netloan PC booking and session management

netloan PC booking and
session management solution
at East Riding College
At the beginning of the academic year, East Riding
College deployed netloan to manage approximately
120 computers across the institution’s two LRC sites.
Nathan Cobb, e-Learning Manager, talks about the
reasons for choosing netloan and the experience since
launch for both students and staff.
Located in Yorkshire, East Riding College is a further
and higher education institution with over 1,600
full-time students, and thousands more taking
part-time and higher education courses. The college
was managing its PC sessions using a spreadsheet
to allocate students to library PCs, but this proved
to be a time-consuming system for all involved.
It also caused problems as many students weren’t
aware that there was a system in place that they
needed to follow.
Group bookings for library PCs were commonplace,
but were difficult to manage without having a reliable
booking system in place. PC users sometimes ignored
paper reservation signs, and those midway through
longer PC sessions had to be asked to move and make
way for group bookings. Some students were also
logging on and locking screens while they attended
lectures, preventing others from using PCs for periods
of time. As a result, some students were requesting the
ability to pre-book PC sessions particularly for use at
peak times, and staff could see the need for a
comprehensive session management solution.
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Choosing a new system
Nathan Cobb, e-Learning Manager, explored different
providers of PC booking systems. netloan was
recommended by colleagues on a JISC listserv and
Nathan requested a demonstration to LRC and IT staff
by the lorensbergs account manager. The demo
provided the team with a clear and informative tour of
the netloan system helping East Riding to see how the
system could be implemented in their LRCs and
providing an opportunity to understand the system
requirements and deployment options.
“netloan had the edge in how easily students can
make bookings on their mobiles. We could see that
it would also be helpful to be able to address PC
users by name. netloan makes it easy to quickly
identify all logged on users in the administrative
Nathan Cobb,
e-Learning Manager, East Riding College
The LRC and IT teams felt that the netloan interface and
the way the system is structured stood out from the
competition in terms of accessibility and ease of use.
Particularly, the user interface and ease of making PC
bookings when accessed by a mobile device directed
the team to opt for netloan as the system of choice.
Session management benefits
with netloan
When planning for the netloan implementation, it was
agreed that PC sessions in the LRCs would be
configured to run for a maximum of three hours at a
time, with a minimum 15 minutes break time between
sessions. This would ensure students take regular breaks
from their studies, in keeping with the college’s health
and safety policy.
Staff also liked the ability to monitor PC screens to make
sure that students were on task. Occasionally, staff need
to intervene if PC use is inappropriate. It was felt that the
information that would be made available to them
through netloan would pave the way for more positive
and confident interactions between staff and students,
with PC users’ identities understood and tutors identified
The team was also pleased to note netloan’s messaging
function, which could be used to communicate with
students directly, for example it could be used to inform
students that staff could monitor PC use and this would
encourage students to stay focused on academic work.
Implementing netloan
Installation of netloan went smoothly, with the
lorensbergs engineer providing guidance and ensuring
all went according to plan. Communication was always
very clear on what was required.
Most students have found netloan easy to use, and
staff took the opportunity during the learner induction
period to generate awareness and understanding
around the new system. As a result, students have
taken the new system on board. New session
management restrictions have required some students
to change how they use the LRC facilities and to take
occasional breaks. Students have found that they are
easily able to rebook themselves onto a PC for after a
break if they wish to, and the College’s onsite refectory
and other facilities are there to help them achieve
more productive study time.
“When we’ve sat down and talked to the students
about the reasons for the new system, the vast majority
accepted it and believed it to be fair, liking the idea
that pre-booking was now available”.
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The ability to create and manage group bookings in
netloan has also worked out well.
“It allows us to allocate blocks of PCs, and it enables
us to see where tutors are supposed to be with each
group of students. We like the way you can look and
see which tutor is responsible.”
Further benefits identified include:
• Fair access to PCs - students can prebook and
organise their study schedules, particularly if they
wish to access PCs during peak times
• Students can locate PCs easily due to the ability to
group and name blocks of PCs in the system
• The way each PC clearly displays how long it is
available before the next booked session ensures
students identify and begin working at a PC with
sufficient time available. This avoids students from
being unexpectedly interrupted from their studies to
make way for group bookings or other pre-booked
• Better availability of PCs at all times as users are
prevented from locking the screen for extended
breaks - 15 minutes has been set as the maximum
time before the PC is made available to other users
netloan queuing functionality
During busier periods, netloan’s queuing functionality
also provides students with a further option of securing
a PC. This is a useful feature for those students that
aren’t as organised in booking a PC in advance, as
they are able to join a virtual queue and track their
position, with the system automatically allocating a PC
– usually within a few minutes of joining. The queue
display even identifies each user by name following a
release upgrade as explained below.
“It went absolutely seamlessly and we were done
across the two sites in about 1½ hours, from uploading
what we needed to the server and then deploying that
through netloan’s administration interface. It couldn’t
have been simpler. We were really pleased that there
was such minimal impact.”
The LRC team were particularly keen on two of the
new functionalities within the release. One was an
enhancement to the queuing system which would
display the learner’s name in place of their student ID
number on the queuing screen, making it easier for
students to identify and track their place in the queue.
The other advantage was the new management option
for broken PCs.
“With the upgrade, the PC screen displays that it’s
broken, stopping the user from wasting time
attempting to login,” says Nathan.
New functionality enhancements
The reporting functionality has also proved useful
specifically being able to measure usage as a
proportion of PC availability. The team was pleased to
see that lorensbergs had developed the reporting
further, for help in understanding usage levels for
different times of day. The more granular controls
could then be used to adjust session length should the
LRC staff need to alter access privileges for peak
times. Overall, the reporting and statistics can be used
by staff to monitor the risk of usage reaching 100% of
PC availability in the LRCs.
An upgrade at half term allowed the College to take
advantage of some useful new features in netloan. The
upgrade work turned out to be the easiest process for a
deployed system that the team had ever experienced!
Nathan summarises East Riding’s netloan experience in
saying: “I think it is a good system. And from a
customer service point of view, lorensbergs has been
very responsive.”
For more information contact lorensbergs on +44 1992 415505
email [email protected] visit
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The future with netloan
Deploying netloan has enabled East Riding College to
implement important aspects of their health and safety
policy in the library. It has also allowed them to provide
fair access to PCs at all times and give students the
opportunity to be more organised around planning
productive study time. netloan will continue to allow
LRC staff to achieve more, allowing implementation of
policy to realise their strategic objectives.
“Overall it’s been a happy implementation and I’m
sure there’s more we could get out of netloan. We’ll
learn a little bit more about how we can best use it as
we continue to use the system and do different things.
It’s been a positive experience – the system does what
we purchased it to do, and we’re happy with it.”
lorensbergs offer advice and consultancy over netloan
system requirements, deployment and configuration of
the system. As the LRCs at East Riding College plan
their migration to Windows 8.1 this year, the project
team have been discussing their needs with netloan’s
product manager.
With this advice and netloan’s considered approach to
supporting PC clients on Windows 8.1, Nathan is
confident that the migration will go smoothly and is
already planning staff training around the changes in
the coming months.
Thank you to Nathan Cobb, e-Learning
Manager at East Riding College for
participating in this netloan case study.
To find out more, contact lorensbergs on
01992 415505
email [email protected]
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Reg No. 03878554