A JISC Institutional Innovation Project

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iBorrow wins Award for Excellence

Posted by Wayne Barry on February 22, 2010

Press release – Canterbury Christ Church University wins Award for Excellence

The annual UCISA Higher Education Award for Excellence, sponsored by Eduserv, has been won this year by Canterbury Christ Church University. The Award seeks to recognise and highlight levels of excellence and best practice that currently exist and are demonstrated by UCISA members within the UK higher and further education sectors.

Canterbury Christ Church’s submission focused on the development of the iBorrow scheme. The aim of the project was to introduce a self service laptop loan scheme to a new £35M library and student services centre. Once the loan service had been introduced, the project looked to collect a range of empirical data using wireless technology to determine how students were engaging with different learning spaces and technology. The data will then be used to inform future learning space design and developments.

 On hearing of the University’s success, Dr Keith Gwilym, Pro-Vice Chancellor (Learning & Quality) commented:

Canterbury Christ Church University is delighted to have won this year’s UCISA Award for Excellence. The iBorrow project has been a great success for the University and winning this award is a reflection of the innovation and hard work put in by the project team.

Christine Sexton, Chair of UCISA, who also chaired the judging panel, added:

the project clearly meets a business need by providing access to laptop technology to a university population where laptop ownership is not common.

Stephen Butcher, Chief Executive of sponsors Eduserv, commented:

the consideration of staff time as an important cost to be addressed helped make the case for a project that is already realising benefits.

The entry from Queen Margaret University, which focused on the implementation of a fully integrated student, visitor and staff smartcard for use across the institution, was highly commended.

Christine Sexton concluded:

The Award once again attracted high quality submissions in a variety of areas which highlights the top quality innovative work that our members undertake in their institutions”.


UCISA, the Universities and Colleges Information Systems Association, is the key membership organisation representing those responsible for delivering information systems and technology services in universities, colleges and related institutions. One of UCISA’s fundamental aims is to identify and disseminate best practice in the promotion and use of information systems, services and technologies in UK Higher and Further Education. The awards given by UCISA represent one strand of this activity.

Visit www.ucisa.ac.uk or contact Anna Mathews, Assistant Executive Secretary, UCISA, University of Oxford, 13 Banbury Road, Oxford, OX2 6NN, tel. 01865 283425, email execsec@ucisa.ac.uk

Eduserv is dedicated to developing and delivering technology services for education and the public sector. As a not-for-profit organisation and registered charity, we fulfil our mission by providing services for the public benefit.

Visit www.eduserv.org.uk or contact Andrew Tavener at Eduserv, Royal Mead, Railway Place, Bath, BA1 1SR, tel: 01225 474300, email: andrew.tavener@eduserv.org.uk

For information about Canterbury Christ Church University, see http://www.canterbury.ac.uk or contact  Lucy Marsden, Corporate Communications Assistant, Department of Marketing, Canterbury Christ Church University, Rochester House, St. Georges Place, Canterbury, CT1 1UT, tel: 01227 782826, email: lucy.marsden@canterbury.ac.uk


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Learning Spaces and Technology: The iBorrow Project Conference

Posted by Wayne Barry on February 4, 2010


Learning Spaces and Technology: the iBorrow project

Date: Thursday 25th March 2010

Time: 11.00am – 4.30pm

Location: Canterbury Christ Church University, Augustine House, Rhodaus Town, Canterbury, Kent, CT1 2YA

To view the conference programme, please click here

To book your place, please click here

To view the conference flyer, please click here


The conference will look at the lessons and insights gained from the iBorrow Project. This partly JISC-funded provides, within the new library and student services centre, 200 thin-client netbook devices available “as easily as picking a book from a shelf”.

Desktop virtualisation deployed across a wireless network within the large-scale learning space now provides rich management data supporting an enhanced understanding on how students, academic and support staff are reacting to the way that the new resources have been configured.

Who should attend?

The conference will be of interest to anyone involved in planning new libraries, learning centres or learning spaces; senior managers, computing staff, library and information specialists. However, it will also be of interest to academics and other professionals working in learning, information and communications technologies, e.g. student services managers; educational developers; and learning technologists.

Why attend?

  • Tour  Augustine House and talk to staff about the building and the iBorrow project
  • See a large-scale exemplar of the use of thin-client technology in student netbook provision
  • Hear about the research that is contributing to our understanding of how students use virtual and electronic resources within flexible learning spaces
  • Choose an in-depth workshop on a specific dimension of the project
  • Understand how location-awareness can provide temporal and spatial data to support intelligent building management and pedagogic research

About Augustine House

Augustine House is Canterbury Christ Church University’s new ‘state of the art’ library and student support centre that has been developed to meet the needs of the University’s diverse student body at the beginning of the 21st century. Click here to find out more about Augustine House.


There is no cost for delegates and attendees.


If you are planning to stay overnight, you might like to contact the following hotels:


Download our A4 map of Canterbury as it will contain information about where to park and details of where the nearest train and bus stations are.

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iBorrow Assembly

Posted by Wayne Barry on December 18, 2009

iBorrow Assembly 11-12-2009On 11th December, 2009, a delegation from the University of Sheffield (weCAMP Project) and Buckinghamshire New University (SMART Project) visited Canterbury Christ Church University to take part in a JISC sponsored assembly with the iBorrow Project team. Also in attendance was Adrian Wheal (the project’s Technical Consultant) and Stephen Steadman (the project’s external Evaluator).

The delegation were treated to a tour of Augustine House (AH) and were able to see, first hand, how the iBorrow netbooks were being used by the students (though as this was the last day of term, the building was not as busy as usual). We had brief presentations and reports from Geoff Kimmons (iBorrow netbooks and Virtualisation) and Chris French (WiFi Access). This went extremely well and was very well received by the delegates. Phil Poole and Wayne Barry gave reports on how the pedagogic research was going and the assembly were treated to images taken from the old Library to compare and contrast with AH.

After lunch, the assembly had a discussion on the Benefits Realisation programme where the University of Sheffield are putting in a £15,000 bid (with Christ Church and Bucks New as partners) to do some modelling using floor plans taken from Augustine House that will allow the iBorrow team to overlay the tracking data over it so that they can develop a more richer picture on how space is being used by students over time.

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iBorrow Pedagogic Research Report

Posted by Wayne Barry on December 18, 2009

Dr Lynne Graham-Matheson, of the Pedagogic Research team, has written a brief report on the different research activities that have taken place in the (old) library and the new facilities at Augustine House (AH).

Before AH opened (September 2009), we undertook research in the (old) library with a view to establishing a baseline of information about library use which could be compared with work in the new building. This took place between April and July 2009.  The research was opportunistic – resources were limited and so surveys and observations had to be carried out when researchers (members of staff and student volunteers) were available. The timing was dictated by the removal of some staff from the (old) library building and the closure of the library as part of the building development work.

 Data were gathered through:

  • observations of students using the (old) library
  • a student survey
  • an online staff survey (academic staff)
  • interviews with key AH staff
  • observations of student using AH before the iBorrow netbooks became available

These various activities were intended only to provide a benchmark to use as a comparison with the iBorrow data and we did not expect to draw any firm conclusions. A particularly interesting finding was the way in which many staff appeared not to have thought about the impact that AH could have on their teaching, except perhaps in a negative way, focusing on the distance between main campus and AH, which they saw as limiting their opportunities to, for example, set tasks whereby students needed to find information in the library and report back.

With the iBorrow tracking data going live in October 2009, this will enable us to understand how learning spaces are being used by students through the deployment of different data capturing methods:

  • location tracking data
  • direct observation and interviews with students in AH
  • “vox pop” Facebook group on iBorrow
  • pedagogic scenarios (looking at the relationship between staff – student – space)

Once AH opened, it quickly became apparent that some staff were turning this to their advantage, planning their teaching so they could organise a visit to AH for several hours, perhaps including lunch, and organising research activities, discussion groups and tutorials. A few examples:

  • PGCE students are directed to use the curriculum resources area for a set task. While working they take time to have lunch and to meet with tutors about their learning journals
  • Students taking the same course at Broadstairs and Chatham meet for a study day with collaborative tasks at AH
  • The tutor assigns students a task, and sits and works in the coffee shop, so is available for any students who need help
  • First year students are given an assignment task, taken to AH to find books and resources and begin to plan their assignment – the tutor is on hand to help if needed
  • Individual tutorials can take place while students are working on individual or group tasks – tutor can be in the coffee shop working, no ‘dead’ time waiting for students to arrive (although probably not an appropriate space to deal with difficult issues)
  • Taking a group of part-time or mature students to work in AH, have coffee together etc can help them to bond as a group and feel part of the university.
  • Students spend the day working in AH to prepare a group presentation using the whiteboards, video etc and then present to the other groups at the end of the day.
  • Students in parallel teaching groups are set a collaborative task to work on in groups in AH. Tutors determine the groups so that the students have the opportunity to work with fellow students they have not met before.

With the help of Prof Betty Collis, we have developed a pro forma, for staff to record their teaching activities. These will be analysed into a set of ‘scenarios’, which can be used for staff development purposes. An example of how this might be done is as follows:

A group of students (Dimension 1c) in nursing are getting ready for an initial practicum experience in a local hospital (Dimension 4c) and need to anticipate issues and problems that they will confront (Dimension 2a). Each student has prepared a list of key problems that he/she expects to have to confront and submitted them in advance to a shared workspace (folder) in the VLE (Dimension 7a). Before their group session they read each others’ lists (Dimension 3a) and come prepared to take the lead on discussing what to do about one of the issues if members of the group confront it in practice (Dimension 5b). The instructor has requested that each group submit a brief report via the VLE about the issues that were discussed (Dimensions 6a and 7a) which she will in turn use as a basis for discussion in the next face-to-face session of the module. The instructor indicated that the students could contact her by phone or chat if they needed help and if she was available she would reply directly (Dimension 7b). The students arrange to meet in a semi-enclosed collaborative area for their discussion (Dimension 8, Zone 4).

As patterns emerge from the data analysis and the observations the gains of cross-referencing and correlating the information from these two modes of data collection will be illustrated for the sector.

Download: Pedagogic Research Report (.pdf)

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iBorrow Wireless Technical Report

Posted by Wayne Barry on December 18, 2009

Chris French, of the Network Technical team, has written a technical report that outlines the issues and difficulties encouuntered during the iBorrow project and how they went about resolving them. The Network Technical team were responsible for the wireless connectivity and real time location systems for device tracking and data capture.

Download: Wireless Technical Report (.pdf)

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iBorrow Client Technical Report

Posted by Wayne Barry on December 18, 2009

Geoff Kimmons, of the Client Technical team, has written a technical report that outlines the issues and difficulties encouuntered during the iBorrow project and how they went about resolving them. The Client Technical team were responsible for the netbook build, terminal services configuration and the development and configuration of the virtualisation (App-V) services.

Download: Client Technical Report (.pdf)

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iBorrow in action

Posted by Wayne Barry on December 18, 2009

Below are some images of the iBorrow netbooks in action. To see more images of the iBorrow netbooks, please visit this Flickr site.

The iBorrow netbook

iBorrow netbook - Group Study Area

iBorrow netbook at work

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Augustine House

Posted by Wayne Barry on December 18, 2009

Augustine HouseAugustine House, Canterbury Christ Church University’s £35 million state-of-the-art Library and Student Services Centre, opened it’s doors to both student and staff on Monday 28th September, 2009. It represents the biggest building project undertaken by the University since the first campus was built in 1963. Library, learning spaces, staff offices and student services stretches across 4 floors.

Unfortunately, due to some technical issues with the security gates at Augustine House, the 200 iBorrow netbooks were not made available. Student and staff would have to wait until the last week in October 2009 before they were unveiled. It soon became clear that the iBorrow netbooks had exceeded all of our expectations and proved to be immensely popular with students as they provided the flexibility and mobility that a fixed desktop computer could never achieve. The following comment from a student is typical of the feedback that we have been getting:

 “I had my first encounter today and thought it was a brilliant little piece of technology and a really good idea 🙂 I don’t have a laptop/netbook so I found that being able to go anywhere and chill out rather than being tied to a desk was a really good way to work. Thank you!

More images of Augustine House and the iBorrow netbooks in action can be found at this Flickr site.

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The Library Observation Study – An Update

Posted by Wayne Barry on July 1, 2009

We reported that we were planning to observe and photograph students in the existing Library before one of its’ key components, the Integrated Support Services (ISS) Help Desk, was removed from the premises forever to it’s temporary home in the Erasmus block. The study took place between 27 April – 3 May, 2009.

The library survey is now complete and had 275 responses. Unfortunately, the OMR scanner that we are using went down, so we are not able to provide a full report just yet. However, the project researcher was able to provide a brief report was.  The survey showed that about 50% of the students currently bring their own laptops (which was higher than we expected) and that 77% of the students would borrow an iBorrow netbook, only 2 of them said that they wouldn’t use a netbook as they felt that they would be blamed if there was any damage done to the netbook.

This all looks very encouraging and we hope to have a full report in the very near future.

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weCAMP Assembly

Posted by Wayne Barry on July 1, 2009

On 29th May, 2009, a delegation from Canterbury Christ Church University visited the University of Sheffield to take part in a JISC sponsored assembly with the weCAMP Project team.

The assembly explored the potential for collaboration between the two projects. weCAMP providing the visual platform upon which the iBorrow location tracking data could be displayed to facilitate the research and dissemination of  project findings. The weCAMP team demonstrated progress with the uCampus platform. The iBorrow team were able to explore how data could usefully be displayed in the models. Coloured zones and ‘clouds’ or individual laptops were discussed as was the usability of 3D Models in this context. Although no firm decisions could be made without experimentation the consensus was that 2D+ projections with transparent floors would be a possible starting point. If the user could pick from a range of fixed views and associate these with subsets of the data available from a menu this was most likely to be user friendly. It was highly unlikely that the level of expertise to create new views, fly-throughs or edit data would be available outside of specifically trained personnel within an institution. CCCU/iBorrow offers an opportunity for a full scale demonstration of the uCampus system informing research and delivering a rich source of information which can inform institutional decision making.

The weCAMP demonstration also highlighted the potential for adding “user-generated” data to the model. Students or staff could add text, pictures and podcasts thus potentially creating an “experience database” which could be explored by others across the web. The potential of this was felt to be exciting in terms of the iBorrow pedagogic research strand which would add to what the sector knows about large scale learning spaces and dissemination to the sector.

The teams agreed that there was enormous potential for the respective projects to benefit from a close association.

Agreed actions:

  • weCAMP  to generate a guide for CCCU to develop a digital model that can be uploaded into uCampus.
  • Evaluation this will assist weCAMP  in its dissemination.
  • iBorrow will employ a designer to generate the digital model asap
  • A further assembly was agreed for November to be held in Canterbury with some sector stakeholders invited too, e.g. SCONUL, AUDE.
  • Explore joint bid to JISC for benefits realisation funding

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