The iBorrow project makes grabbing a computer as easy as borrowing a book.
The book Learning, space and technology: exploring the concept is now available to download.
As part of Canterbury Christ Church University's (CCCU) new state-of-the-art Augustine House library and student services centre, there are now 200 iBorrow netbooks provided for free use within the building.
The iBorrow Project was funded by JISC and CCCU as part of the Institutional Innovation Programme (IIP). We wanted a loan system that was entirely self-service – so that borrowing a laptop to use within the building was no more complicated than borrowing a book. This meant that the laptops had to be robust and the system and software locked down so that they would always work. We used inexpensive Asus EEE netbooks to deliver a fully virtualised thin-client environment. You can read about how it was done in the project final report.
The iBorrow notebooks use WiFi with location tracking. As well as contributing to security, this provides a rich source of data that can be mined to give a valuable insight into the way in which students use learning spaces.
More details can be found in our technical
Prof. Betty Collis, a consultant to the project, provides an introduction to the research opportunities in this video and paper, and early results are summarised in the research reports. We also worked closely with the weCAMP project at Sheffield University, (also funded under JISC IIP), which provided our 3D visualisation tools.
Of course, the ultimate test of the project has been the reaction to it from others. In March 2010, we held a conference that was attended by almost 100 staff from over 50 other HE institutions. You can peruse the conference presentations for further information.
You can see the system in action on our
Flickr site and see the student reaction to it in these videos.
Furthermore, you can find out more about the background to the project
or read our
The project was awarded the 2009 UCISA Award for Excellence and has been short-listed for two categories of the Times Higher Education Awards 2010. You can also read our external evaluator's report.
We are keen to assist other institutions who are thinking of using aspects of the iBorrow model in new ways and places. Please use the contact page to get in touch.