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Print still has its place in the classroom and university, writes Simon Fry

While the last journalists may have moved out of Fleet Street last year, and newspaper circulations continue to struggle, the printed word remains very much alive in education. Just as parents look forward to the joy of seeing a storybook in their child’s hands, so older children and young adults remain fans of tactile text.  

“No student is the same, therefore ‘stand and deliver’ teaching is unlikely to capture the imagination or energise the classroom,” says Neil Sawyer, HP education director (UK &I). “Interestingly, according to Voxburner, 62% of 16–24-year-olds prefer printed books to e-books. There is a clear appetite for both screen and paper-based learning and the ability to print on-demand is fundamental. Therefore, we have been reinventing printers, making them compatible with any device via the HP ePrint App, ensuring they are designed and deployed with the modern student in mind.”

Some staggering costs came to light when HP teamed with a South Coast school.  Neil explains, “Management teams often view printing as a costly luxury, rather than a popular learning tool. Just recently, we worked with the Portsmouth Grammar School to revitalise their printers, boost efficiency and save paper. Like many schools, they were spending up to £30,000 annually on ink and approximately 80% of student prints went straight in the bin!”

As in many areas of technology, the total cost of ownership was a major consideration. “As well as rolling out colour and mono HP Officejet, LaserJet and HP Multifunction Printers, an HP Managed Print Services contract helped reduce the cost of ownership. For example, everyone must use a swipe card to collect print jobs, and uncollected prints are automatically deleted. Everyone has a right to a quality education with access to the best tools and we are determined to help staff and students become more collaborative with the latest technology.”

Brian Young

Print is moving with the times, according to Brian Young, solutions manager UTAX (UK) Ltd. “Technology in the classroom is evolving at a rapid rate and print is no exception. The use of BYOD in education is well documented but the best print solutions are the ones providing a way to manage documents and not just print them, both in classrooms and across a school’s admin function. Students want a more collaborative, engaged and integrated learning space, and demand the freedom to use their preferred personal device to do it, which in turn drives the need to safeguard networks and data. Teachers can benefit from the ability to personalise printing and from dedicated apps streamlining workflows and saving time.”

Brian sees a plethora of positives when it comes to print. “Anyone associated with providing education services will be aware of the need to control document output, account for and charge back for prints, copies and scans, which is where the link between hardware and software comes into play. The UTAX EduPack, for example, provides software tracking and managing these services as well as BYOD facilities, and facilitates automated department-by-department billing, as well as looking after security through ID card or biometric authentication. Integration, engagement, collaboration, accountability, management, efficiency, control: the benefits of smart printing to the education world can and should be extremely far-reaching.”

Connectivity within the printing process is a key consideration for educational establishments, according to Andrew Hall, marketing manager of OKI systems. “With schools and universities facing ongoing budgetary constraints, cost-effective digital printing and document management are key to the learning process and the creation of educational materials. The enhanced connectivity of the latest smart printing solutions is driving efficiencies across the sector.

The BYOD trend is seeing students using their own laptops, tablets and smartphones to access documents and information, reducing costs and increasing user engagement. Google Cloud Print and Apple AirPrint-ready OKI devices make it possible to print on the move. Moreover, the capability of the teacher to store documents in the cloud and students to print on demand using smart MFPs can also be more cost effective than printing multiple copies, reducing waste and delays.”

The benefits brought by control of printing are also significant. “The latest printing technologies can also help deliver tighter control over departmental spending, restricting user rights and implementing volume restrictions via an output management system. Smart MFP panels can be used to help review print queues and monitor user quotas, card readers can act as authentication devices while printers have the option of QR code labels that are read via smartphones. Added to this, schools and colleges can make further savings by adopting energy efficient applications contained in OKI devices such as Deep Sleep mode and auto power off.”

While we may be moving in the direction of the paperless educational establishment and office, this move is not inexorable or inevitable. It seems paper is not ready to be written off any time soon. 

Case study:

A YSoft SafeQ solution enabled Bexleyheath’s St. Columba’s School to replace all of the school’s (at times) costly and inefficient desktop printers with Konica Minolta networked multifunctional printers (MFPs). It is now easier and more convenient for staff and students to print, copy and scan – whilst significantly reducing the school’s overall printing costs.

To help staff and pupils focus on their work and studies, the school wanted to eliminate sources of inconvenience and wasted time in its print environment, whilst reducing printing costs and protecting document security and confidentiality (staff were having to dash to the printer to collect confidential papers). The school was using approximately 50 desktop printers of a variety of makes and models, which were expensive to supply, maintain and administer. The cost of procuring and replacing the various types of ink cartridges, repairing malfunctioning printers and keeping print drivers up-to-date was vast, in terms of both consumables and labour.  With this scattered, decentralised print environment, it was impossible for the school to track printing and copying operations or to control costs.

To meet all of their needs, the school chose Konica Minolta multifunctional printers together with YSoft SafeQ Professional Edition, with licensing per server. The solution also included YSoft SafeQ Konica Minolta Terminal Embedded software installed on 18 Konica Minolta MFPs. This solution enables the school to track and account for every print, copy and scan and to administer the entire print system from a single web-based interface.