One of the least exciting parts of teaching Digital Media/Broadcast Journalism is equipment management.
We love for our students to be hands on with the tools of the trade, but the idea of 200+ 14-18 year olds checking out and returning equipment ranging from $500-$5000 is a little scary.
When I began teaching, I placed a clipboard and paper beside the door to the classroom. I expected students to be honest and write down the equipment information, their name, the date, time, and when they planned to bring it back. While most were honest, many just didn’t have time when they were running out to catch a bus after school. Most of our equipment already had barcode tags for district inventory management, so I was looking for a solution that could utilize the existing tags.
During the search, we came across a solution from a large barcode and scanner company. It was designed to scan in and out equipment, but was much bigger and more complicated than what we needed. We also had to use a dedicated computer to run the software and there were no mobile options.
It was at that time that we came across CHEQROOM. This is a fully cloud-based inventory management program that works via a web browser on Mac or Windows and has a great mobile app. CHEQROOM is designed specifically with High Schools and Universities in mind with regard to student checkout and equipment tracking. It utilizes our existing barcode labels but also works with QR codes which can be self-created or purchased from the app.
Adding equipment to your inventory on CHEQROOM is as simple as scanning the item, taking a photo or choosing one from the internet based on the model number you typed in, and setting any other parameters you wish for the item. We use a blue tooth scanner connected to a phone or computer, but you may also use the built-in camera on your device to scan a barcode or QR Code.
One of the game changers for our program is the option for Self-Checkout. Basically the students download the free CHEQROOM app. You, the teacher or admin, creates their account and gives them whatever privileges you would like. Now, the student, from any location, can create a reservation for specific equipment, kits, or anything on your inventory. Once an item is reserved or checked out, it cannot be reserved or checked out again until it has been returned. For example, we have 6 Nikon D3300 DSLR cameras that students can use for packages. During the day they reserve those to pick up after school. Then they come in, I pull up their reservation, scan the equipment they reserved, and out it goes. The process takes seconds compared to minutes.
As the teacher, I can sync the equipment reservations and check in/out status to the calendar on my phone, or I can just use the app to see where everything is. The next day, I can quickly see what has been returned or what is still out so I can contact the student and locate the equipment.
The pricing is based on how many items you wish to add to your inventory and every plan includes an unlimited amount of users. The entry level plan is up to 50 items for 25/month. Of
all the tools I use on a regular basis, CHEQROOM is one of the most beneficial and has finally made classroom inventory management simple.
Check out their website and get a 21 day fully functional trial http://www.cheqroom.com