Restrictive Practices

Two years ago I wrote a blog post about PAT Testing in relation to students bringing their own devices to college or BYOD.

…sometimes the question of PAT testing student equipment arises from someone within the organisation. It is then decided that students can only bring in their laptops if they have been properly PAT tested or they can bring their devices in, but can not plug them in or in extreme examples students will be banned from bringing in their own devices.

Rather than just believe the hype… I did some of my own research and investigations.

I have read and checked the relevant legislation and I have phoned the HSE to confirm this.

There is NO legal requirement to PAT test student equipment, a formal visual inspection is sufficient under the current legislation.

I was recently at a conference at a university somewhere in England and it took place in a completely new build. The building was less than a year old. As we were talking about bring your own devices there were two things about the building that struck me.

Firstly, in the big lecture theatres there were no power sockets for student devices. Now I am guessing this maybe because they feel that modern devices such as the iPad can last a day without charging, personally I think this was unlikely and was much more likely to be a strategic decision not to allow students to charge their devices. It may have just been a design flaw, or wasn’t even considered.

The second thing that struck me, was a power socket in one of the seminar rooms. There were very few power sockets in the rooms I went into and in this particular room the solitary power socket at the back of the room looked like this…

Despite the advice I did use it!

I did find in one room, the conference table had sockets in it, so maybe all was not lost.

The key question that arises when you are strategically thinking about BYOD is you have to consider lots of different aspects. As well as designing the curriculum and the delivery, you also need to give careful consideration to building design and internal space design too.

2 thoughts on “Restrictive Practices”

  1. Last term I had to physically unscrew one of those ‘handy’ hinged floor-hatches to get at a power socket so that I could run a tutorial demo from my laptop. Curiosity got the better of me so I enquired why the hatch was so disabled, and was surprised by the answer. It was not, as I had imagined, to stop students from charging untested devices. It was to deter cleaning staff with heavy duty cleaning machinery from plugging-in to a circuit that had been configured to cater for a set number of PCs, and no more. The fuses had repeatedly tripped, overnight updates were failing, and machines could not boot in the morning. Those “cleaners use only” sockets are therefore (it would appear), the perfect candidate for a 4-gang power splitter, since they’re often on a separate circuit and can cope with high power draw.

  2. Interesting read, James – not for the first time, you have covered one of the aspects of provision that lies at the periphery of most technoligists’ awareness.

    We use the same approach described by Rich – separate ring for different appliances, most notably in areas where we have full classrooms of computers rather than in areas more sparsely populated or subject to lower power demands. Do students (or other guests) take heed of a ‘cleaners only’ notice? Probably not.

    Testing our own assets is pretty straight forward, albeit time consuming. We’ve just started outsourcing the testing process to save ourselves some time and effort.

    For student (or staff) owned devices and appliances, it’s so difficult to test everything that IMO even with a policy in place, you are never going to catch everything and remove the risk that you are trying to mitigate in the first place.

    If this were boiling down to making a visual inspection, where might this happen? In a technicians office? At reception? Could it even be a delegated as a responsibility for all staff in their of hosting guests and their appliances?


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