Device Management for Schools: Take-Home Device Program Solutions

In recent years, many schools have focused on adopting technology at a rapid pace. The ambitious goal to connect students with the tech to help them succeed was accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, where it became a lifeline in facilitating remote education.

1-to-1 Device Program Stats for US Schools as of March 2021

%
Middle & High School
%
Elementary School

A March 2021 survey by the EdWeek Research Center found that 90 percent of US educators said there was at least one device for every middle and high schooler. An additional 84 percent of educators said the same about elementary school students. Needless to say, schools have invested “a lot” in mobile device programs over the last few years.

The Wake County School District in North Carolina is one example. The district was in the process of updating to a 1-to-1 model in which every student would have access to their own individual device, but the transition to remote learning in 2020 meant they quickly spent $48 million on new devices.

Today’s students have grown up with technology woven into all facets of their lives. In order to keep up with the continued demand for technology in the curriculum, it has now become standard practice for many schools to allow 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 have equitable 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 that letting students take devices home also comes with challenges, too. Here we discuss those challenges as well as proven solutions to make 1-to-1 take-home models more efficient for students and less burdensome on school staff.

Challenge #1: Forgotten Devices

“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 notoriously forgetful. And between calling Mom or Dad to deliver the device, and missing out on classwork, a forgotten device can be a serious distraction to students and teachers for an 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 an on-site device loaner program. By filling a secure FUYL Tower Smart Charging Locker with loaner devices at each school location, students can enter a 4-digit PIN or scan an RFID badge to check out a loaner device with minimal faculty oversight.

The only time taken from an IT member’s or a media specialist’s day is providing the PIN or RFID access. This process can be automated even further by integrating an external ticketing system with LocknCharge Cloud.

The best part of all? The student is able to get back to class – and back to learning – without missing a beat.

Challenge #2: Dead Devices

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 FUYL Tower Smart Locker in a public area of the school. By empowering students to securely charge their devices during the day, schools are teaching students to take ownership of their devices while decreasing the costs of their device programs.

Read these case studies to learn more about on-demand public charging in schools
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A “Textbook” Launch for Digital Textbooks at Vauban
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Empowering Students with Mobile Device Charging Stations for Public Charging at Deforest

Challenge: #3 Broken Devices

One of the top frustrations of IT staff is that they have more work than they're able to handle. Whether it be general software maintenance or broken hardware, it’s inevitable that student devices will need some kind of repair during the school year.

For tech teams and media specialists that are already strapped for resources, imagine the additional time that is wasted running around collecting broken devices. If 20% of devices go missing or are broken each year across multiple school locations, the burden can quickly compound.

Solution: Automate Your Break/Fix Program with a Smart Locker

Save your tech team serious time by implementing a smart charging locker to facilitate broken device exchanges. By designating a smart locker (such as the FUYL Tower) 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 an RFID card, 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 LOCKER FOR DEVICE MANAGEMENT IN SCHOOLS:

Admins can monitor and record activity of the Tower, which automates the need for extra human capital to track the whereabouts of a device at any given time. A Tower can automate manual tasks that once required human touch for a fraction of the cost.

Challenge #4: Summer Vacation

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 with Baskets

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 with ease.

In addition to mobile devices, open-concept carts can flex to accommodate robotics, 3D printers, VR goggles and more. Plus, as tablet and laptop technology in schools evolves, 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.

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Solution for Distribution: Use Distribution Tools Such as Time-Saving Baskets

The final hurdle is redistribution of devices. The answer? Time-Saving Baskets and FUYL Tower Smart Lockers. Quickly and easily transport and distribute devices throughout your school with hand-held device baskets, designed so you can safely carry 5 devices in each hand. You can see how schools are using baskets to cut down on device distribution time here:

To seamlessly onboard teachers, or perhaps new students entering your district mid-year, use a FUYL Tower to deploy devices with far fewer headaches. Just place the towers in an accessible location, and stock them with a ready-to-go device in each bay. When a teacher or student needs a device, they’re assigned a tower bay and can access a device at their convenience. There’s no need to schedule pick-ups and drop-offs or even engage in face-to-face interaction, leaving your IT team more time to focus on other tasks.

Read this case study to learn more about using a Smart Locker for contactless device distribution in schools.

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5 Smart School Tech Investments – and Why Smart Lockers Top the List

1-to-1 student device programs are becoming the norm for many school districts, and investing in support for technology is no longer optional. A March 2021 survey by the EdWeek Research Center found that 90 percent of US educators said there was at least one device for every middle and high schooler. An additional 84 percent said the same about elementary school students.

It’s more important than ever that schools fully support the digital tools that enhance learning outcomes for students. Here are a few ideas for smart investments that will make the best use of limited resources.

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1. Invest in Future-Proof Technology

"Future-proof" does not simply mean something will last forever – but rather, that will provide value well into the future. So even as technology advances, future-proof charging solutions are able to evolve to meet your ever-changing needs.

On average, mobile devices in schools are refreshed every 3 to 5 years. It’s important to consider the amount of time and energy expended every time you go back to the drawing board to re-evaluate your technology stack. Imagine the resources your district would save if you didn’t need to replace your charging solutions every time your mobile devices are updated.

Consider investing in a future-proof Joey Cart or Carrier Charging Station by LocknCharge. These solutions combine universal charging, open-concept designs and durable hardware, that will meet your needs for years to come.

Using smart technology, such as smart lockers for schools, is also an investment that will save considerable time and resources long term. The FUYL Tower, for example, keeps devices secure and charged in individually-lockable bays while Admins remotely control user access through a cloud-based portal.

FUYL Towers offer workflow flexibility so that schools can support automated broken device exchanges, no-contact loaner device check out, and secure, public charging on demand. Because LocknCharge Cloud is supported by an agile, in-house software development team, schools can be confident that the Cloud platform is supported at every turn. New, customer-centric features are added on a weekly basis, and industry-standard cyber security measures are always in place.

2. Explore Low-Cost, High-Value Solutions for Modernization

iPads and laptops enhance student learning, but millions of classroom devices lose their charge in schools every day. The obvious solution is to plug those devices into any available wall outlet. However, access to outlets may be limited and plugging too many devices into one outlet can cause a general electrical overload. Not to mention, devices that are charging on a counter or floor are not protected against breakage or theft.

Consider investing in technologies that modernize your school's infrastructure without costly facility upgrades. For example, the high-capacity Revolution 32 Cabinet eliminates the expense of installing new outlets. The station’s ECO Safe Charge™ Power Management System reduces the possibility of blowing a circuit when as many as 32 laptops are plugged in to a single outlet.

Vauban, a private education institution in Luxembourg, utilized FUYL Towers to support their approach to digital learning and to modernize their facility. At Vauban, each student takes ownership of their iPad containing digital textbooks. FUYL Towers promotes accountability for students by offering a secure place to charge a device during the day, keeping them on track in their classwork.

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A “Textbook” Launch for Digital Textbooks at Vauban

3. Consider Security Improvements

Did you know that between 2005 and 2020, US schools have lost 24.5 million records due to data breaches? Would it surprise you to find out that a sizable number of those breaches were caused by unintentional disclosures or theft/loss of portable devices?

A smart end-of-year budget investment is one that protects against data security breaches, costly device deployment setbacks and inefficient device downtime.

Implementing durable, secure charging stations and smart lockers for schools will physically protect devices and the data that's on them – not to mention decrease costs of lost hardware.

Plus, using a FUYL Tower to automate manual processes for managing mobile devices will free up tech team’s time so they can focus on upgrading network security and protecting student data from cyber attacks.

4. Support Teachers With Time-Saving Tools

With limited educational resources, a smart investment also includes a strategy to deploy valuable tools and resources to the people who need them most.

Ideally, your plan should support teachers by saving them valuable classroom time. For example, one cabinet-style cart can gobble up an additional 70+ hours of class time per year, simply in passing out and collecting devices. Our unique and innovative basket designs reduce the time teachers spend distributing devices, as well as time children spend queuing up to put them away. This means teaching can happen faster – saving over two weeks of instructional time per cart each year!

Hear from Shane Austin of Cooper Middle School as he talks about how the Putnam 16 Charging Station has helped him save valuable teaching time. The short cord system allows students to easily plug in iPads at the end of the day, and the external LED charging status display shows when devices are charged and ready to be used.

Another important time-saving tool for teachers and IT staff are smart lockers for schools. When a student's device breaks, a FUYL Tower can automate the exchange of a new one in just minutes, without the need for assistance by school faculty. This seamless loaner program ensures class isn’t being disrupted by lost, broken or dead devices.

5. Improve Teacher Training and Device Management Support

Less than 17% of teachers believe that they receive adequate training and support when it comes to educational technologies. Setting aside a portion of your budget for educating the educators is vital to ensure your edtech investments are worthwhile. Without training, teachers may not realize the full potential of new tech, and they may be hesitant to use the technology at all.

When frustration with technology is low and satisfaction is high, teachers are more likely to use new technology to its full extent. Devices can only facilitate learning if they’re charged and ready to use. Smart lockers for schools can alleviate frustration with device management by speeding up broken or lost device exchanges. In just a few minutes, students can self-serve a replacement without disrupting class by using a PIN or RFID to access a new device inside a FUYL Tower Smart Locker.

We’re here to help prepare you for the future. Our team remains committed to assisting you in minimizing disruption and maximizing your budget.

 

Sources: The State of Technology in Education – Promethean

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