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TechCenter Expands Checkout Services

August 18, 2016

We have increased the number of Chromebooks and made some changes for improved service.

TechCenter Expands Checkout Services

We're excited to announce changes to both our short term checkout and long term loaner programs at the ITSS TechCenter that substantially increase our checkout fleet, expand our services further to students, and provide a better user experience for students, faculty and staff.

Short-term checkout service allows students, faculty and staff to check out and use computers (as well as other audio visual equipment) on an as-needed basis. Check out is restricted to 24 hours in most cases.

Long term loaner service provides loaner laptops to faculty and staff who have their primary University-owned computer in for repair at the TechCenter. Check out is restricted to the length of time the user’s computer is in for repair.

Last year, we processed over 1,700 short term checkout requests and over 1,600 computer repairs; our equipment fleet was often all checked out, leaving us unable to meet new requests.

Traditionally, we provided Windows and Mac laptops for both short term checkouts and loaners. While these worked well for our customers, their high initial cost and extensive ongoing staff cycles to keep them updated and secure limited the number we could have in our checkout fleet.

We added Chromebooks as another option for short term checkouts and customer feedback was positive – customers liked the reduced size and weight of the Chromebooks and their ease of use (turn on and go). The reduced initial cost of the Chromebooks, as well as their limited set up and maintenance, made them a success from our standpoint as well.

After completing additional testing and carefully reviewing our options, we made the decision this summer to move our short term checkout fleet to Chromebooks only, and to reserve Windows and Mac laptops for long term University loaners. This change allows us to:

  • More than double our inventory for short term checkout (Chromebooks) for students, faculty and staff. (We will maintain a small number of Windows computers for those who need LockDown Browser, WebEx, or other programs that don’t run effectively on Chromebooks.)
  • Substantially increase our loaner fleet of Windows and Mac laptops for faculty and staff University-owned equipment, and leverage Casper and Active Directory to configure these laptops to more closely mimic a standard office laptop. The laptops have access to general University software, AD file shares and printing, plus the ability to install additional software and store data files locally if needed. (There is a fee of $52.00 for staff time to re-image the computer to a secure state when it is returned to the TechCenter.)
  • Expand our repair loaner program to include students who have their personal computer in for repair by offering Chromebooks for long term repairs. This no-cost option is also available to faculty and staff who have their primary University-owned computer in for repair.

We believe these changes enable us to expand and improve overall customer service to the campus. If you have questions or feedback, please contact Sally Bradt, 726-8856, sbradt@d.umn.edu.

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