Smarter equips students with the skills to succeed
Department chair Prof. Lorenzo Bertucelli, Department vice-chair Prof. Laura Gavioli, Technical management: Vincenzo Settembrino, MA; Maria Chiara Ceci, MA.
Founded in 1175, the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia (UNIMORE) is one of the main seats of European learning. Consistently ranked by international organizations as one of the leading public universities for teaching and research in Italy, UNIMORE has a community of over 21,000 students with 780 professors and researchers working across 14 departments in the cities of Modena and Reggio Emilia.
Improving student engagement
Innovation and excellence are the guiding principles for UNIMORE’s Department of Linguistic and Cultural Studies. The Department offers degree courses and conducts interdisciplinary research in foreign languages and linguistics, history and philosophy, anthropology and sociology, culture and communication, and aims to provide graduates with the skills to succeed in the workplace and to engage critically with the contemporary world.
Fueled by a national research grant of EUR 5 million in 2017, the Department planned to create multiple state-of-the-art language labs and classrooms. Within the new teaching environments, the Department sought to implement a ‘smart classroom strategy’ that would provide students with access to high-performance laptops running a uniform set of translation, linguistic analytics, and assessment applications.
Vincenzo Settembrino, Technical Administrator at the Department of Linguistic and Cultural Studies, UNIMORE, explains: “Previously, students would bring their laptops to lectures and examinations, each with its own operating system. At the start of the sessions, it would take a long time for students to power up their devices, load the right applications and learning tools.”
By providing all their students with the same devices during lectures, the Department staff observed that they could offer a more consistent, engaging learning experience, and help students and professors make the most of every second in the classroom and language lab. Standardization was perceived to have a positive impact on tests and examinations, which could be run in a more efficient and seamless way.
HOW UNIMORE ADOPTS A CUTTING-EDGE SMART CLASSROOM STRATEGY
Building on centuries of academic excellence, UNIMORE is developing state-of-the-art smart classrooms that will provide students with a more engaging and enriching learning experience. Working with Lenovo, UNIMORE is helping students and professors make the most of every second in the classroom, contributing to greater long-term success.
Why Lenovo? Robustness and high performance
UNIMORE chose Lenovo as the ideal partner to support its smart classroom strategy. The Department decided to install 250 Lenovo ThinkPad E590 laptops across its two 90-seat classrooms and smaller language labs, installing application such as WordSmith language analysis tools, as well as the Moodle learning management environment.
In addition, the Department decided to implement Lenovo Vantage, an application which simplifies device management tasks by enabling technical administrators to run diagnostics, perform BIOS and operating system updates, and check on the warranty terms for each laptop. The Department also purchased Lenovo LanSchool Teacher software, which will allow professors to share video content and presentations across all student laptops once fully deployed.
According to the team of experts informing the Department purchases, several factors made Lenovo the standout solution, even though other vendors offered lower-price tools. First, their past experience with Lenovo laptops and desktops, and the exceptional value of the products.
In particular, the devices do not have lots of third-party software added, which is often tricky and costly to manage and upgrade.
Second, the Lenovo solutions also aligned well with the requirements envisaged. For example, the robust outer case, spill-resistant keyboard and 180-degree opening make them perfectly suited for intensive, everyday use by students. Similarly, the Lenovo laptops offer the high performance and high-definition [HD] graphics capabilities that are needed to support the most demanding interactive learning applications, which rely heavily on audio-visual components.
Furthermore, the Department is taking full advantage of built-in Wake-on-LAN functionality to power the laptops from a central command point, which helps to improve energy efficiency. The solid-state drives (SSDs) and high levels of RAM minimize latency and application response times, while the HD graphics card optimizes accessibility of educational content, which is especially useful for visually impaired students.
UNIMORE was on a tight project schedule, and aimed to implement the Lenovo solutions within one month over the summer break period. To achieve this, the Department turned to Lenovo business partner ABS Computers, that managed the implementation process with the help of two technicians from the UNIMORE team, and successfully completed the full installation in just four days.
The implementation was a very smooth and painless process for UNIMORE. Even when it did run into challenges, Lenovo provided alternatives to keep things moving forward, helping to ensure the solutions would be ready when students returned. The commitment and expertise of the Lenovo team, as well as close collaboration with the UNIMORE technical team and team of experts, produced the most successful outcome.
Creating more enriching experiences
With the Lenovo solutions in place, UNIMORE is realizing its vision for a modern, innovative smart classroom. As soon as students enter the classroom and language labs, the laptops are ready and waiting, eliminating wasted time spent powering up their devices. As a result, professors have more time for instruction, while students enjoy a more productive session.
“We now complete examination periods much faster, too”, adds a member of the UNIMORE technical staff. “Previously, students setting up and loading tests on their devices contributed to the exam period stretching out over several days. With the Lenovo solutions installed, we have accelerated the process by 75%, and now finish all tests within a single day, helping to free our staff for more valuable activities.”
The Lenovo laptops also enable a greater level of interaction between students and professors during lectures, helping to improve everybody’s involvement. From the point of view of the users, lecture sessions are now much more focused and rewarding, as professors know that every student can see and interact with the same course materials and learning tools. And the students are happier, especially as they no longer have to carry their own device to every lesson.
The Department partnership with Lenovo has been integral to building a more innovative and engaging approach to learning, which both teaching staff and technical experts believe will contribute to greater long-term outcomes for their students. Looking ahead, UNIMORE is excited about finding new opportunities where it can implement similar smart classroom strategies—strengthening its position as a leader in the education sector.
“Our partnership with Lenovo has been integral to building a more innovative and interactive approach to learning, which we believe will contribute to greater long-term outcomes for our students.”
Vincenzo Settembrino, Technical Administrator, Department of Linguistic and Cultural Studies, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia
Processor: Up to 8th Gen Intel® Core™ i7-8565U
Graphics: Integrated Intel® graphics
Memory: Up to 32GB (2 DIMM)
Storage: Up to 512GB PCIe M.2 SSD
Operating System: Up to Windows 10 Pro