In our case study with the Media Resources Department at University of the West of England, we discuss how connect2 is used to manage their Media Centre resources.
The study explores how connect2 was introduced to manage 300 pieces of portable equipment and has since grown to cover over 700 items, looking at the benefits that have arisen since its implementation.
Having used a very old system that had been custom designed for us over 10 years before, we were finding that the software was far too basic and didn’t fulfil the ever increasing demands that we had for our equipment.
We were finding it almost impossible to manage multiple bookings and processes were complicated and manual. We decided to begin a search for a new solution that would make our department more efficient for both our students and members of staff.
What we were looking for
With our old system we were finding it almost impossible to book multiple items, which was proving a real problem with third year students who were at production level.
We were also finding it time consuming to manually check permission levels on what students were allowed to book and found it difficult to keep track of overdue kit. Both these tasks were easily overlooked during busy times in addition to the software needing to be updated each academic year which in itself was a slow and tiresome task.
These issues formed the basis of our search for a new system, with our main objective being to solve them! After some research on the internet and a demo of a competitor product, we then had a demo from Lorensbergs.
To ensure that all needs were met, the Resource and Technical Resource Co-ordinators plus the Technical Instructors and Department Manager were all involved in the discussions.
The demo and installation
“This piece of software did it all and looked ideal.”
Two representatives from Lorensbergs walked us through the features of connect2, being very patient with our constant and demanding questions. We were extremely impressed with the product and with their knowledge and professionalism, which still remains today.
Although connect2 was very much wanted after we had had the demo, we were unable to purchase at the time due to budgets. However after submitting a business case to senior management some time later, we were granted funding and an installation was arranged.
A Lorensbergs’ technical representative worked with our IT Services to install connect2 over a two day period. The technical support we received after installation to perfect the system set up and also to cover training was amazing. It’s advisable to install connect2 during a semester break so you are free to configure the system and make the most of your set up before students return.
Connect2 was initially installed to manage the media centre resources. This included portable media equipment; cameras, sound recorders, lights, grips, batteries etc. It has since grown to cover over 700 items for this department alone which are managed; booked, issued and tracked using the software. There are over 5000 students with the potential to borrow our resources from us and they each have an ‘account’ to which permissions are set depending on workshop attendance.
We additionally have a number of specialist facilities and edit suites in the media centre and in a separate building for which connect2 is used to manage the bookings.
The benefits for staff
For Media Centre and counter staff connect2 has made a massive difference. We love the barcoding of items that the checkout module facilitates, and we deliberately chose to be able to create our own barcodes to keep the coding simple.
We also really like the parent-child facility, which means that we can check that really small, but valuable items like lens kits, go with their respective camera. Following advice from our friends at Falmouth University, we kept this simple and didn’t over complicate this.
We really like that the system is web based and doesn’t need backing up by us every night as we used to do with our old system and it doesn’t take up memory space on the desk computer.
Due to the new system being that much more thorough, it is now far more feasible to have multiple counter staff. Cover staff or part timers can come in, create and issue bookings under their own username, and have counter staff accounts.
“It’s difficult to remember how we managed with the old system! It has revolutionised the smoothness and time on the issue desk, and I hope significantly improved the student experience.”
The benefits for students
We rolled out online bookings from the first day of term when we began using the new system, and we gave students short inductions on where to find the site and how to book equipment.
We set up booking limits because we knew that some students would book out everything, all the time, however we found this restricting for final year students who need a larger selection of production kits for longer periods of time.
We find that some of these students still prefer to make their bookings for kit face-to-face, where we will make bookings on their behalf using connect2. With all information centralised, this is never a problem.
“If anyone was thinking about purchasing connect2, I would say that if they are working in a similar environment then this is a great piece of software.”
We like the ‘shopping list’ feature where you can keep adding items and then check availability. This is the one key and most significant advantage over our previous system. You are able to see which items are booked and which are free, and the student can then decide whether they want to either change the dates to get the kit they want, or if they can manage without a specific item.
We like how the system ‘feels’ for students, acting like regular websites they would use (Amazon, eBay, etc.), which makes using the system ‘user-friendly’.
We also like that the system connects to our main student database, where we are working towards a seamless flow of updated information to avoid a mass data input in September after registration.
Changes since installation
The connect2 system has proved indispensable to the Media Resources Department, with items managed more than doubling since installation. Connect2 is also now used to manage access to resources in six further departments across the University. The system’s flexible design makes it highly adaptable and scalable. Departments covered include Environment and Technology, Photography Loans and Library Services, all in all amounting to approximately 20,000 equipment and facility bookings per year.
We run a very large number of workshops, which can be up to 45-50 a week in a busy period and entering in workshop attendance, although is essential, is time consuming and tedious. We are hoping to find ways of improving this element along with a more enhanced method of entering student booking permissions.
“Lorensbergs’ supports and develops connect2 on a regular basis, with usually four upgrades per year. This, along with the User Group meetings each year, means we get a say in the future direction of connect2, which is a big plus for us.”
For more information on how connect2 could work for your organisation, give us a call on 01992 415505 or email email@example.com