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February 19, 2015

Studying 2015-style

Boston is really just an overgrown college town, with more than 250,000 students attending more than 50 universities. These students stay in dorms, eat at university cafeterias, attend classes, and relax with a couple beers at the bar. They may even work off those beers while playing indoor soccer with the faculty team. And all on the same campus.

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It sounds like a good prospect, yet something’s wrong. A lot of thought goes into a campus’s facilities, and all the things you need are present, yet why does it seem as though time has stood still at most universities? Why does it take so much time to find the right place to study? It’s not because of money, after all, you pay a lot of money for your education.

To be productive as a student, you need to be able to learn when and where you want. Of course, it doesn’t help if a school is still working with paper registration lists to indicate when you want to use a project space, a quiet working area, or another scarce resource. Or that a student needs to make a phone call to report a problem in their dorm. Or to physically visit the registrar’s office to pay tuition and sign up for classes.

Even more important: these methods are not appropriate to the expectations of the future student. “Old-fashioned” facilities and other frustrations are a threat to the core duty of a college or university. If you weigh this up against the annual expenditure on innovation and IT, then it’s a mystery just how paper registration lists can still exist.

That’s why universities and colleges are looking for tools to help make the availability of study facilities more transparent. For example, online reservations for study spaces. Or claiming a workstation on-site using a touch screen. All you need is a student card for easy identification. You can then book the desired space directly. For instance, you might scan a QR code with an app to book a workstation, to report a fault or to share your (dis)satisfaction about the facilities available. And all that within three seconds.

In addition, the actual usage of the working environment can be measured and controlled by linking sensor technology with an IWMS. This means information about available spaces is always correct and up-to-date. But it remains necessary for those ultimately responsible for university facilities to investigate whether these innovations are actually being used. Do these modernizations actually lead to success, or must we return to the “paper” era?

As far as Planon is concerned, it’s clear. We welcome students warmly to the Unified Communications Era. Sounds good, with a definite air of innovation about it.

Bram Aarntzen
Former Business Consultant Planon Netherlands