By Jacob Poore.
A computer lab in a vending machine? That’s what UC Riverside’s Information Technology Solutions (ITS) organization made possible when it implemented self-service laptop checkout kiosks on campus for students.
The kiosks are a lot like a vending machine — or video rental kiosk — for campus-owned laptops, and offer three device options, including Dell Latitude, Dell Chromebook, and Apple MacBook Pro.
A student can simply visit a kiosk and navigate a touchscreen that authenticates the student’s identity and dispenses a charged device. Once a laptop has been checked out, it may be used for up to 24 hours on or off campus. Upon return, the student’s personal information and activity are erased, and the laptop’s battery is charged for the next user.
“Our goal with this project is to provide UCR students the technology tools they need, at their convenience,” said Sam Robbin, executive director of Campus Support Services for ITS. “These laptop kiosks give students the flexibility to take the same applications and software available to them in the campus computer labs on the go, whether that is their next biology class or the coffee shop down the street.”
UC Riverside partnered with LaptopsAnytime, which manufactures the kiosks, to implement the new service. Currently, there are two kiosks at UC Riverside; one in the Orbach Science Library and another in the Tomás Rivera Library.
“The laptops have been extremely popular with students since the rollout,” said Duffy Chisholm, support systems analyst for ITS, who provides technical support for the kiosks. “There’s hardly a day where the kiosks aren’t almost empty,” he added.
Financial support for the first two kiosks came from the Student Technology Fee (STF) assessment. Plans to add more kiosks are underway with joint funding from the offices of the provost and of the chief Information officer (CIO).
“Our students expect to have the technology they need on their terms, and it’s our job to enable their success,” said Danna Gianforte, associate vice chancellor and CIO. “The laptop kiosks empower our students with greater access to technology along with more convenience and flexibility. With more kiosks soon to be added across campus, UCR also has the opportunity to evaluate the feasibility of repurposing existing physical computer lab space for other important campus needs.”
The laptop kiosk implementation was supported by a multi-channel communication campaign which included everything from flyers and digital screen ads, to emails and how-to videos.
Jacob Poore is communication specialist in Information Technology Services, UC Riverside.