IT Launches New Self-Checkout Laptop Kiosk
By Iker Pelcastre and Indira Zaldivar, The Dateline
On Sept. 20, IT “soft launched” a new self-service kiosk for enrolled UHD students to borrow a laptop for the day.
The self-checkout laptop kiosk is located in the W. I. Dykes Library (fifth floor of the One Main Building) in Lounge N480 and holds up to 12 laptops for service. Currently enrolled UHD students can check out one laptop at a time from the self-service kiosk with a valid student ID. Laptops will be available from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. and must be checked in the same day they were borrowed.
“For testing purposes, we’re going to try to [allow checkout until] 11 p.m. and see how it goes. If we get more demand, we may extend it,” said Labs and IT Services Assistant Director Hitesh Patel.
After consenting to agreements displayed on the kiosk’s screen, within minutes, a laptop is unlocked and ready to be borrowed by students. A loan receipt is emailed to students upon possession of the laptop. This receipt informs the student of the due date and locker number so that they know where and when to return the laptop. When returning the laptop, IT emphasized that students should remember to plug the laptop into the correct charger to ensure that the laptops are charged for future users. Plugging the laptop in is also a requirement for a return receipt. Students who successfully return the laptop will receive a return receipt as confirmation.
The self-service laptop checkout kiosk was made as an alternative to the assisted, in-person checkout, which involved a student worker manually verifying the student ID number provided, and also having users manually signing an agreement.
One of the benefits of the self-service kiosk is that it offers an additional hour of service compared to the in-person checkout system.
“Currently, the manual process takes time, this [self-checkout kiosk] is all built in,” Patel said. “As we get into the new technology era, everything is-on demand and self-checkout. The less user intervention the better.”
The custom-made self-checkout kiosk was ordered last fall. While IT waited for the unit to arrive from the U.K., they surveyed the most trafficked areas of the college and determined that the library lounge was the best place for the kiosk, followed by the student lounge on the second floor of OMB.
Another reason why the library lounge was chosen for the soft launch is because the library “gets a lot of requests.” According to data from IT, 12 laptops are more than enough based on the current demand, which falls in the range of five to eight assisted checkouts a day. A contrast with the self-service laptop kiosk is that it does not provide users with a carrying bag or laptop charger while the assisted checkout does.
“If they run out of battery, they can return and check out another one,” Patel advised. IT encourages those students who use the self-service kiosk to comment on their experience by filling out their online survey. The soft launch will last about two weeks, and IT will evaluate the data collected. This includes automated reports and user comments that will inform future decisions regarding the laptop self-service kiosk on campus.
“We want to collect data and statistics and see if we encounter a problem,” Patel said. “We think students are going to take advantage. Our target is to add more.”
The University of Houston-Downtown (UHD) is the second-largest university in Houston and has served the educational needs of the nation’s fourth-largest city since 1974. As one of four distinct public universities in the University of Houston System, UHD is a comprehensive, four-year university led by President Loren J. Blanchard. Annually, UHD educates approximately 14,000 students, boasts more than 66,000 alumni, and offers 45 bachelor’s degrees, 12 master’s degrees, and 19 online programs within four colleges: Marilyn Davies College of Business, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, College of Public Service, and College of Sciences and Technology. UHD has one of the lowest tuition rates in Texas.
U.S. News and World Report ranked UHD among the nation’s Best Online Bachelor’s Programs for Applied Administration and Best Online Master’s Programs in Criminal Justice, as well as a Top Performer in Social Mobility. The Wall Street Journal/College Pulse ranked UHD one of the best colleges in the U.S. for its 2024 rankings, with notable distinctions: No. 1 for diversity (tied) and No. 3 for student experience. The University is designated as a Hispanic-Serving Institution, a Minority-Serving Institution, and a Military Friendly School. For more information on the University of Houston-Downtown, visit uhd.edu.