Having access to the right equipment and technologies is of increasing importance to students’ academic success. The quickening pace of innovation and development of collaborative technologies are obvious drivers. While having access to the right technology might be as simple as owning a smartphone (95% of students do according to ECAR), it often requires more. Consider tablets – incredibly useful and popular for group study and interaction – yet here ownership already drops to only 40%. By the time we begin to consider the areas of AR and VR, we see ownership of the necessary headsets dropping to only 4%. So access often falls short of meeting needs.
Consider these requirements in an environment where students are often maxed out on student loans and it’s easy to see the pressures resting on institutions to arrange access to the required resources. This is leading to much greater importance being placed on the role of loaner pools in higher education. You can read more about this in Lorensbergs’ press release here.
Use of connect2 software is now in place in over 100 higher education institutions – a milestone reached this summer. For the colleges and universities that use it, it provides best opportunity for students to borrow and use technologies without cost. And its usefulness goes beyond borrowing rather than buying. Students are much less likely to incur penalties around borrowing arrangements. Simply put, the connect2 workflows and communications help them stick to the rules around borrowing resources. In other circumstances, fines can quickly add up. With connect2, the incidence of late items reduces by 90% and the need for fines diminishes according to a Cal Poly case study.
What’s also important here is that colleges can provide an equipment lending operation without the administrative overheads. Connect2 uses reservation self-service and inventory management efficiencies to make this possible.
It’s interesting to see the growing range of technologies for which connect2 is managing access in higher education. It’s often driven by the expectation that students now create video as part of assignments – digital cameras, lighting and microphones are becoming essential pieces of kit. Some colleges are making drones available to students to support more ambitious projects involving data collection or film making. And going back to the example of AR and VR technology, many institutions have been quick to provide undergraduate programs in game design where this technology is lending the industry an exciting new dimension. Its use is also growing in engineering education and training, plus there are numerous other opportunities for experiential learning using AR across disciplines.
Connect2 enables institutions to run equipment lending schemes so maximum numbers of students can make use of the facility, helping them leverage technologies for better performance without the expense they might not be able to afford. Loaner pools already represent an essential service, and their profile is only set to grow further in importance.