tenders come back from other suppliers but they didn’t all offer exactly what we wanted. Most quotes came back with the LapSafe® option for intelligent and in-built charging but none of the other suppliers offered the right solution so we went with LapSafe®. I was in two minds, whether to go with a master keyed solution or with automated self-service option. I am really happy that I chose keys with intelligent charging”.
The 96 devices that Nick chose to use in the Diplomat™ CAM are windows 10 HP stream x 360 solid state hard drive laptops. They start very quickly, perfect for students with lessons to get on with. Choosing the colour of the Diplomat™ unit was debated before the team settled on an aqua colour to match the modern LRC surroundings.”
Warrington Colligate took delivery of their 96 bay Diplomat™ CAM in the summer of 2015. Nick explains “The order and the delivery process was simple, we experienced no problems at all. The Installation was a doddle. We were told prior to delivery how much space was needed for the unit and when the LapSafe® delivery and installation team turned up, we just showed them the wall it was going against and they took over. They were done in a couple of hours, it was brilliant”.
Both the library staff and the IT services worked well together to implement the system at Warrington Collegiate, Bethan Bligh the LRC Manager explains why the decision to choose CAM locks over the self-service LMS system was important for the college. “Our students like other colleges are aged between 16-19 years and some are quite vulnerable, most of them still like to be able to have a small bit of staff interaction to help them feel confident. It gives those students a chance to communicate to myself or my colleagues at least once a day, while they are collecting their laptops. I am really amazed how the relationships are building between staff and students which is great. The students come to the LRC reception before their lessons and we have the laptops ready for them to use, they then bring them back after the lesson. If there are any problems, we are here to ask. Everyone just loves it, they say it has been the best thing ever for the college, and it is really reliable. Some students have never had a chance to work on laptop before but with this system all the students get an equal chance with their studying. This Diplomat™ CAM is really benefiting not only the students but the library staff too. My suggestion is, if you are going to set this type of thing up in a library make sure the library team and IT services work closely together, that way it will be successful combination.” Nick agreed “It worked really well making the decisions together and the feedback that the LRC and IT services has had from staff and students is good and very positive. It has been hugely beneficial to the LRC as students are coming in who don’t usually borrow books, they think it is fantastic and the students love the fact that they are given the responsibly to look after the laptops. They borrow them, then bring them back and then borrow them again later in the day.”
The success of the Diplomat™ CAM at Warrington has meant that Nick and his team would like to add more Diplomat units in other areas of the college. Nick concluded:
“I have been really pleased with how successful and how well it has worked, it is an excellent way of centralising laptops. We generally loan out around 60 laptops before 11am. The key system works really well here in the LRC but we are thinking that maybe the self-service Diplomat™ LMS that could be linked to our own LMS (heritage) could be an option with Biometrics for the future.
I would welcome anyone who is thinking of installing a LapSafe® Diplomat™ CAM with intelligent charging into their school or college to come and have a look at ours because we love and it and I wish we had done it years ago. So if you are thinking of implementing one, my suggestion would be to just go ahead and do it, it is a brilliant piece of kit, you won’t be sorry you did”.
In 2016 the LRC team at Exeter College decided to introduce a self-issue laptop service.
TAFE SA is South Australia’s largest vocational education and training (VET) provider.