Students can rent the latest technology by the day, week, month or semester at CSU Monterey Bay's virtual TechRent store.
"High Tech @ Low Rental Fees" is back for its third year, allowing students to affordably rent equipment without purchasing it.
In its first two years, TechRent has saved students more than $150,000 in equipment purchase costs and generated over $28,000 in rental fees. That money supports the store's operations and covers the cost of purchasing additional technology.
The store operates virtually, meaning that students are able to learn about and place orders for products – including clickers, laptops, flip cams, iPads, calculators, cameras and pocket projectors – online, and pick them up at the IT Help Desk in the campus library.
The project was launched with funding from the U.S. Department of Education. Arlene Krebs, director of CSUMB’s Wireless Education and Technology Center, is the moving force behind TechRent. She responded to a call for textbook rental grant applications from the Education Department’s Fund for the Improvement of Post-Secondary Education with her outside-the-box equipment rental idea.
CSUMB was awarded just under $300,000 in the fall of 2009; the virtual store was up and running three months later.
The three-member start-up team – Krebs, Marc Oehlman, who serves as project coordinator, and Jonathan Baptista, who serves as store manager and technical support guru – had to assemble the inventory, and worked to ensure that all technologies were accessible for people with learning and physical disabilities.
Faculty input revealed that student response devices or clickers were expensive for students to buy but helpful in the classroom. They became the store’s basic item when it opened for business in January 2010. Other items in the store’s initial inventory: Kodak cams, Bamboo touch pads and smart pens. That first semester, 165 rentals were completed. In spring 2012, that number had increased to 450.
Quantity and variety of items for rent have continued to expand in response to campus needs. Faculty members may borrow equipment for a few weeks to experiment with implementation into their courses. Rentals are also available to them and to CSUMB staff members.
“We’ve established a unique service for our campus community,” Krebs said, “a campus resource that has become as important as the library and the bookstore.”