The University of Chicago empowers students and faculty with flexible space booking

The University of Chicago empowers students and faculty with flexible space booking

With seven media editing suites being used around the clock by a few hundred faculty and staff at the University of Chicago, it was crucial that scheduling was seamless, flexible, and updated in real-time. David Wolf, Senior Director of Arts Technology at the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts at the University of Chicago, is in charge of ensuring the media production suites are set up for optimal use from students and faculty. This, however, proved challenging since the booking experience at UChicago occurred mostly on a top-down basis -- with the registrar getting the first stab at campus resources -- and because booking the suites was a very manual process.

David tried using Excel spreadsheets, email requests, and even a hotline to book the suites but none of those manual methods supported ad-hoc booking or protected against abandoned or double-booked reservations. Students would often book a production suite and then not show up to their reservation. This meant other students were deprived of valuable resources when it looked like the suites were booked in the legacy scheduling system, despite being empty. After fielding complaints from students about not being able to get final projects done because of unavailable resources, David decided he needed a solution that would empower students and faculty to get the most out of the editing suites.

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"I was looking for something that could empower our users to just have an app to check availability and book the production suites. Robin has basically solved all those problems for us. People love the app. We always tell people to book their time in Robin."
David Wolf | Senior Director of Arts Technology

Senior Director of Arts Technology


Eventually, the manual processes used to book editing suites became unsustainable. David began searching for space scheduling software to ease the day-to-day inconvenience and discovered Robin.

Now, Kindle Fire tablets outfitted with Robin software are outside of each production suite to ensure a seamless scheduling experience. As part of the mandatory orientation to use the Media Center, students and faculty are introduced to Robin and encouraged to download the app on their phones to make finding and booking available suites an easy process. Below each tablet, David hung up signs with a link to download the Robin app and instructions for how to book a suite easily on a mobile phone to help ensure ease of use.

With Robin, double booking is a thing of the past and with abandoned meeting protection, if someone doesn’t check into their reservation within 15 minutes, it’s released to be used by someone else on an ad-hoc basis. David now has an organized way to automate his university's the booking process so students and staff alike get the best possible usage out of the editing suites.

David also uses the data he gathers from Robin in conjunction with a few other data sources to help plan for the future of the Media Center. "Having the ability to integrate space usage and equipment usage with other data I have available is so important," David said.

From the data he collects, David can prove how the media center editing suites are being used and from that can determine his budget for the year.

"Robin puts the students in control and gives university leadership important insights."

A look into the future

Looking forward, David hopes to add a status board, a large TV display of the floor plan map, to help increase transparency and intuitive wayfinding when entering the Media Center. This map view will display which suites are available and which are currently in use at a glance. For students and faculty, this real-time information, also available in the mobile app, will make it easy to book rooms on an ad-hoc basis or plan on when to fit an editing session into their busy schedule. For David, the status board will make it easy to show the space to prospective students and their families when giving tours of the facility.

"As someone in technology leadership, it’s important to use tools like digital signage for their highest order purpose so people feel good about the investment they are making in the space. The more information, the better."


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