Back from the annual EDUCAUSE Conference in Denver, and we’ve been reviewing responses to our technology survey. Over 60 institutions, and nearly 80 higher education IT representatives attending EDUCAUSE took part to tell us the advantages of offering loaner pools of equipment to students.
Here are the top 3 ranked benefits from the survey results:
1. Studying becomes more financially affordable
This was ranked the top benefit by a considerable margin. Equipment lending services enable students to borrow key resources to support their studies, making their time at college more affordable. It relates to the fact that students are often at the limit of their borrowing capacity using federal student loans and such services provide them with important free-of-charge resources (see our earlier press release here).
Findings this year from ECAR indicate that some key hardware is not owned by considerable numbers of students (e.g. tablets at only 40%). Loaner pools may also include laptop stock, with some colleges running laptop loan programs for those in greater financial need. Equipment lending services also help with course affordability where more bleeding-edge technologies are involved, so students can develop the latest skills without finding money for expensive kit. VR/AR equipment along with VR-ready laptops are examples of this.
2. It supports learning outcomes
Having timely access to the right equipment ensures students can complete their assignments more efficiently and to a higher standard. Some equipment (such as tablets) support collaborative project work. Plus lots of courses have a practical element involving use of specialized equipment to conduct experiments, collect data or produce media work. Having the equipment centrally managed and loaned out ensures it’s maintained in good condition and with the right specification for the task.
3. To support students in producing more accomplished creative output
Institutions are providing multimedia equipment to students to facilitate more media-rich academic output and creativity. Undergraduate coursework is increasingly being submitted in non-written formats – a trend which has become the norm in a range of subjects beyond media courses. A recent international study in the use of video in education published by video platform Kaltura, found that 69% of institutions include video in student assignments, with 15% reporting that more than half of their students actively create video. Read more in our recent blog here.
So how many institutions provide loaner pools of equipment? Our survey results indicate that most do, with varying arrangements as to whether the operation is provided centrally to all students, or to support particular departments:
Given the above student benefits you might wonder why provision of equipment lending isn’t available in closer to 100% of institutions. Maybe it's because running an equipment lending service sounds like a big administrative overhead? However, this often isn’t the case. Equipment checkout and reservation software is commonly used to lighten the workload.
This kind of software enables students to view and reserve items online, while helping staff with faster checkouts and inventory management support. Lorensbergs’ connect2 software is a leading example of the kind of software in place.
Further research findings on the benefits of using such a system are available in an earlier blog post here.