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.

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

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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 device programs, the restrictions caused by the COVID-19 outbreak has added a new set of challenges. 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.

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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 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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5 Smart Investments for Your End-of-Year Budget

With the unknown economic impact of schools closing, it's more important than ever to invest in solutions that will enhance student learning outcomes, give a positive return on investment and increase efficiency. If your school has a strict "use it or lose it" policy, whereby all budgetary funds must be used by the last day of school, here are a few ideas for smart investments that will make the best use of limited resources.

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1. Future-Proof Technology

Most technology in schools is replaced every 3-5 years. Thinking bigger upfront can have a significant impact on technology budgets and employees' time in the future. Take a lesson from the 88% of schools that added unnecessary costs to their mobile device deployment by purchasing charging solutions that were not future-proof. Instead, invest in charging solutions that combine universal charging, open-concept designs and durable products.

"Future-proof" doesn't mean something will last forever, but that it will not quickly become obsolete. 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. Save significant time and money with a product that has continued value in the distant future because it will not need to be updated as mobile technology advances.

2. Low-Cost Solutions for Modernization

Millions of electronic devices are losing their charge throughout schools every day. The obvious solution is to plug those devices into an outlet when they're need of recharging. However, it's not likely that there's an available outlet for each student, not to mention one for teachers, aides and other support staff. In addition to outlets being hard to come by, they don't protect against breakage or theft.

Invest in technology that modernizes your school's infrastructure without costly facility upgrades. For example, the Putnam 18-C base charging station eliminates the need for the added expense of installing new outlets. 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 with one single outlet plug.

3. Security Improvements

Did you know that every lost mobile device can cost your organization $50,000 in lost productivity, downtime, support and management? A smart end-of-year budget investment is one that protects against data security breaches, costly device deployment setbacks and inefficient employee downtime.

Implementing durable, secure charging stations will protect devices and the data that's on them. Not to mention decrease costs. A centralized point of secure charging helps schools provide a repository for tablets and laptops, reducing breakage and loss as well as provide protection for data, so it doesn't fall into the wrong hands.

4. Time-Saving Tools

Whether you're talking textbooks or technology, chances are if you don't have a plan for distribution, your investment will sit unused and wasted. With limited educational resources, a smart investment also includes a strategy to deliver and disperse valuable tools and resources to the people who need them most. Ideally, your plan for distribution should support teachers by saving them valuable classroom time

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 spent by teachers in distributing devices, as well as the time spent by children queuing up to put them away. This means teaching can happen faster — saving over two weeks of instructional time per cart each year!

5. Teacher Training

Less than 17% of teachers believe that they receive adequate training and support when it comes to educational technologies.[i] Setting aside a portion of your budget for educating the educators is vital to ensure your edtech investments are worthwhile. Without training, your new technology initiative will fall short and not reach its full potential. The best support for teachers demonstrates tools which allow them to perform aspects of their jobs more effectively with technology than without it.

In these uncertain times, we're here to help. Our team remains committed to assisting you in minimizing disruption and maximizing your budget. We are fully stocked and ready to ship. If you're in the US, you can now buy from directly Amazon, check out our selection of products. Outside of the US, contact us for more information.

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Dear Absolutely Incredible Kids, We Think You’re Amazing

AIKD

There’s a day to honor mothers, and another to celebrate fathers, even turtles have their own holiday. Did you know that fabulous kids now have a special day to call their own? Absolutely Incredible Kids Day® is celebrated annually on the third Thursday in March. On this day, millions of people take the time to tell a young person what makes them spectacular. It doesn’t matter whether you are a teacher, parent, social worker, coach, or volunteer, the special kiddo in your life will appreciate it when you let them know why they’re so amazing. Here are just a few of the ways you can show your love and support through a simple act of kindness:

Writing a letter
Posting a picture or video on social media
Sending a text message
Sticking a note in their lunch box
Drawing a picture

It doesn’t matter how you do it, just that you do it! If you’re not sure where to start, check out our letter to the absolutely incredible kids in classrooms around the world. Or here’s where you can find writing tips, ideas, and examples from Camp Fire.

Here is our letter to the absolutely incredible kids out there:

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Sources

[i] The Story of Louis Braille – Paths to Literacy

[ii] Cellphone Medical Test Wins NPR's 'Big Idea' Contest – NPR

[iii] Provo student pays over $8 thousand of student lunch debt – ABC4

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