Why loaning IT doesn’t have to be scary

Do you loan laptops to students? Or encourage BYOD? James Breakell, of D-Tech International, asseses designated storage and charging cabinets

 The use of computers in every level of education continues to increase, and even the smallest primary school is likely to have a designated space for its IT equipment.

With more schools taking advantage of the value-for-money software available to enhance learning, but with limited budgets restricting spending on hardware, it is inevitable that Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) will compete with using the establishment’s equipment.

When, according to a recent survey of 1,500 parents by Opinium, the average ages of UK children owning a phone, a tablet and smartphone is seven, eight and 10 respectively, it’s no wonder that BYOD is becoming an increasingly viable option.

The risks associated with BYOD are obviously higher in primary schools and need to be carefully managed through policies and protocol, but become less of an issue through the secondary, further and higher levels of education. If BYOD is right for your establishment, it is important that you are able to provide secure storage and charging facilities for devices.

If the idea of BYOD scares your risk-management people witless, you will probably opt for the more expensive, but easier-to-control-and-manage option of having your own devices. Whether these are housed in a computing classroom, available in the library, or a mixture of both, you are probably going to need a few.

If you decide to go for desktop computers, your initial outlay will be higher as will the space required to house them. “But we won’t lose any! If we had laptops they’d all disappear within a week,” I hear you shout. That’s not the case; through innovative technology, you can now store, charge and deploy devices via secure lockers.

University of Sheffield’s Diamond Building

D-Tech International’s ComputeIT modular locker system can be tailored to your needs, and with its steel chassis and doors is an extremely secure, centralised location to entrust with valuable ICT equipment, providing effective crime prevention as well as ICT management. The cabinets are temperature controlled to ensure all devices are kept cool during the charging process and can be linked to your ILS/LMS or supplied with their own database to manage access.

Don’t just take our word for it! The world-class research-led institution, the University of Sheffield, home to an award-winning library service, has eight 12-bay lockers in two of its learning spaces – the Information Commons and the £81m Diamond Building, opened in 2015 – delivering high-quality IT-enabled study areas and 24-hour access to student resources. In these environments, the manual loaning of laptops was limited to staffed hours, so the Library and Corporate Information and Computing Services (CiCS) sought further automation of this function to enhance the service.

D-Tech installed the first ComputeIT unit at Sheffield in 2014 and followed up with a further installation after the Diamond Building opened. 

Sue Dennison, Library Services Manager, says: “The students have found the cabinets easy to use. The portability of the laptops enables the student to use them anywhere within the building, which is great for independent and group study. Although the majority of students have their own laptops, they do not always want to carry expensive and heavy devices around with them, so it is ideal that they can access their university files from the loanable laptops service. 

“We have been very happy with the service we have received from D-Tech; they are very helpful and quick to respond. The cabinets have been a success for students and staff alike, enabling us to use our resources better out in the library, rather than behind a desk issuing laptops.” 

To find out more about D-Tech International and how we can help you, visit d-techinternational.com or call 01394 420077.