Planning for the Unplannable

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Background

The small Cleveland, Ohio suburb of Shaker Heights is proud to be known as “a vibrant, desirable hub for cosmopolitan living.” It’s not by accident, either. As one of the first planned cities, and as a city actively focused on inclusion and integration since the 1950s, they’ve earned the reputation – and their top-notch school system is an integral piece of that.

Shaker Heights City School District is one of just eight public districts in the nation to be recognized as a PreK-12 International Baccalaureate Continuum District. Meaning they provide the rigorous, internationally recognized and globally focused curriculum of the IB Programme to their 5,000+ students across all grade levels.

Another thing they provide for those 5,000+ students? Chromebooks. As they’ve transitioned to a predominantly 1:1 tech ratio over the past few years, they’ve approached their mobile device deployment with the same careful planning their whole community is known for:

  • All Shaker Heights teachers went through the training, practice and exams to become Level 1 Google Certified Educators.
  • The district’s tech team investigated a range of Chromebook charging solutions – ultimately deciding on centralized smart lockers in common areas.
  • They tested various locations throughout their middle school and high school to determine where the lockers would get the most use and least opportunity for student shenanigans.
  • They did their homework, so to speak.

Challenge

No one planned for a global pandemic. Not even Shaker Heights.

Solution

They adapted. Worldwide, COVID-19 rushed school districts into remote learning. Thankfully for Shaker Heights, they had set themselves up with agile technology that made it a fairly smooth transition. Equipped with six FUYL Tower™ Intelligent Asset Management Systems® by LocknCharge, the District’s tech team developed a safe, self-service drop-off and pick-up procedure for any student Chromebook repairs and replacement parts needed during the extended school closure.

Though originally purchased as a solution for public charging on demand, the FUYL Towers allowed for a seamless pivot into the break/fix functionality the District needed. Technical Services Coordinator, Casey Ailiff, said the Towers have absolutely been a worthwhile investment.

“I don’t see any other feasible or streamlined way that we could do the same kind of repair that we’re doing now [without the FUYL Towers]. I think it’d be a lot more cumbersome on school staff, on my staff, and on our parents and students,” said Ailiff. His team has heard nothing but positive feedback from parents, too.

What’s Next?

With such a refreshingly quick turnaround and well-received process, Shaker Heights City School District is feeling fortunate to have FUYL Towers integrated into their ever-evolving workflows. They’ve quickly witnessed firsthand what the smart lockers can do to help lighten their IT workload, and may very well revamp the way they use their fleet, post-pandemic. A new cloud update set to release this month should ease their operations a little further still – letting the account admins use one centralized portal to remotely manage all six towers.

In such a tumultuous time for schools, it is more valuable than ever to have technology that not only works for you today, but also is ready to evolve with you. LocknCharge products are backed by a lifetime warranty, solid customer support and a lot of good listeners – who turn customer feedback into actionable improvements.

No goods or services were exchanged in response for this statement.

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The Essential Swiss-Army-knife-like cart for Mobile Deployments

Impression

Background

Seine-et-Yvelines Numérique has a relatively short history. Originally attached solely to the County of Yvelines when it was first established in 2016, the Open Mixed Syndicate (“Syndicat Mixte Ouvert” - SMO) became known as Seine-et-Yvelines Numérique in January 2020 with the membership of the county of Hauts-De-Seine.

They’ve managed to do a lot in a short amount of time. Seine-et-Yvelines Numérique was created to organize the deployment of Very High Speed internet (THD) and develop digital services throughout the territory – including electronic security, IT and telecom solutions and digital education. They are currently managing technology for 116 colleges (students ages 11-15) in the Yvelines and are also responsible for the various municipalities that can subscribe to their educational offerings.

Ultimately, Seine-et-Yvelines Numérique wants students to use digital technology its fullest potential. This takes solid support from teachers and reliable device charging and security.

Challenge

Seine-et-Yvelines Numérique supports education players at all levels of technology: access to THD, turnkey hardware and software solutions, teacher technical training, and facilitation of educational projects. Each year, the colleges are asked to make calls for educational projects, which allow them access to additional digital equipment. Through these calls, Seine-et-Yvelines Numérique has seen the demand for mobile tablet classes rise dramatically.

With 16,000 iPads deployed in total (amongst which 4,400 iPads are deployed in carts as “mobile classrooms” ) throughout 96 colleges, Seine-et-Yvelines Numérique manages devices for a wide variety of uses: security when not in use, charging without degrading the batteries, and easily transporting devices up and down stairs and across college campuses that may be spread out over several buildings.

Solution

Seine-et-Yvelines Numérique first saw LocknCharge products at the Bett Education Technology Show and knew immediately that the Carrier™ Charging Carts were the right fit for their teachers. The heavy-duty, fully welded steel Carts would secure 20, 30 or 40 mobile devices, and with the option to use Baskets by LocknCharge inside the Carts, the colleges are given ultimate flexibility with their device deployments.

The SMO purchased hundreds of Carrier Carts to use throughout the county colleges. As Seine-et-Yvelines Numérique’s Mobility Project Manager, Patrick Mazars, put it,

“The complexity of deploying the devices is no longer an obstacle to using these devices.”

He explained that teachers are impressed with the carts because of their Swiss-Army-knife-like versatility. Whether sharing 30 iPads between classrooms or grabbing a Basket of 5, they are equipped to do it quickly and safely.

Another notable feature of the Carrier Carts is the ECO Safe Charge™ Power Management System, built to handle power requirements of almost any device by staging the availability of power. The system also ensures that devices are not overcharged, increasing their longevity.

Patrick Mazars and his team compared all other carts available on the market, and LocknCharge came out on top to best fit the requirements of the customer. Even after in-depth research, they were pleasantly surprised to discover another advantage when the Carts arrived–how easy they were to plug and unplug.

“It’s very simple, it’s effective,” Patrick Mazars said.

Effectiveness is important to Seine-et-Yvelines Numérique. They’ve taken careful, calculated action to make sure their colleges and municipalities maximize the use of their digital technology. They’re not deploying equipment recklessly without thought or training, but rather little by little with proper support.

What’s Next?

As more and more teachers witness the ease in which their colleagues are adopting and deploying mobile technology into the classrooms with the help of LocknCharge solutions, more and more teachers are utilizing and requesting them. The charging and storage solutions have become a well-known and necessary component to the full mobile device package. Even municipalities are convinced that you can’t have one without the other.

Seine-et-Yvelines Numérique plans to add more Carrier 20, 30 and 40 Carts, iQ 10 and Putnam 16 Charging Stations, and FUYL Towers in the near term.

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How TAFE SA’s Virtual Reality Program is Revolutionizing Education

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Background

TAFE SA is South Australia’s largest vocational education and training provider with over 70,000 enrolled students and 34 campuses TAFE SA is currently teaching over 29 trades at their Tonsley campus and is one of the leaders in Australia for its trade department.

TAFE SA recently deployed 30 Lenovo Mirage VR headsets to aid education for their Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Servicing Courses. Students have a 1:1 approach with the headsets that allows them to explore and experience high risk areas they would not ordinarily see as apprentices. TAFE SA has also mapped out the entire Tonsley Campus and will be engaging with further software enhancements to allow a freer flowing experience between VR and reality. This will be a huge benefit for current and potential students who have not had the chance to physically tour the campus.

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Challenge

At the outset of the project the organization had no formal mobile device program. As they began planning their device deployment workflow, storage of the VR headsets was an immediate concern. Initially, they attached the devices to a mobile tool trolley; however, they quickly realized the importance of charging and mobility to meet their needs. Because the headsets would travel to different campuses, secure transportation was key to meeting the high demand for training across the state.

Solution

TAFE SA originally enquired about the Revolution 16 Cart and Carrier 30 Cart, ultimately choosing the Carrier 30 Cart because of its durability, portability, and open-concept design. By removing all but one of the device Baskets, it’s possible to charge, store, secure and transport 10 headsets per Cart, with one Large Basket to house all of the accessories for those 10 devices.

Quality is a top priority for TAFE SA, which is apparent by their state-of-the-art facilities and their diligence in planning and deploying the VR headsets. This is just one of the reasons TAFE SA chose PC Locs as their storage and charging supplier for their VR headsets.

VR in Education

VR is a new and expanding technology in education. According to TAFE SA; anecdotal evidence suggests that the use of VR in the classroom increases a student’s ability to retain information by 60-70%. VR technology also allows students training in hazardous jobs to perform tasks without exposure to hazardous high-risk environments. Furthermore, mobility of technology provides accessibility to world-class facilities and training for remote students without the burden of traveling or relocating.

TAFE SA’s hands-on approach with VR technology is also transferable to rehabilitation clinics, other education providers, and the workplace. VR is transforming education, and it’s only a matter of time before pilot trials such as the one at TAFE SA will begin to trickle into different sectors.

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Equipping Students with Mobile Devices Sometimes Takes a Change of Cart

Background

Chesterfield County Public Schools is an award-winning school system in central Virginia. Over the past several years, like many other districts around the country, they’ve been working to upgrade their classrooms with 1:1 technology initiatives.

With device take-home programs in their middle schools and high schools, they hadn’t experienced much of a need for a central storage and distribution solution. However, a few years ago as they began introducing Chromebooks for elementary students in grades 2-6, that quickly changed. Their system of 58,000 students includes 38 elementary schools, which makes any mobile device deployment a very big undertaking.

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Challenge

The district’s IT team knew carts would be an important part of the equation. Initially, they were drawn to LocknCharge Carrier Carts, designed for classroom Chromebook storage. Though solidly designed, and easy to maneuver, the Carrier was not the right fit. Literally. The top-sliding lid was not getting used as a work surface, so was instead just getting in the way in small classroom spaces. They went looking for a cart with a smaller footprint.

After some research, the team was drawn to another manufacturer’s cart that offered the lure of easy wiring. Each slot had a one-foot dongle for attaching multiple device types to the same power source. Then, when tips of chargers became damaged – as they inevitably do – the tech team would only have to replace that dongle, leaving the rest of the cord untouched in the backside of the cart. Sounds great, right? One problem: USB-C standards were updated and the carts were not – they were blowing up system boards. So the search for the perfect carts continued.

Solution

After firsthand experience with a variety of different makes and models, the IT department knew exactly what they were looking for. They found it with LocknCharge Joey Carts. Available in 30 or 40 device capacities with signature LocknCharge quality, the Joey had been newly redesigned in response to the evolving needs of classrooms just like those of Chesterfield County.

Smaller Footprint

Both sides of the double-door lid fold all the way down when open to give 360° access to the top-loading cart. It’s simple, but makes a big difference in a crowded classroom.

Easy to Wire & Manage Cables

Chesterfield County’s techs found the new “tool box” design of the Joey to have made for the easiest wiring of a charging cart they’ve experienced thus far. Its removable tray allows ultra-easy access to bricks, cords and cables. Side cable channels along with velcro straps keep cords neatly organized and prevent slipping and yanking so that you can maintain the ideal length of cable – no more, no less – for plugging devices in and out. 

Flexibility to Fit Multiple Device Types with Cases

Joey Carts come standard with Baskets by LocknCharge, but since their larger Chromebook cases required more room, Chesterfield County opted to swap the Baskets for device racks. Paired with the included stickers to label each slot, everything fits neatly in its place. 

Great Service

School Technology Coordinator Rick Mattes says, “service is key.” He’s had a great experience with LocknCharge – getting his questions answered, receiving product demos, and he appreciated the easy-to-follow setup video for wiring. The exceptional customer service is even matched with an exceptional lifetime warranty.

What's Next

Rick and the tech team began rolling out (no pun intended) their new Joey Carts right before the pandemic hit. With school shut down they’ve been spending this time unwiring old carts and wiring new ones. They are excited to be introducing 4,000 new Chromebooks for elementary school students in the coming year. And for all of the challenges this year has posed on teachers and students alike, having new technology and workflows that make life easier should be a very welcome surprise.

To download a PDF of this case study, click here.

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8 Solutions for Schools to Overcome 1:1 Device Challenges in the Face of COVID-19

As districts plan for prolonged closure, school officials are doing all that they can to ensure distance learning success. Getting devices into the hands of students at home has become a top priority. Los Angeles Public Schools alone is purchasing an estimated 150,000 take-home devices. While district officials in New York City have secured 300,000 new iPads.[1]

Even for schools with well-established 1:1 programs for devices in schools, the restrictions caused by the COVID-19 outbreak has added a new set of challenges to laptop and iPad distribution. If you're an educator with questions about how to safely distribute, charge, store, and secure devices and laptops, check out these eight tried-and-tested solutions.

[1] Coronavirus Squeezes Supply of Chromebooks, iPads, and Other Digital Learning Devices – Education Week

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1. How do we safely get laptops and tablets to new students joining the district?

The FUYL Tower 5 or 15 offers a zero-touch model for distribution of laptops and iPads to students in need of new devices, as well as staff and current students in need of replacements. You may even find that providing access to tablets and laptops with the following process is more efficient than the standard in-person method of distribution.

  • Choose an accessible area at your facility to place one or more FUYL Tower 5 or 15s. For multiple facilities, we recommend spreading out the Towers around your district. That way, no family is too far from a central location. These locations can even be a covered area outdoors, so no building access is necessary.
  • Stock the Tower with sanitized, ready-to-go devices. Each compartment is large enough to accommodate other new student required items as well, such as onboarding paperwork, books and school supply items.
  • When a student or faculty member needs a device, IT teams can schedule a pickup time and digitally send a 4-digit PIN code for access to an individual compartment of the FUYL Tower.
2. What if we need to service devices while students are learning at home?

Let's face it, kids can be tough on devices. Space bars break, microphones stop working and screens get cracked. When students and faculty have equipment at home that breaks or is lost, you need a way to get it back without putting your staff or parents at risk.

IT teams can easily retrieve a broken device and provide a replacement without any physical contact via a FUYL Tower. When Towers are spread throughout the district, no family has to drive farther than another, making this an equitable option.

3. How can we offer secure charging for those with housing insecurity?

Distance learning is impossible without access to power. By individually assigning FUYL Tower slots, students with housing insecurity know at any given time that they have a designated place to keep their device safe and secure while charging.

Many districts are finding creative ways to provide charging to economically disadvantaged students. Towers are being placed in family resource centers and other locations where students get free access.

4. What process can we use to retrieve devices from students before summer break?

Before the start of the new school year, you'll likely need to bring all of your devices back for sanitization and servicing. With our robust online management portal, IT admins can manage FUYL Towers remotely. After parents drop off devices at a scheduled time, staff can track the activity of the Tower to know when the compartment was accessed, reset PINs, open doors, or quarantine doors. Again, all done remotely without any physical contact.

Remember, compartments don't have to be limited to devices. If you're looking to clean out student lockers at the end of the year, you can put each student's belongings in a FUYL Tower slot and arrange for safe pickup.

5. What's the best way to store devices over the summer?

Don't be left scrambling when your district retrieves devices at the end of the school year as you try to figure out where you're going to store them all. 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.

6. What's the most efficient way to cable charging solutions once school resumes?

Managing cables for hundreds or more devices takes away valuable time from already strapped IT resources. Now that you're 1:1, it's a great time to consider a more efficient way and kiss those tangled cords goodbye.

With our clean cable management system, it takes a fraction of the time to cable and uncable devices from our carts compared to our competitors' carts. Nikki Burrell, LocknCharge Senior Customer Success Manager, once held a contest with our partner representatives to stop by and see who was the fastest at cabling a Carrier 10 Charging Station. She exclaimed, "It got crazy competitive, and the times were astounding – the fastest time was less than 2 minutes!"

Josh Davis, Senior Director of Customer Engagement, finds wiring LocknCharge charging stations fast because of the easy access to bricks and cables. "Once you get the hang of it, a 15-unit charging station takes about 10 minutes, and the 32-unit station takes about 20 minutes. Which is generally half the time of our 30-unit carts. And our 30-unit carts can be set up in half the time of many competitors' carts around the same capacity."

7. How will we manage new devices once school resumes?

Limited resources are a challenge for every school, so it may seem logical to choose a charging cart or station based on price. What districts must keep in mind is how choosing the right charging solution now can have a significant impact on technology budgets and employees' time in the future.

Charging solutions will account for a significant portion of your mobile device budget. However, imagine the costs and time your district would save if you don't need to replace your charging solutions every time you roll out new mobile devices. LocknCharge has coined this concept as "future-proof charging." Future-proof charging solutions combine universal charging, open-concept designs and durable products to save schools significant time and money.

8. What if my school doesn't have enough room to store all of these new devices securely?

Now that you're 1:1, it's time to think about itty bitty footprint charging stations rather than bulky carts. With the optional pedestal for the Putnam 18-C Tower, you can charge, store and secure up to 36 Chromebook, small laptop or tablet devices in two stacked charging stations. The tall, slim design of the Putnam 18-C Base is ultra-compact, saving valuable real estate in space-strapped areas.

In addition to saving space, you'll be investing in technology that modernizes your school's infrastructure without costly facility upgrades. Putnam 18-C Towers with ECO Safe Charge eliminate the need for the added expense of installing new outlets because two stacked Towers rely on one single outlet plug.

LocknCharge is an exceptional resource to help you plan for the future and navigate the new world of distance learning. Our solutions can significantly reduce setup time and meet your district's flexibility and ease-of-use needs. Schedule a live video demo with a LocknCharge team member today to get a closer look at how our products can support your short-term needs as well as your long-term edTech goals.

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