In his first post Derrick mentioned that we are looking to install more â€œTouchdownâ€ computers this year so I thought that I would elaborate a little and explain the concept of Touchdown.
From when I first started at Edge Hill the LRC always had a number of computers dedicated to searching the library catalogue. These computers were greatly locked down so that the Internet could only be used on certain Edge Hill pages that were part of the library system. The idea was to provide students with a quick and easy way to find the books they wanted without having to go to the trouble of finding a computer, logging in and waiting for all of their applications to load. These computers proved a really big success for Learning Services and it wasn’t long before we were looking at how we could provide something similar in other areas.
When the Faculty of Education building was under construction IT Services were asked if we could provide â€œcyber cafÃ© styleâ€ computers for the Waters Edge CafÃ©. Working with the library catalogue computers as a basis, my colleague Stephen Timson came up with a way to provide full Internet access via a very cut down browser interface. Students or staff could login and would have immediate fast access to the Internet without all of the background applications associated with a normal computer. While we expected these computers to receive a lot of use we had no idea how popular they would become.
Since then we have installed more and more of these computers around the campus to the point where we have nearly 30. The renovated ground floor of the LRC is probably the biggest success story for this type of computer with 12 installed down there. Itâ€™s nearly impossible to go in there during the academic year and find them not being used.
The name Touchdown comes from the concept of easy to access areas where students can walk in, sit down and use an IT service right away. These areas are designed to encourage social learning and provide a comfortable environment where students can study away from the traditional rows of desks. With use of wireless technology in these areas we can also provide access for students own laptops and increase the flexibility of the learning space.
I’ve always been a big fan of social learning and the prospect of providing more of these spaces around the campus is very exciting. There are a lot of plans to develop these areas and you can bet that where-ever they pop up there are sure to be some Touchdown PC’s following close behind so keep an eye open for any developments.