May 21, 2019 | San Antonio, Texas
“We’re more than a school. Somos familia.” That’s the message James Bonham Academy demonstrates through active engagement of parents and the community in supporting student learning and development. The multicultural, multilingual K-8 school is a part of the San Antonio Independent School District (SAISD).
Recognizing that education is not a “one size fits all” package, SAISD offers more choices than any other district in the area for students to pursue special interests and career goals. One extracurricular offering growing in popularity at Bonham Academy is their volunteer-run robotics program. Preschool-age through 8th grade students participate in the construction, operation and use of robots and the computer systems that control them.
Educators all over the nation are working to inspire students with STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) programs like Bonham Academy’s robotics club, and as more and more of them are deployed, new lessons and best practices emerge.
In order to operate a successful robotics program, schools first need accessible, fully charged tech for their students. As a result, “mobile STEM labs” are a new concept quickly catching on as a cost-effective, sharable solution for delivering hands-on STEM education tools.
With three different age groups utilizing laptops, iPads and LEGO® MINDSTORMS® EV3 robots at Bonham Academy, volunteer David Lopez explains, “We needed a way to store, charge and lock several types of devices – an all-in-one solution flexible enough to accommodate all of our charging needs.”
After a Google search and an eye-catching Facebook ad about laptop carts for schools, Lopez contacted LocknCharge for more information on our open-concept charging carts. He liked what he saw and he liked what he heard.
The design gave them the versatility he was looking for. Utilizing a combination of Baskets by LocknCharge and wire racks inside their carts, Bonham Academy can fit everything they need to run the three groups of robotics club effectively and efficiently.
As a purely volunteer service that a few parents provide, Lopez recognizes the importance of that efficiency. “We’re happy whenever we can reduce setup time and instead dedicate that time to the children of the school,” he said.
Charging used to be somewhat of a hodge-podge with different devices charging in different locations, but they’ve now consolidated everything into one cart – streamlining the setup and tear-down process.
Unlike some alternative options built by the manufacturers of the STEM technology, the LocknCharge Charging Carts are more affordable and flexible. They’re multi-purpose and not tailored to any specific device; thus won’t become obsolete as the technology is redesigned in the future. And the future is really what they’re focused on. As their vision states, Bonham Academy is shaping and empowering culturally literate and innovative global learners and leaders.
For more information about “Thinking Inside the Box”, click here.
To download a PDF of this white paper, click here.
In today’s modern world, more and more schools are utilizing technology at a rapid pace. In a 2015 study, researchers found that over 80% of all students reported using a computer during the week for school work. Today’s students are digital natives – they’ve grown up with technology woven into all facets of their lives. In order to keep up with the demand for technology in the curriculum, many schools have begun allowing their students to take devices home for schoolwork.
At its surface, a 1-to-1 program is a great solution for schools across the board. After all, allowing students to take home school-owned devices ensures they always have access to their work and that they are always working with a device they are familiar with. When students are allowed to take school devices home, it helps bridge the gap between learning at school and learning at home. Nothing beats that, right?
However, teachers and other school administrators know–letting students take devices home also comes with challenges. Here we discuss those challenges as well as proven solutions to make 1-1 take-home models more efficient for students and less burdensome on school staff.
Challenge: Forgotten Device = Student Falls Behind in Class
“I left my homework at home.” Prior to services like Google Classroom, those six words were the bane of almost every teacher’s existence. Now, imagine if you replaced “homework” with “curriculum.” Students who forget their device at home are not able to participate in lessons that require the use of a device – which puts them a day behind in classwork.
Let’s be honest–students are notorious for being forgetful. And between calling Mom and Dad to bring the device, missing out on classwork, and more, the distractions that come from a forgotten device have the potential to halt or alter your class for the entire day.
Solution: Implement a Streamlined Device Loaner Program
Get a device back in the hands of the student faster–and save your Tech Teams serious time–by implementing a streamlined device loaner program. By filling a smart charging locker charging station with ready-to-use devices, students can simply punch in a 4-digit PIN or scan an RFID badge to gain access to a new device inside the secure locker. The only time taken from an IT Member’s or a Media Specialist’s day is providing the PIN or RFID access. And best of all, the student is able to get back to class–and back to learning–without missing a beat.
Challenge: Dead Devices = Unattended Devices are Stolen, Go Missing or Are Broken at a Higher Rate
Remember those forgetful students we mentioned? They’re probably going to forget to charge their devices before coming to class, too. Similar to showing up with no device, a dead laptop or tablet has the same capacity to disrupt learning time.
“You don’t always think about charging as a problem until you see the things students do to charge their devices throughout the day,” said Kim Bannigan, a learning information systems coordinator at DeForest Area School District. “Kids were leaving devices wherever there was an open outlet. At one point, an outlet in the cafeteria was being used so frequently that it disrupted the lunch line.”
-Kim Bannigan, Administrator at DeForest Area School District in Wisconsin
With limited outlets in the classroom, cafeteria, or media center, students are probably going to play a game of limbo all day long–struggling to find an outlet, only to leave their devices unattended while charging.
Solution: Enable Secure Charging Locations for Students
Allow students to securely charge their devices on demand by installing a smart charging locker charging station in a public area of the school or in the media center. Schools that do not provide secure charging can see as many as 10% of devices becoming broken or going missing each year. By empowering students to securely charge their devices during the day, schools are decreasing the costs of their device programs.
You can read more about on-demand charging workflow here: Deforest Areas Schools Empowering Students with Mobile Device Charging Towers.
Challenge: Broken Devices = Increased Burden on School Staff and Resources
One of the top frustrations of IT Staff is that they have more work than they’re able to handle. It’s inevitable that many institution-owned devices will need some kind of repair–whether it be general software maintenance or broken hardware–at some point during the school year.
For Tech Teams and Media Specialists that are already strapped on time, imagine the additional wasted time needed to run around collecting broken devices. With 10% of devices going missing or broken during each year of mobile deployment, the burden can quickly compound.
Solution: Streamline Your Break/Fix Program with a Smart Locker Charging Station
Save your Tech Teams serious time by implementing a smart charging locker to collect broken devices. By designating a smart locker (such as the FUYL Tower 15) as a device repair drop point, school staff members no longer need to waste their valuable time tracking down and collecting broken devices. Once a student reports that their device is in need of attention, a staff member can assign that student to a specific locker. Using an admin-defined PIN or with RFID access, the student can either drop their device in an empty slot, or swap their broken device for a ready-to-use one. Once their device is fixed, they simply return to a smart charging locker to swap their loaner device for the original device.
BONUS FEATURE OF A SMART CHARGING LOCKER: Admins can monitor and record activity of the Tower, which reduces the need for extra human capital to manage this workflow.
Challenge: Summer Vacation = Nightmares of Device Storage, Charging and Redistribution
Summer vacation is just around the corner, and suddenly you’re scrambling, trying to figure out where you are going to store all these devices this summer. Plus, you’re having nightmares that tablets and laptops aren’t going to be charged when school starts back up. And on top of that, you’re already stressed about the chaos that will ensue when devices need to be redistributed at the beginning of the year.
Solution for Storage: Invest in an Open-Concept Charging Cart
Many schools are investing in open-concept charging carts with baskets that have the ability to securely store, charge and transport large numbers of laptops, tablets and other technology when not in use. By placing the devices in baskets, devices are easily loaded and unloaded into a cart, allowing them to be charged in batches very easily.
In addition to mobile devices, open-concept carts can accommodate robotics, 3D Printers, VR Goggles and more. Plus, as tablet and laptop technology in schools changes, these types of universal charging stations will not become outdated.
Solution for Charging: Find a Charging Solution That Features ECO Safe Charge
Alright, so you’ve solved the issue of storage… now onto those dead batteries. Finding a spot to charge tens, hundreds or even thousands of devices at once can be daunting. It can also put serious strain on a school building’s electrical capabilities. To efficiently charge greater numbers of devices while reducing the possibility of a general electrical overload to an outlet, power management inside of a charging cart is key. Features like “safe on/off”, “ECO Timer All” and “ECO Timer Cycle” are imperative to a smooth transition from summer to the first day of school. Click here for a quick guide to getting devices ready for the new school year.
Solution for Distribution: Use Distribution Tools Such as Time-Saving Baskets
The final hurdle is redistribution of devices. The answer? Time-Saving Baskets. Quickly and easily transport and distribute devices throughout your school with hand-held device baskets, designed to accommodate five devices. You can see how schools are using baskets to cut down on device distribution time here:
Find the right charging solution for your school’s 1-1 challenges by clicking here.
April 10, 2019 | Lake Charles, Louisiana
Mitzi Vincent teaches 6th grade science at the largest middle school in the state of Louisiana. S.J. Welsh Middle School, in the heart of Lake Charles, serves more than 1,300 students of mixed abilities, special needs, cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds. As a non-Title 1 school, teachers have to get creative in order to find funding. They rely on donations, fundraisers and grants to give their students the very best education and access to technology that they can.
Mitzi is a prime example of a passionate and tenacious teacher facing these funding challenges head-on. When she first stepped into the classroom she currently occupies, she got to work. The technology was limited and what they had was dated, so she wrote and received a grant for 1:1 iPads for her students.
After integrating tablet use into her curriculum she quickly realized their 12-year-old building wasn’t set up with tech in mind, and even with a fairly large space, science supplies seemed to have a way of filling it up. That’s when Mitzi decided there had to be a better solution to charging her new fleet of iPads than the power strips she’d spread throughout the classroom.
Being the resourceful go-getter she is, Mitzi visited the Calcasieu Parish school district’s tech center looking for some expertise on charging and device management options. Out of that visit came the perfect opportunity. She became a part of the center’s pilot program for LocknCharge Putnam 16 Charging Stations™. In exchange for using the charging station on a daily basis, she’d give them her feedback–does it work well, is it convenient, any issues to report, etc.
Mitzi brought the Putnam back to her classroom, plugged it in and was ready to roll. “I have a motto that if something takes more than three major steps it is not going to happen,” she said. The iPad charging station and its easy setup passed her first test with flying colors.
The small footprint and efficiency of charging 16 devices with just one outlet sealed the deal. Plus, with a color-coded LED charging status display, the Putnam made it simple to see which iPads were fully charged and ready. Students are now able to easily help themselves, so Mitzi can spend more of her time teaching and less time tracking down and distributing devices. She also appreciates the fact that she can lock them all up with a combination or the override key that she holds onto.
Looking ahead (as Mitzi tends to do), she wants to write a grant for a second Putnam 16 so that she can accommodate more iPads. As she continues to expand and upgrade her classroom technology, she has her eyes on other LocknCharge products, too. The Laptop charging Carts that offer more capacity, and perhaps even the Sphero Charging Case for her new girls robotics class.
For schools with limited funding, it can certainly be tough to keep up with technology. However, the same can be said about teachers like Mitzi. On behalf of LocknCharge, thank you for all that you do.