When to be Skeptical of Data: Summaries and Averages

Data is awesome, but it can also be tricky. Regardless of your skill level, we’re all prone to common mistakes when it comes to gathering, visualizing and interpreting data. Knowing when to be skeptical of your results, and how to dig deeper will help you make the best decisions with the data you get from LabStats.

Summaries and Averages

Summary reports are a great way to get started with data. They give you a high level view so you can get a feel for what’s happening in your computer labs. However, if you make decisions simply based on summary results, you may be misled. There’s two ways to ensure you’re getting balanced and accurate data with summary reports.

Cross Reference Reports

The Average Login History report shows a historical timeline of the average number of logins. Think of it as the “velocity” of student use, or how many individual sessions are being started within a time frame. For example, a kiosk area where students typically log in for 2 minute sessions, but many hundreds of students login a day, would have high student usage velocity.

Average Login History Report

This example shows the average number of logins. It looks like students use the Library much more than the Rocky Mountain lab. 

However, the number of logins only shows part of the picture. If you dive deeper into the login sessions, you can see that although fewer students are logging in to the Rocky Mountain lab each day, they’re using the computers for an average of 4 hours. Students in the Library, on the other hand are using the computers for an average of 2 minutes, which allows for higher login rates.

Rocky Mountain Stations (4 hour sessions)
Library Stations (2 minute sessions)

Most schools have a lab where students simply check email or print assignments. Those “quick hit” labs will show a disproportionately large number of logins when compared to another lab where students settle in to work on a project for several hours. 

Without checking the session times, you might be tempted to write off the Rocky Mountain lab as less of a priority and delay refreshes or technical support. This would be a mistake as the students are clearly relying on the Rocky Mountain lab to work on major assignments.

Although the data in the Average Login History report was accurate, it needed to be balanced with additional context from the Login Session reports. Using companion reports build a more complete picture so you can make better decisions.

Schedules and Holidays

When you just want to get a high level snapshot of usage, it’s easy to forget to set the parameters of reports. One criteria that can greatly affect the accuracy of your data (at any level) is setting schedules and holidays.

Labs that are open twenty-four hours a day can and should have a different definition of 100% utilization than labs that are only open for 3 hours a day. Class schedules, weekends, and regular maintenance hours should be considered when comparing usage of different labs.

Setting a schedule is especially important for the Usage History report, which shows the percentage of computer utilization based on open lab hours. 

In the same way, it’s easy to overlook holidays when analyzing reports that span a whole semester or year. Setting up holidays (and updating annually) before you start pulling reports can improve the accuracy of your summary and average reports.

Although there are some inherent dangers with relying on summaries and averages, they are still powerful tools to understanding computer usage better. Being aware of blind spots, proactively setting criteria and utilizing companion reports are the best ways to get the most accurate and reliable data.

How to Even Out Computer Lab Usage Across Campus

Uneven computer lab usage leads to student complaints and high-turnover hardware. So how do you combat this problem?

Cartoon of students in line for a computer lab

Help Students Find Open Computers

Oftentimes a lab is underutilized because students don’t know it exists. They flock to common areas like the library or student center, walking past smaller labs in department buildings or multi-use classroom labs.

Showing students where to find available computers is easy with LabMaps. These simple computer lab maps use dynamic icons to show computer availability in real time. Post LabMaps on TV displays, kiosks, the school’s website or mobile app.

Custom labmaps
LabMap

“We noticed that certain labs on campus formed lines as students waited for available computers while other labs elsewhere on campus had open seats. LabStats makes it easy to publish real-time computer lab availability information online so students can easily see which labs have open computers.”

Brendan O’Looney, Principal Technical Specialist, National University of Ireland – Galway Ireland

Identify and Rotate the Most Used Hardware

Even if you’re able to direct students to underutilized labs, you may still run into a problem of uneven usage between machines. 

Missy Borter and her team at Indiana University Northwest came up with a creative solution to even out computer usage within each lab.

Identify the most used computer in a lab

“We created what we refer to as a “Hot Seat” layout, indicating the most used computers in our Student Technology Centers and kiosks. After gathering all the data, we realized that the most used computers were workhorses, so we decided to replace them periodically with an underutilized computer in the same area. This resulted in computers requiring less maintenance, having improved performance and a longer life.”

Missy Borter, Indiana University Northwest

To see the most used computer in your lab, run a Login Summary by Group report.

Dig Deeper to Find Creative Solutions

Aside from communicating resources and rotating machines, there may be other reasons why students flock to one lab or one computer. You can use LabStats reports to start answering some of the following questions as you dig deeper:

Question:

How to find the answer in LabStats:


How do I know which computer labs are being used the most/least?

Run a Usage History Report to compare large and small labs based on the percentage of use.


Does the age of a computer affect usage?

Tag the install date and run a Login Summary by Group Report and a Usage History Report to compare computer usage by age. Running both reports will show you the number of logins and the length of sessions.


Are some computers used more because of the software installed?

Run an Application Summary Report to see which applications are used most and least.


Do lab hours affect usage?

Run a Peak Usage History Report across a semester to identify the busiest lab times, and compare the results with your lab schedules.


Does the location of a computer make it more popular (ie: close to the door)?

Run a Login Summary by Station Report and a Usage History Report and cross-reference the highest used stations (by number of logins and session length) with a floorplan or LabMap of the space.


How do I identify underutilized computers?

Run a Login Summary by Station Report to identify the least used computers. See if you can find a commonality like hardware type, age, location, etc.

Timing is everything. Before a semester begins, you might take the opportunity to move computers around in anticipation of student demand. However, in the middle of a semester, it’s easier to “move the students” by directing them to less used labs.

It’s worth it to take the time to investigate and experiment. Evening out lab usage can improve the student experience and lengthen the life of resources.



Finding Lab Space in a Tight Real Estate Market

Real estate on college campuses is tight. Between shrinking budgets and competition over space, adding a new computer lab may seem like a pipe dream. So if building a new lab isn’t an option, how do you move forward?

Both Macalester College and Mount Royal University used LabStats to facilitate creative solutions and get more out of their existing spaces.

Add a Class to a Computer Lab

Macalester College is a private liberal arts college in Minnesota. With just over 2,000 students, they have limited space and limited resources. So when the Psychology department wanted to add a class and host it in an existing computer lab in the Psychology building, IT was skeptical.

Macalester College

The IT team turned to data to see if it was possible to add a class to their already busy computer lab. They ran a Login History report with two different sets of criteria– by hour and by 15 minute intervals.

Login History Reports

After running the reports, they discovered that students didn’t use the computer lab between 9:40am-11:10am on weekdays. With data in hand, they approved the additional Psychology class for Tuesdays and Thursdays at 9:40am. 

IT adjusted the computer lab hours around the new class, confident that students wouldn’t miss having access to the lab during that time. The new schedule provided students with the best experience by keeping similar classes in close proximity and allowed the Psychology department to feel ownership of the space.

Combine a Classroom and Computer Lab

In another area on Macalester’s campus, there were ongoing space challenges with an active learning classroom. So in 2018, IT relocated a computer lab into the space.

Before
After

With the investment in hiding furniture, IT needed a way to track usage to ensure the computers weren’t just overlooked. They used the LabStats API to create a simple map to communicate computer availability and monitor activity.

Convert a Lab into a Classroom

Mount Royal University is a public university in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. With 12,000 students, 70 IT staff and approximately 150 labs on campus, maximizing space to meet a wide range of needs is key.

The perception was that computer labs on campus were being used to their full extent. However, when IT staff started tracking usage, they discovered that many labs weren’t used to their maximum capacity.

Mount Royal computer lab

Since running the reports, IT has been able to eliminate four labs without sacrificing service levels. The labs were able to be opened up for classroom use, creating significant savings for the IT department while also establishing additional revenue opportunities for the school.

Find the Balance

For both Macalester and Mount Royal, usage reports revealed opportunities to improve their spaces to better meet the needs of students and growing departments.

Think about the space you already have on campus. Are there rooms designated for classes, while others are exclusively used as computer labs? What would it take to make those spaces more flexible? Is it possible to accommodate both departmental growth and a higher demand for open computers?

With usage data, you can identify when those spaces are underutilized, and start making informed decisions about your computer labs.

This content was originally shared at the LabMan conference, by Jeremy Sedrick.

What is Computer Lab Monitoring Software?

Do you remember what driving was like before GPS navigation? Traveling to a new place, even in your home city, could be quite the undertaking if you didn’t plan appropriately, consult a map and budget extra time to navigate.

What if you were travelling to another state? What if you got lost? What steps would you take to get back on track and find your way? Still, for most of human history we navigated from place to place without GPS, but rather with maps and the occasional help of a friendly local. Fast forward to today: would you hand the car keys over to a freshly-licensed 16-year-old without a GPS and expect them to arrive at a distant destination?

Absolutely not.

A new driver today would use the GPS on their phone and navigate safely wherever they desire. GPS devices are even advanced enough to redirect you to the proper route if you take a wrong turn or get off-track somehow.

Computer lab monitoring software—software such as LabStats—is like a GPS for what’s happening in your campus IT environment.

Remember our example of a newly-licensed 16 year old? Now imagine a new university IT staff member tasked with making decisions about software licensing, hardware availability and student usage of computers without a lab monitoring tool. Would you expect them to understand what’s happening in their IT environment and trust them to make appropriate software licensing and budgeting decisions? What about decisions regarding campus computer lab hours, or if the campus needs more wheelchair accessible machines, or if a new piece of software included on a campus-wide image is seeing enough use to justify the cost? 

Better yet, imagine a university CIO whose teams don’t have a computer lab monitoring tool. How can such a CIO be expected to avoid costly mistakes? It’s difficult to optimize a budget, manage stakeholder expectations and push forward large IT initiatives without data to justify your decisions. Campus IT leaders may be able to get by with manual observations and guesswork for a while. But how much would that cost in labor and incorrect data in the long run? 

Great computer monitoring software provides reliable, accurate data an IT department needs to stay on track or course correct if need be.

IT Department NeedBenefit / Application
Data that provides a clear picture about software useOptimize software budget around actual student use
Data that provides a clear picture about hardware useOptimize budget, staff hours and hardware refresh schedule
Data that is meaningful, easy to understand, read and digestArrive at data-informed decisions quickly, support robust data analysis
Tools to right-size software and hardware utilizationLoad-balance campus resources, particularly hardware resources or resources for specific groups (accessibility devices, etc.)
Tools to conduct experiments and organize dataSupport deep-dive analysis into specific questions (Do we need more OCR readers? How are ESL, Architectural Studies or Spanish speaking students using technology? on campus?)
Data collection tools that are compliantMitigate risks from student data privacy laws, including GDPR
Tools to visualize or display dataConclusions from data analysis become easy to share with executives or decision makers outside of IT discipline; knowledge becomes easily transferable

Navigating today’s IT decisions without monitoring software is like driving across the country without a GPS. And just as the original Garmin GPS (which sold for $550 in 1998) is now resting in a museum, it’s time to retire the old ways of lab management and embrace a reliable and affordable solution.

LabStats computer lab monitoring software is the market-leading tool for colleges and universities worldwide. To learn more about LabStats, schedule a walkthrough.

What is an API?

“API” stands for Application Programming Interface. If that doesn’t make things crystal clear, read on.

Think of an API like a bridge. It allows information to travel from one piece of software to another. You’ve likely used services that rely on APIs, without even knowing it. For instance, hotel booking sites use APIs to collect room details and rates from different hotels, and then show you the best deals all in one place.

APIs make it possible for separate computer programs or services to “talk to” each other, making it possible to automate certain tasks such as the exporting of data. APIs can also increase security by controlling access to shared data through a stable, standardized platform.

What can the LabStats API do?

The LabStats API makes it possible to share LabStats data with other software programs. You can share station, application, user and schedule data with software and websites you already use. For example, you can use the API to share data with your accounting software, inventory management software and business intelligence tools.

LabStats Data Categories:

  • Stations
  • Applications
  • Users
  • Schedules

Share LabStats Data with:

  • Accounting software
  • Inventory management
  • Business intelligence tools
  • Student facing websites & applications

With the LabStats API, you can do custom data analysis, sync your scheduling system with LabStats data, and see inventory and purchasing info side by side with usage data.

Improve Student Experience with the API

You can also use the new LabStats API to improve the student experience. Many schools have built custom websites, mobile apps and electronic displays to show students computer availability in real time, in the apps they already use.

Manhattan College used the API to access data from their LabStats instance, and built a custom platform called “LabSeat.” LabSeat showcases real time availability of computers on campus through charts and maps.

Manhattan College LabSeat, powered by the LabStats API
Computer availability at Manhattan College

Next steps

APIs are fairly simple to use, and developing a tool based on an API is a great project for student workers or summer interns. Check out the best practices and testing sandboxes to learn more.

API Usage Best Practices

How to Use the LabStats API

Documentation and Testing Sandboxes

North America: https://api.labstats.com

Australia, New Zealand, & Asia: https://sea-api.labstats.com

Europe: https://weu-api.labstats.com

What will your team build with the new LabStats API?

55 Questions You Can Answer with Tags

We’re going to do things a little backwards here. Rather than sharing the most common questions we get from customers, we’re going to share the most common answer.

Tags.

That’s right, tags. We say it over and over again because tags are probably the most powerful, yet most underutilized tool in LabStats.  

LabStats software comes with a ton of ready-to-use reports, but you can also create custom reports to answer a wide range of questions. The majority of questions can be answered by setting up tags (quick and easy identifiers) in LabStats so that the reports you pull highlight the information that’s most important to you.

Before we dive into the questions, it’s important to know that you can set up tags in 3 categories: stations, applications and users. Station tags may include things like manufacturer, model, or initial install year. Application tags help identify software packages or types of licenses. User tags highlight groups of users such as faculty, student grade level, or accessibility needs.

The following is a list of common questions that you can answer with tags.

Questions about Stations

  • Which OS, Mac vs. PC is being used more?
  • Do stations with accessible software get used for other purposes?
  • Can we get rid of old computers?
  • Are the new stand up kiosks getting used?
  • Are there enough wheelchair accessible stations on campus?
  • Which computers needs to be replaced first?
  • Do I have enough computers in my computer labs?
  • Do I have too many computers in my labs?
  • How many laptops vs. desktops are on campus?
  • How long has a computer been turned on for?
  • How many computers go unused every day?
  • Which computers need updates?
  • Do we need additional computer labs?
  • Can we close computer labs without sacrificing service levels?
  • Should we adjust our open lab hours?
  • Should we adjust our lab staffing hours?
  • Are resources and student usage mismatched? (Do students even know where our best computers are?)
  • What are the busy times in certain labs?
  • What are the busiest times during the semester? (Registration, Finals)
  • Does our refresh cycle make sense based on our usage?
  • Can we change our current lab schedules to offer more classes or more open lab time?
  • Which locations in a lab are used more? (close to the door, back of the lab, middle of the lab)
  • How do I track usage of accessibility resources? (OCR readers, magnifiers, different input devices, cubicle/open table)
  • Do students have a preference when it comes to thin client vs. desktop?
  • Are staff using the provided laptops or desktops, or bringing their own computers?

Questions about Applications

  • How many software licenses do I really need?
  • Should we get a site license or seat licenses?
  • Which machines do students use to launch a particular application?
  • Which applications go unused all semester?
  • Do students open applications, and then not use them?
  • When do students use certain applications most?
  • Is the citation software that the university invested in being used?
  • Where can we save image space?
  • What is the launch vs. focus time of applications?
  • How often are instructors using online applications for study guides or online quizzes and projects?  
  • Would instructors like to see the level of usage for resources they recommend in class?  (They can submit a url and get a report of how many times it was accessed on campus.)
  • Are application usage patterns based on semester cycle? (Is Microsoft Office used more at the end of the semester while Youtube is used more in the middle of the semester?)
  • Are school computers used for nonessential web applications like Youtube and Facebook?
  • Are students using free web apps for the same purpose as paid applications? (ie: using GIMP when we’re paying for Photoshop)
  • Are students using the software that the professors requested?
  • We have 8 applications that do the same thing, are all 8 being used?
  • Where are specialty applications installed?
  • How can we use application tracking to streamline our support time?

Questions about Users

When identifying users, it is important to know that LabStats does not track any personal or private information about the user, it only tracks login name. There is an option to obfuscate user identity further by replacing login name with an anonymized username.

  • Do Freshman use computer labs more than Seniors?
  • Are professors using the software they requested during class?
  • How are students with disabilities using accessible hardware and software?
  • Are students without disabilities using accessible computers, blocking access for those who need it most?
  • How are ESL, Architecture or Spanish Speaking students using technology on campus?
  • Who uses the most expensive software programs?
  • How long do students generally stay on a computer for?
  • How often do students use computers on campus?
  • Who is using computers for testing purposes? How many of them are students with disabilities?
  • Are past software requests justified by use?
  • How are student athletes using resources?
  • How are scholarship students using resources?
  • How do you separate usage of public access (shared) login use vs student (SSO) access?
  • How much crossover is there for students to use computer labs in a department other than the one where they study? (i.e. sciences students using a lab in the business building)
  • How many students from a specific demographic do you have that have never logged onto the system? 

What questions do you have about your university computer labs? If you’ve never tried LabStats and want to see how it works, schedule a walkthrough. If you already have LabStats and would like to see how you can set up tags to answer your computer lab questions, schedule a tutorial.

Fan Favorite Feature: Tags

If there was a fan-favorite feature in LabStats, it would be tags.

Tags allow you to customize LabStats to fit your environment and highlight what matters most to you. With tags, you can narrow search results, get more detailed reports and track just about anything.

A “tag” is a simple way to identify an item or group of items in LabStats. This allows you to organize data and highlight specific items in reports. You can assign tags to stations, applications and users (with an option to anonymize identity).

For instance, say a school has 40 wheelchair accessible stations that are spread across 10 computer labs on campus. The Office of Accessibility is requesting  five additional wheelchair accessible stations. The lab manager needs to verify if additional stations are really needed, and if so, determine where they should be installed.

With tags a lab manager could label the existing wheelchair accessible stations to distinguish them from non-accessible stations for the purpose of usage tracking and data organization. By tagging current wheelchair accessible stations with “Accessible” (or any chosen word) the lab manager can see usage data for this group of computers, regardless of whether they’re located in the same physical space or scattered across campus. He can see the overall percent of use, busiest and least busy times, and labs that include accessible stations. With this data in hand, the lab manager can strategically install additional stations, or recommend that resources be used for other needs.

Stations

Station tags allow you to identify computers with similar traits. Rather than sorting through usage data for all the computers on campus, you can tag a group of computers to focus reports on what matters most to you.

tag examples
Examples of tags

Examples of questions you can answer with station tags:

  • Which computers need to be refreshed next?
  • We have the budget for new computers, should we get desktops, laptops or standing kiosks?
  • Are staff using university computers or bringing their own laptops?
  • How do different colleges or departments use computer labs?
  • Are accessibility resources being used more or less than we anticipated?

Ideas for station tags:

  • Install timeframe (ie: year or semester depending on refresh schedule)
  • Hardware type (ie: desktop, laptop, standing kiosk)
  • Staff or faculty computers
  • Department (ie: biology, English, etc.)
  • Accessibility (ie: OCR reader, magnifier, open table, input devices)
Related: Quickstart: Tags

Applications

Chances are, you have a mix of expensive and free software, site-wide licenses and seat licenses. Focus reports on what’s most useful to your school, like identifying expensive seat license software packages so you know exactly how much to budget for in the coming year. With application tags, you can identify different aspects of software in your environment to make better budgeting decisions moving forward.

Examples of questions you can answer with application tags:

  • Are we paying for more seat licenses than we actually need?
  • Are we fully utilizing expensive software packages?

Ideas for application tags:

  • Site license and seat license
  • Software packages (Microsoft Office, Adobe CC, etc.)

Although tagging is not required to build reports, it can help narrow down results for important decision making.

Users

When identifying users, it is important to know that LabStats does not track any personal or private information about the user, it only tracks login name. There is an option to obfuscate user identity further by replacing login name with an anonymized username.

Tagging users can be super helpful in identifying how groups of students use resources on campus. For instance, do engineering students prefer to walk across campus to use computers in the library, or would they rather use smaller study spaces in the engineering lab? Knowing who is using technology on campus can help you plan lab expansions, know where to install new technology and optimize the resources you already have.

Examples of questions you can answer with user tags:

  • Do freshman use campus resources more or less than seniors?
  • Do business majors use computer labs?
  • What data can we use to support a grant application?

Ideas for user tags:

  • Grade level
  • College or major
  • Demographics for grants

You can also track user demographics to apply for grants, support funding requests or expand resources for the students in your university who need it most.

Related: How Does LabStats Protect Data

How are schools using tags?

The University of Utah uses station tags to identify computers that have scanners, 3D printers and VR equipment attached. They track how often those computers are used to ensure their investment in the additional equipment is justified.

The College of William and Mary uses application tags to track software that they hope to cut out of the following year’s budget. This “cutting” tag allows them to quickly pull a report at the end of the year to see if the suspected software was actually used, and if it’s worth cutting or keeping.

Tagging is not a feature that is necessary to build reports, but it is a powerful tool that can help get you get better results and focus on what matters most to your school.

Get a Bird’s Eye View with Software Inventory

LabStats tracks application usage in university computer labs. It’s designed to be lightweight with a tiny footprint, so it only tracks the applications you care about.

Most universities use LabStats to track expensive and specialty software licenses to ensure they’re only paying for what students actually use. They also track usage patterns to inform budget, installation and refresh decisions throughout the year.

But beyond usage data, it’s helpful to know what other software is running in your environment. Seeing the complete picture can help you identify unauthorized or vulnerable software. It can also help you verify license compliance, reduce purchasing costs and ensure that the right software is installed in the right places.

This is where the Software Inventory feature comes into play, which gives you insight into all the other applications in your environment.

For example, sometimes there is software in a computer lab that shouldn’t be there. The software could:

  • Have a vulnerability
  • Be unauthorized
  • Be inappropriate for a university computer
  • Be mismatched according to lab location and student use (engineering software in a computer lab for the Liberal Arts college)

By using Software Inventory in LabStats, you can:

  • See a list of all the software in your environment
  • See where each application is installed, down to the individual station
  • Identify unapproved or vulnerable software (so you can then remove it)
  • Verify licensing compliance to remediate issues
  • Identify unused licenses to reduce purchasing costs
  • Ensure appropriate software and correct versions are installed

With support for both Windows and macOS, you’ll have a complete picture of your environment. It’s easy to manage, sort and search through the data so you can get a bird’s eye view or dive deep to investigate specific applications in detail.

Once you notice a trend or change to be made, it’s easy to use the data to take action. You can invite a new user to view the reports or export your findings in multiple formats to support budget requests or ease collaboration between departments.  

Application Manager

Application Manager

The Application Manager is your bird’s eye view. You can see all the applications that were discovered in your environment, along with the vendor, number of versions and install count for each application.

Installed Stations

Installed Versions and Station Details

You can then dive deeper into each application to see the specific stations where each version is installed. You  can also pull up a station record to see a list of installed applications on just one computer. This is helpful when you want to check to see that a mass update was installed properly, or when you want to check in on often overlooked computers. Podium computers, information kiosks and computers paired with specific tech like 3D printers or lab equipment often have very specific software needs, so checking in regularly can prevent issues in the long run.

Once you’ve attained a clear view of your environment and tracked down any issues, you can focus on usage tracking for the applications that matter most to you.

Related: How do I view an inventory of all my software?

Want to see for yourself? Schedule a walkthrough.


Lab Management Software vs. Lab Monitoring Software

The terms ‘management’ and ‘monitoring’ often get thrown around interchangeably, but when it comes to software for university computer labs, there’s a distinct difference.

  • Computer Lab Monitoring Software automatically tracks what is happening in a computer lab, and reports back to the administrator.
  • Computer Lab Management Software enables an administrator to perform tasks and security measures remotely, and combines manual and automated processes to track operations.

In short, lab management software performs action, while monitoring software tracks action.

Lab Monitoring Software

  • Tracks hardware usage
  • Tracks software usage
  • Tracks user activity
  • Customizable- segment and track specific types of technology or user traits
  • Organizes data into meaningful reports
  • Share reports with team and administration
  • Empowers decision making and backs up budget requests

Lab Management Software

  • Connects computers through a single command machine
  • Make direct changes on any computer
  • Install or remove software
  • Reset machine to default settings
  • Start up or shut down computers
  • Control user access

What does computer lab monitoring software do?

Computer lab monitoring software does 3 things: tracks hardware usage (computers), tracks software usage (applications), and tracks user activity (people).

pc computer lab

Tracking Hardware Usage

See when, where and how long each station is used.

  • Compare operating systems such as Mac vs. PC usage
  • See how computer specifications affect usage (such as RAM, CPU, and graphics cards)
  • See how often accessibility resources such as OCR readers are used
  • Spot unused computers, and relocate or remove them
  • Identify where there are too many or too few computers
  • See when labs are used the most and least during the semester
  • Easily track and plan refresh cycles
  • Schedule lab hours and staff around lab activity
  • Compare thin client vs. desktop usage
software on computer

Tracking Software Usage

See when, where and how long each software application is used.

  • Identify unused applications to reduce spending
  • Purchase the right number of licenses
  • Compare free software and paid software usage
  • Streamline software image by eliminating similar programs
  • Analyze launch and focus time of expensive software
  • Verify usage of software requests by  faculty
hand pointing to computer

Tracking User Activity

See who is using hardware and software, with the option to group or anonymize identities.

  • Compare lab usage by academic group (freshman vs. seniors)
  • See who is using accessible resources to ensure proper availability
  • See how students in different majors use resources
  • Who is using computers for testing purposes
  • See if scholarship students need more resources
  • Compare public access and student access
  • Identify demographics that never use campus resources

How to use management and monitoring software together

Think of monitoring software as a map and management software as a car. The map shows you where you need to go, and the car actually gets you there.

map and car

Consider this example: students complain to a lab manager that there are not enough computers with Adobe Creative Cloud. The lab manager knows that Adobe is installed in two locations on campus. There are 10 licenses in the library and 60 licenses in the art lab.

Using a computer lab monitoring software, the lab manager can see that all 10 licenses are used regularly in the library, but only a small fraction of the licenses are used in the art lab. He can also see that the licenses in the library are used most between the hours of 6pm and 10pm, when the art lab is closed.

The lab manager decides to move 20 licenses from the art lab to the library, to ensure the software is available in the place and time where students need it most. He uses a computer lab management software to remotely uninstall the software from the art lab and install it in the library.

Once the move is complete, the lab manager continues to use the monitoring software to track usage and proactively balance software licenses with student needs.

RELATED: Texas Christian University used computer lab monitoring software to manage licenses across 1,400 computers in over 100 labs. 
Read the case study.

What to look for when choosing a lab monitoring software

Computer lab monitoring software is all about collecting and using data to make decisions, so it doesn’t just have to be accurate, it has to be meaningful.

Accurate data should take into account university and lab schedules, such as holidays and weekends. Software tracking needs to be able to separate active windows from inactive windows, and filter out default background applications. Data collection must also be compliant with university and government regulations and privacy policies.

For the data to be meaningful, it has to be easy to access and understand. A computer lab monitoring software needs to be able to take all the relevant data and turn it into easy to read reports so lab managers can use it to inform budget decisions and resource allocation. These reports should also be easy to share with administration and other decision makers across the university.

RELATED: Learn more about gathering usage data at universities with 5 Non-negotiables When Collecting Data.
LabStats Computer Lab Monitoring Software

What is LabStats

LabStats is a computer lab monitoring software, designed to help university IT professionals understand how their computer labs are used. Hardware, software and user data is tracked and then translated into easy to read reports. With LabStats data in hand, IT managers can maximize their budgets, optimize resources and improve the student experience.

Both computer lab management software and monitoring software are essential tools for university IT departments. With monitoring software, lab managers can track usage and spot trends to make informed decisions, and then implement changes with management software.

To learn more about LabStats computer lab monitoring software, schedule a walkthrough.

How the University of Texas El Paso Uses LabStats

Are you considering opening new labs or adding software, but dealing with a limited budget? Do you struggle to manage multiple labs across campus or keep administration informed? You’re not the only one.

We recently spent time with Lizette Gameros, the Director of Support Services at the University of Texas El Paso (UTEP). The challenges Lizette was facing are all too common. She shared what her university was dealing with, and what they did to resolve the issues.

UTEP has 18,000 full time students and provides access to 1,400 computers. The computers are distributed across 40 labs around campus. Lizette and her staff manage the 3 main labs directly, while the remaining labs are managed by departments or independently. The budget for support, software and equipment come from student fees.

Lizette was facing a wide range of challenges.

Challenges:

  • Decentralized management
  • Data-driven boss
  • Opening new labs and what to install
  • Restrictive budgets
  • Managing expensive software with fluctuating licensing

To combat these challenges, Lizette started tracking computer usage with LabStats.

Decentralized management

UTEP has a total of 40 computer labs on campus. Lizette manages the 3 main labs, but collaborating with the other 37 labs (some led departmentally) was a challenge. To get everyone on the same page, Lizette started basing budget decisions on usage data from LabStats. If any lab managers requested upgrades or additional resources, they would have to back it up with usage data. This improved collaboration across the 40 different computer labs, and ensured that money spent was actually used.

Dealing with a data-driven boss

Lizette’s boss was very data-driven and constantly requested more information. She and her staff spent a lot of time and effort gathering and presenting data. They developed an in-house solution in attempts to streamline the process, but there were a lot of discrepancies in the data and other lab managers that reported to Lizette weren’t able to replicate their results. Once Lizette got LabStats, she simply asked her lab managers to install the client and check in on their data to ensure accuracy. Lizette and her team were able to quickly pull reports, export and share them with her boss, to satisfy all requests for data.

Restrictive budget

Lizette was also dealing with a restrictive budget and trying to make the best of it. When two labs needed computer replacements based on age, they couldn’t afford to refresh both labs and had to decide who would get the funds. Lizette ran LabStats reports to determine which computers were used most often and served the most students. Based on usage and student demand, Lizette was able to focus upgrades on the lab that needed it most.

Managing expensive software with fluctuating licensing

Adobe’s fluctuating licensing posed a challenge to Lizette. She wanted to provide the expensive, yet necessary Creative Cloud to as many students as possible, but the unpredictable pricing was difficult to forecast in the budget. To determine where the money would be best spent, Lizette ran a LabStats report that showed usage of Adobe CC in her largest lab with 300 computers. She was able to determine that she could reduce the subscription to 10 licenses, without sacrificing student satisfaction.

Opening new labs and deciding what to install

While Lizette was planning to open new labs, there were conflicting opinions about installing stand-up kiosks. Administration questioned the comfort of the kiosks, and whether they would actually get used. So Lizette used LabStats to run a report of another lab that had stand-up kiosks, and showed that they were the most highly used equipment in the lab. With the new data in hand, Lizette was able to justify her decision to administration, and move forward with installing the kiosks.

Lizette used LabStats to improve communication, optimize a limited budget and justify decisions to leadership. If you’re facing similar challenges or looking to improve your university computer labs, schedule a walkthrough.

Watch the full webinar: