Tracking Usage Beyond Student Computers

June 28, 2021 |  Students
3 min

Keeping your finger on the pulse of student technology needs is more important than ever.

Colleges and universities have quickly pivoted from providing desktops in computer labs and classrooms to managing remote devices, reorganizing socially-distanced workspaces and keeping everyone connected whether on campus or at home.

So is it still important to monitor how students use university-provided technology?

Absolutely. But it’s also important to consider how other stakeholders may be using resources. Consider how each of the following users may interact with hardware and software differently:

  • Students
  • Faculty 
  • Staff
  • The public
  • Esports teams
  • Student-athletes and other groups/clubs

Let’s dive into each one to learn the benefits of monitoring computer usage across your entire campus.

*A note on privacy: LabStats will capture usernames when a user logs into a tracked computer. You can change how users show up in LabStats by importing a list of users and assigning report-friendly or obfuscated names for additional privacy.

Related: LabStats 101: How to Import User Lists

Monitoring student-facing computers

These are the resources students use on a regular basis–whether in person or via remote access. They include computer labs, classroom computers, libraries and more. Keeping your finger on the pulse of student needs and available resources enables you to proactively manage campus tech and improve the student experience.

Benefits of monitoring student-facing computers

  • Compare the popularity of different software applications and computer specs to inform budget decisions
  • Notice trends and adjust proactively when resources fall out of favor or are in high demand
  • Verify that ADA resources are available and used to prevent liability exposure
  • Direct students to resources they need
  • Attract students with cutting edge technology
  • And more

Risks of not monitoring student-facing computers

  • Basing initiatives and expenses on educated guesses and estimations
  • Limited ability to plan strategically
  • Deployment of software is either everywhere (site/enterprise license) or potentially unavailable to the students that need it
  • No way to know if newer software packages are becoming more popular than the traditional software
  • No way to assess the burden of “free” software on the network
  • No way to verify if you have the right balance of accessibility resources
Related: Tips to Cut Software Costs in 2021

In short, monitoring student-facing computers enables IT staff to understand student needs and better serve all students. 

Understanding how faculty computers are used

Professors typically receive blanket solutions for hardware and refresh schedules, regardless of what they really need. However, usage data can inform more specific solutions to ensure every professor, TA and faculty member has the hardware and software they need most.

Benefits of monitoring faculty computers

  • Right-size resources
  • Provide wish-list tech
  • Verify appropriate usage
  • Find out if faculty prefer a particular hardware setup over another, such as desktop vs. laptop PCs and possibly reduce hardware they don’t use
  • Adjust the refresh schedule according to usage to keep heavy users happy and save money on rarely used equipment
  • Provide a teacher-viewer login to run reports on specific classroom activity
Related: How Technology Can Support Resilient Pedagogy

Tracking staff computer usage

Staff computers are the computers in the administration office, those used by library staff, student center workers, counselors or other staff on campus.

Benefits of monitoring staff computers

  • Verify the need for software, especially expensive software
  • Clean up software images so staff only have what’s needed
  • Simplify refresh schedules
  • Improve the accuracy of IT resource planning in annual budgets

Monitoring public use of university tech

It’s important to understand how public-facing resources are used on campus. 

Benefits of tracking public use computers

  • Maximize budget by understanding where and how computers are used
  • Increase IT department efficiency by aligning service time-spend with hardware use
  • Improve user experience by right-sizing available software and hardware according to use
  • Understand multi-use and shared spaces to plan for future growth
  • Verify that appropriate software is installed
  • Clearly understand opportunities to maximize resources by using classroom labs for dual use: open lab access during non-classroom hours
  • Understand opportunities to expand resources without adding infrastructure
  • Enable focused resource rollouts for class specific software

Learning how Esports teams use campus resources

Esports teams use university resources differently from any other group. Whether practicing or competing, you can expect focused applications and long duration times.

It’s essential to understand how these groups use resources to anticipate spending and plan for growth in upcoming years.

Benefits of tracking Esports computers

  • Track demand: are Esports spaces large and well-equipped enough to accommodate student athletes?
  • Add additional resources as needed based on usage trends
  • Establish a cutting edge IT reputation
  • Serve a previously underserved student group
Related Podcast: S1:E8 Dr. Ray Pastore – Tech that draws students to campus

With insights into these additional computers, you have the opportunity to increase faculty and staff satisfaction, improve IT department efficiency, and verify that user needs are met without overspending.

To see what insights you could gain through usage data, schedule a walkthrough. If you already have LabStats and would like to see how you can start tracking additional computers on campus, schedule a tutorial.

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