The total incarcerated population in the United States has hovered over two million individuals since 2002. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, that number jumps to 6.6 million if you include people on supervised probation or parole. That’s more than the entire population of Alaska, Hawaii, New Mexico and Montana, combined. A federal study found that within five years of release, 76 percent of prisoners were put behind bars again. In an effort to reduce the prison population, lower recidivism rates and strengthen public safety, elected officials have recently pushed for new methods of reform.
One approach to reform is through education and training. When the RAND Corporation researched the effectiveness of correctional education, they found that inmates who participated in education programs had a 43 percent lower chance of recidivating than those who did not.
Moreover, just as technology supports learning in academic settings, inmates see a benefit from the use of tablets or computers in correctional education settings. The Tech Edvocate explains, “Research shows that many inmates didn’t have access to educational resources prior to serving their time in prison. Edtech can help put an end to the cycle that keeps them locked behind bars by granting freedom through education.”
Tablets Generate a Positive Response in Sacramento Jail
Fans of the new Netflix docu-series Jailbirds get an inside look into the lives of Sacramento County Main Jail inmates and the deputies who work there. As reported in the Sacramento Bee, “Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman Sgt. Tess Deterding said the series ‘really started to look like an opportunity to showcase the services we have going on,’ such as vocational and educational programs and other resources like drug treatment.” One of the showcased services is a digital learning platform provided by Edovo. If you watch the six-episode series, you’ll see inmates with the same Edovo tablets that are utilized by correctional facilities across the country. With pre-loaded tablets, Edovo is bringing daily access to educational content, meaningful rehabilitation programming, and affordable communication to the Sacramento County Main Jail.
Since launching a pilot project to distribute tablets in Sacramento, the correctional staff has been “won over by the program and the effect it has had on inmates.” Officials also say they haven’t had any issues with the tablets. “Inmates have used them toward obtaining their high school diplomas, parenting classes and domestic violence courses. Other courses offered through their intranet include mechanics and career-based learning options.”
Seven Key Reasons to Consider Tablets
In addition to offering software and tools which allow inmates to practice new skills, earn tangible certificates and take classes, there are several other benefits to putting tablets into secure circulation.
- Increases efficiency by moving facilities closer to paperless processes
- Maintains connections to inmates’ support systems at home
- Incentives positive behavior
- Prepares inmates with the 21st-century skills needed to obtain jobs upon release
- Provides a sense of normalcy
- Decreases incidents of violence
- Replaces the need for standard textbooks which can be costly to provide
Overcoming Security Challenges
When an agency is looking to bring handheld devices or laptops into a correctional facility, they are simultaneously looking for the safest, most secure tablet charging station. Not only for charging but for storage as well. That’s why if you look closely in the first episode of Jailbirds, you’ll see LocknCharge charging solutions in the background of several scenes.
With durable construction, two-point locking systems and optional floor-mounting anchor kits to safeguard a fleet of tablets, Tablet Charging Carts are an essential piece of a successful implementation. Device Baskets by LocknCharge help keep things organized and easy to distribute, collect and assess any missing pieces. Also, the effortless mobility of the carts allows prison staff to roll devices from one unit to another and back to their storage hub for cleaning, charging and letting software updates run overnight. The Carts include unique, secure cabling systems that ensure cords can’t be easily removed and used to charge contraband smartphones.
It’s that time of year again. The time when we’re thankful for cooler temperatures and vibrant autumn leaves. While you may be busy preparing for fall classroom activities, we’re here to remind you that it’s never too early to start planning for next year’s summer programs. Summer offers distinctive opportunities that are indispensable to an excellent education. According to RAND Education, “Research has shown that students’ skills and knowledge often deteriorate during the summer months. Instruction during the summer has the potential to stop these losses and propel students toward higher achievement.”
With that in mind, we’ve pulled together the latest research on the benefits of a STEM or STEAM summer curriculum and its advantages for every grade level. Also, we’ve included three exemplary summer STEM programs with strong outcomes as well as strategies to overcome technology challenges. So grab that pumpkin spiced latte and get ready to make next summer count by stopping the “summer slide.”
STEM Learning in Out-of-School Programs Provides Unique Advantages
One of the most significant advantages of offering a STEM or STEAM curriculum in out-of-school settings is that it directly affects what’s possible inside classrooms. A report by the National Research Council found evidence that STEM learning in out-of-school programs has been shown to:
- Contribute to young people’s interest in and understanding of STEM
- Connect young people to caring adults who serve as role models
- Reduce the achievement gap between young people from low-income and high-income families
The National Summer Learning Association (NSLA) sums up the benefits with this conclusion, “Summer offers a unique opportunity for students to engage in STEM learning in ways that mirror real-world needs, while also drawing on the practices that make these STEM learning resources & activities most successful.”
Advantages at Every Grade Level
From little ones to teens, all grade levels can benefit from summer enrichment programs in science, technology, engineering, arts, and math. Julian Krinsky Camps & Programs highlights the advantages for kids of all ages.
- Elementary Students: Explore future careers, build self-confidence and get out of their comfort zones
- Middle School Students: Ease the transition to high school, catch up on STEM subjects, career development
- High School Students: Prepare for college, increase college admission chances, and improve social skills
Three Creative Uses of Technology in Summer STEM Programs
Technology can strengthen the activities offered by summer programs. Check out these examples of schools that incorporate technology to facilitate a hands-on, engaging, and most of all, fun experience!
- An Out of This World Hands-On Experience
The Zero Robotics Middle School Summer Program is a five-week innovative program for middle school students. The curriculum is described as “truly out of this world” since it culminates in a tournament where students gather in teams to design code that to control a small satellite. “The best code is uploaded to the International Space Station where live astronauts judge a competition between the satellites programmed by students from around the country,” explains EdSource.
- Journey through Mathematics
In the summer following third grade, students lose 27% of their school-year grades in math. That number jumps to 50% by the summer after seventh grade. To counteract the loss of math proficiency, schools across Connecticut participate in the Connecticut Pre-Engineering Program (CPEP) Summer Math Gaming Challenge. “CPEP’s blended learning model integrates face-to-face teacher instruction with cutting-edge, games-based mathematics learning software to create an engaging, customized, and differentiated learning experience.” Challenges include creating a digitally animated ad using the Scratch programming language and applying principles of gravity, force, and structural integrity to create a package optimized for aerial drop-delivery.
- Opening up Infinite Career Opportunities for Young Women
Only 6.7% of women graduate with STEM degrees vs. 17% of men. Recently there has been an increase in initiatives and out-of-school programs aiming to close the gender gap and inspire more women to choose STEM pathways. One such program is the all-girls Forensic Science Camp at Saint Mary’s College in Notre Dame, Indiana. This one-week program caters to students who are interested in forensic science. “Students arrive at a staged crime scene and must gather and analyze evidence to find a suspect. Using biology, chemistry, mathematics and deductive reasoning, campers study fingerprints, footprints, fiber and hair samples, and other evidence.”
Three Strategies to Overcome Technology Challenges
Introducing technology into school curriculum isn’t always easy. In a Research-to-Results brief on incorporating technology into out-of-school time programs, Child Trends identified three strategies to overcome challenges with integrating educational technology.
- Offer practical training and technical support on using technology, so staff members are equipped to integrate it into program activities
- Establish guidelines and role modeling for proper technology use
- Partner with schools and businesses to offset the costs of purchasing and maintaining technology
Share Your STEM Stories
Does your school or district offer summer enrichment with a STEM/STEAM curriculum? We’d love to share your stories so that other imaginative educators can gain inspiration from your successes. Drop us a message on Facebook, tweet us, or connect on LinkedIn and let us know how you stop the summer slide.
Schools tell us we rock. Academies say we’re awesome. Teachers say we make a difference. Our reps have even been called lifesavers. One customer was so thrilled by their customer support experience, they shared a picture of their precious pup to express thanks and brighten our day.
So, what’s the secret behind our tech company’s wide-spread customer success? LocknCharge focuses on hiring extraordinary people who always strive to do what’s best for the customer.
Our customer support team continues to exemplify this magic formula for success. They’re our expert problem solvers, providing the right answers to your inquiries in 48 hours or less – sometimes before you even know what questions to ask. They’re passionate about our products and know them inside and out. They’ll conduct research, proactively inquire and follow up, making sure our customers are always satisfied. It’s the reason they receive countless thank you emails covered in exclamation points.
"I have recommended LocknCharge to several people now based on my experience with you. Thanks for the great support and really nice product." -Matt Cramer
“Jason is awesome to work with and it is because we take good care of them that they continue to do business with us.” -Steve, Palo Verde School District
"I wanted to let you know I really appreciate how easy it is to work with you and your company. I will certainly recommend LocknCharge to other districts going forth." -Happy Customer
"You guys are the best and that is why we are buying many more this summer! Thank you again!!" -Maria, Weatherford ISD
We know that being genuine, kind, courteous and caring goes a long way. When our customer service staff works hard and exceed expectations, customers tend to fall in love with our products and our staff. It’s no wonder our mobile technology company boasts a Net Promoter Score (NPS) of 97 for its customer support, which is higher than world-renowned tech giants.
Jason Zelhofer, warranty and customer support manager, is working behind the scenes of this well-oiled customer support team. A top priority for Jason is making teachers’ lives easier, since he was raised by one. With a single-mom upbringing and as a father of three young boys, he just gets it.
“I want teachers to be able to get home to their families quickly and not have to worry about tech issues in their classrooms,” he says.
Jason’s 15 years as a licensed electrician gave him the foundation he needed to build a strong support team at LocknCharge. From training apprentices and interacting with diverse clientele at hospitals, banks, government entities and schools, to managing two remote technical customer service associates and one on-site customer support specialist, he’s an expert at mentoring through example and talking customers through practically any scenario. From fulfilling a school’s request for an engineer’s CAD drawings due to new construction to ensuring a teacher doesn’t stress over a misplaced power cord, he wears many hats.
“I love that we can be different,” Jason says. “We treat our accounts like family. We know them well, so they’ll ask us stuff like, ‘how are your kids doing?’”
Chris Ledbetter is a self-proclaimed jokester and the go-to geek for all things mechanical. Previously as his own boss, he’s constructed powerful PCs for gaming. Repaired hardware and installed software. Recovered crashed operating systems. Designed complex networks. And as loadmaster for the US AirForce, he’s collected numerous awards and honors, including a global war on terrorism service medal, completed 155 combat missions, flown 296 combat hours, calculated the center of gravity and executed air drops.
He’s also a self-admitted “tinkerer of electronics” who at a young age, made it a hobby of his to break open consoles and computers. While most kids were playing with GI Joes, Chris just wanted to go to battle with another mother board. His obsession with technological toys continued, and he made a freelance career out of building computers and teaching other how to do the same. When he joined LocknCharge, his first task was taking apart 6-foot tall FUYL Towers and diagnosing non-functioning ones. At one point, his family was living with four of them in their living room.
When he’s not dismembering towers, he’s traveling to accounts with screw driver and miscellaneous parts always on hand.
“LocknCharge gives us a lot of autonomy to always make it right for the customer,” Chris says.
With a blend of commercial insurance and waitressing experience, customer support specialist, Caite Leifer, has the perfect background for the job. She’s had many customer-facing interactions. She’s also had to work with many rules and restrictions, so she understands how rewarding it is to give customers exactly what they need.
"While sometimes it’s about helping customers make the right choices, other times it’s about providing them with simple reassurance that we’re here and we’re going to take care of their needs," Caite says.
“Contacting customer care should be as painless as possible…and even enjoyable.”
Caite is the first voice a customer hears, answering or fielding all inbound customer calls, support emails and online inquiries. While a standard response time is within 48 hours, she makes it her personal goal to contact customers within a few hours of their request to give them peace of mind that LocknCharge has received and is actively working on their request.
The customer support team is empowered to do whatever it takes to make it easier on customers.
“When I’m able to send a replacement cart to a teacher before school is in session, I get to lighten their load a little.” Caite says. “And it brightens my day. I get to say, ‘Don’t worry about it.’”
Each of the team members work autonomously in their respective area of expertise, but also operate as a close-knit group of four, adjusting to varying workflows, checking in, collaborating, and backing each other up. As Caite is shipping out replacement carts, troubleshooting a lock if a combination is forgotten, or writing up cases, she’s also fielding more complex cases to her teammates, enlisting one of LocknCharge’s technical customer service associates to get the job done.
“We’re all in this together,” Steve Ledbetter, Global Chief Operating Officer, says. “Our company has been successful because of our people who are able to keep up with the ever-changing industry. Flexibility, adaptability and camaraderie are what counts in the tech world. Our competitors can try to create similar products, but there’s one thing they can’t ever replicate, and that’s our people.”
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