Ryerson Library and Archives releases its laptop lending study

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By Erin Brittany Wolf-Bloom

The Ryerson University Library and Archives (RULA) has released the results of 2013 study into its laptop lending program.

The three main themes of the survey questions were why and how students are using the laptop lending program, feedback on the current program, and students interest in a future mobile learning portal.

The RULA laptop-lending program currently has 145 laptops, both PCs and MacBooks, available for lending to the 38,000-student population at Ryerson University, for a maximum four-hour period. The program was initially designed with the Millennial generation, students born in the early 1990s, in mind. However, a new Student Learning Centre (SLC) will open in 2015, which promoted this study of how well the laptop lending program meets the changing needs of the Millennial students.

A large reason that students use the laptop-lending program, is due to the fact that the large commuter student population does not want to have to carry their own laptops to campus. Other reasons include the convenience of connecting a laptop to a projector for in-class presentations and the need to use a specific program of software that is available on the laptops. An important finding for the researchers was that the Millennial generation still prefers laptops over other technological devices, such as tablets, for their academic work.

Some feedback suggestions received about the program were giving the laptops easier access, longer battery life, a longer borrowing time. As well, many students showed an interest in the laptops having more software preloaded, such as Metlab and Adobe Creative Suite. In recent years, Ryerson University has taken steps to move to cloud-based applications, including the introduction of Google Gmail. However, student survey’s suggested that students still preferred using Microsoft Office programs over cloud-based programs for their academic work.

When the survey proposed creating a more customized learning experience through the laptop-lending program, students showed an overwhelming interest. This customized learning experience would re-brand the laptops as an e-learning tool, including easy to access portal links to useful websites for students.

RULA said it plans to take the findings from this survey into strong consideration and implement as many changes as possible to the program from the 2015 opening of the SLC.

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