Tracking Usage Beyond Student Computers

Although created to track student computers on college campuses, over the years we’ve heard creative ways that CIO’s and lab managers are using LabStats. Turns out, student facing computers are just the tip of the iceberg, and there’s far-reaching benefits to tracking usage of faculty, staff and other computers around campus.  

But first, let’s dive into the benefits of tracking student computers.

Student Facing Computers

These are the resources students use on a regular basis, including computer lab and classroom computers. 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 tracking

  • 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 tracking

  • 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 missing 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

In short, tracking computers enables lab managers to understand student needs better serve all students. Who else on campus might benefit from this type of proactive service, and what does it look like?

Faculty Computers

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 tracking

  • 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

Staff Computers

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 tracking

  • 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

Kiosks

Many schools have added standing kiosks to common spaces and libraries around campus. Kiosks are usually student or public facing, and can display campus maps, LabMaps and event schedules.

Benefits of tracking

  • Improve student experience
  • Improve staff efficiency
  • Understand how people are interacting with kiosks to proactively improve the user experience and highlight the most sought-after information
  • Determine if you need more kiosks or other student facing tools based on usage and traffic patterns

Open Lab

An open lab is an area with computer stations that can be accessed by students and the public. This is especially beneficial to track as they often have a wider range of users with different needs.

Benefits of tracking

  • 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

Classroom Lab

Whether the lab is exclusively used for classes, or for both classes and open lab space, it’s important to track usage specifically.

Benefits of tracking

  • Verify that appropriate software is installed
  • Clearly understand opportunities to maximize resources by using classroom labs  for a 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
  • Provide a teacher-viewer login to run reports on specific classroom activity

Esports Spaces

Esports are a growing trend on college campuses with competition arenas and devoted practice spaces. Tracking usage of these computers is essential to justifying spend and anticipating budgets for upcoming years.

Benefits of tracking

  • 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

Virtual Desktops (VDI)

LabStats works with physical thin clients and can track virtual desktops. There are far-reaching benefits to tracking VDI as the trend grows.

Benefits of tracking

  • Assess future VDI trends vs. traditional lab spaces
  • Provide restricted access to expensive software while still making it available for those who need it

Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)

BYOD may be the future of campus tech, so collecting usage data early is key. BYOD computers use university credentials to access software and other resources provided by the university, so it’s important to see how these are used in comparison to more traditional on campus resources.

Benefits of tracking

  • Understand what software is and isn’t being used by BYOD devices
  • Plan for future needs based on usage trends and patterns
  • Predict expenses to simplify budget planning

Single Purpose Computers

The most overlooked computers on campus are those that are used for a single purpose. Think science lab computers that are connected to machinery, computers exclusively used with 3D printers, Bloomberg terminals or podium computers that only see action during conferences or presentations.

Benefits of tracking

  • Verify resources are being used as intended
  • Ensure software versions are up to date
  • Minimize image size

Library and Student Center Computers

Study spaces and library computers may not fit into the “computer lab” umbrella, but should be tracked. Student center computers or support resources for ESL students can greatly benefit from usage data insights.

Benefits of tracking

  • Show traffic patterns to improve layout of large spaces
  • Establish staff schedules around peak demand
  • Provide feedback to departments about use of resources from users within their department
  • Reallocate computers according to student traffic and use patterns

Take a mental inventory of all the computers on your campus that you’re not tracking. What valuable insights might you be missing? Is a lack of insight costing you money or preventing you from providing a better experience?

Risks of not tracking other hardware on campus:

  • Pay for computers that have limited use
  • Overlooking machines when addressing IT updates
  • Assume you are getting value out of the kiosk or computer when that may not be the case
  • Bottleneck growth of Esports at your institution due to ill-equipped or overloaded spaces
  • Unknown virtual activity shares many of the same possible consequences as unknown hardware activity
  • Unable to prepare for a change in demand for BYOD in the future
  • Unknown vulnerabilities (physical or digital) that could negatively affect expensive hardware

Risks of not tracking other software on campus:

  • Pay for software that is not used
  • Old versions of software may be lingering on “out of sight” computers, increasing vulnerability and compatibility issues, eventually demanding more time from IT staff
  • Risk expensive, unjustified software expenses
  • Prone to issues due to outdated software or improper use
  • Supporting software packages that are underused

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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