The past few years have tested many school districts like never before, but within what sometimes seemed like chaos, opportunities emerged. Both remote learning programs and mobile device programs skyrocketed, and along with them, the need for secure, reliable mobile device charging stations.
Schools quickly learned that there are many options for deploying mobile devices—and that each model comes with its own set of device management challenges. Choosing what makes the most sense for your district can be hard.
Do you want to give every student a digital device to take home? Provide students with devices that stay in each classroom? Distribute mobile devices to students through a shared cart approach? Or let students bring their own devices from home?
The way you store, charge and manage devices will depend on the model you choose for deploying mobile devices to students. Read on to learn the pros and cons of the best mobile device charging stations for schools.
1:1 Programs - Devices Stay in the Classroom
Benefits: This model creates consistency and uniformity, making it easier for IT staff to support the devices. Because everyone is using the same type of device with the same platform, teachers know that whatever apps they use will work on students’ devices. And since the devices remain at school, teachers don’t have to worry about students leaving their devices at home or forgetting to charge them. It’s also the smartest investment for schools on a tight budget.
Challenges: When students leave devices at school, they’re not able to use them for homework. This type of program also doesn't allow for distance learning, should schools ever close again in the future.
Best Mobile Device Charging Stations
Because devices don’t need to be moved from one classroom to another in a full 1:1 environment, a wall charging station is a fitting option. These units take up less space and typically cost less than a cart, leaving more money to spend on other tech tools.
When you’re distributing devices to students at the start of class each day, time is at a premium. The best charging stations for schools make this process much easier and more efficient, which saves valuable class time for instruction. That’s why we created the unique basket design of our Carrier 10 and 15 and iQ 10 charging stations.
Another option is the Putnam 8 or 16. While these aren’t basket-compatible, they are perfect for 1:1 “stay at school” programs that use tablets. As an added bonus, the station’s external LED display makes it easy to know if all devices have been put away at the end of the day, and they come pre-wired with MFI-approved lightning cables, making setup a breeze.
1:1 Programs - Students Take Devices Home
Benefits: Letting students take school-owned devices home creates a “classroom without walls,” enabling 24-7 learning. It also addresses the digital divide and the so-called “homework gap,” ensuring that all students have equitable access to learning opportunities and their teachers.
Challenges: Besides the obvious funding hurdles, take-home 1:1 programs come with an increased risk of devices being damaged, lost or stolen. It can be harder for schools to manage the devices, as students might be downloading apps or using devices in unintended ways. What’s more, students might forget to charge their device or forget to bring their device altogether. Another challenge that often comes up is how to store and charge devices over the summer when all of the devices are returned to school.
Best Mobile Device Charging Stations
An excellent solution is the FUYL Tower, which includes 5 or 15 individually-lockable compartments that can store and charge any mobile device. Many schools are placing FUYL Towers in common spaces or media centers so that students can securely charge their devices between classes, during classes that don’t require the use of a mobile device or during lunch. The individually lockable compartments work like a hotel safe, creating less work for educators because students can manage their devices at school without any assistance.
Some schools are also using FUYL Towers for device “loaner” programs or break/fix programs. In these scenarios, they’re fully stocking a Tower with extra devices so that if a device is broken, or if a student forgets to bring his device from home, the student can be given a PIN to retrieve a loaner device without IT staff having to intervene. They have also been extremely useful in distributing devices to students or teachers during distance learning.
Another option is to install secure charging stations for schools to help make sure a dead battery doesn’t disrupt learning. The Carrier Charging Station or iQ Charging Station can be easily mounted to a wall in a library or classroom, and both take up only minimal space.
Shared Device Environments
Benefits: Having classrooms share devices allows schools to keep costs down and extend their resources further. A shared-use environment can be much less expensive than a full 1:1 program, and with fewer devices to support, IT staff aren’t as stretched thin. Shared carts are also great for specialized or expensive equipment, like the devices used for STEM or gaming programs.
Challenges: Teachers have to schedule their use of carts and mobile device charging stations, and students won’t have daily access to the devices for learning. These factors may discourage teachers from using technology for instruction. In addition, the apps that students use for learning will vary from one classroom to the next, so teachers will need an easy way to set up and customize shared devices for their students.
Best Mobile Device Charging Stations
Our Carrier Charging Carts and Joey Charging Carts easily travel from classroom to classroom, and they include our innovative device distribution baskets. These baskets, along with the top-loading design of the carts, cut the time it takes to distribute and collect devices in half. What’s more, teachers can use the baskets themselves to transport devices between classrooms safely and efficiently, or they can enlist the help of students.
Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) Programs
Benefits: BYOD programs are the least expensive way to use technology for teaching and learning because schools can leverage the devices students already own. What’s more, students are already comfortable with their own device, so there’s no learning curve associated with the technology.
Challenges: Teaching in a mixed-device environment can be difficult. Teachers have to make sure the learning materials they use are accessible across a wide range of platforms. There is more potential for distraction because devices contain personal apps, and variations in the age, speed, and processing power of devices—or a lack of resources to purchase their own device at all—could lead to inequities in how students learn.
Best Mobile Device Charging Stations
Even though students are bringing their own devices from home, you’ll still need secure charging stations for schools. A solution that can store and charge a wide variety of device types—such as the FUYL Tower Smart Locker, which contains 5 or 15 individually-lockable compartments—is ideal.
Students will find any outlet they can to charge their devices during the school day, often leaving them unattended. FUYL Towers significantly cut back on missing or stolen devices because students don’t have to leave their device out in the open while charging. FUYL Towers are also extremely flexible. They have two modes, which allows you to facilitate a break/fix program or loaner device program as well as public charging.
While the best mobile device charging stations, charging carts and smart lockers for your school or district depends on the type of program you implement, LocknCharge has a variety of solutions to fit all needs. Contact us today and we’ll work with you to find your perfect charging solution.
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A smart locker combines locker hardware with a powerful cloud-based software platform, together allowing organizations to control who can access the locker and at what time. A smart locker can automate the exchange of physical assets without the need for human interaction. Software allows administrators to remotely control access to individual locker bays and track all events happening at the physical smart locker.
There are a variety of smart lockers on the market that vary in size, shape, capacity and purpose. They are powered by software that differs in sophistication, depending on the use case.
The main types of smart lockers are:
- Smart charging lockers
- Day-use lockers
- Vending lockers
- Food service pick-up lockers
- Parcel lockers
- Asset distribution and tracking lockers
A smart charging locker is used primarily to automate distribution and/or collection of mobile devices such as phones, laptops, Chromebooks, tablets or iPads. Charging ports inside individually-lockable bays ensure devices are always charged and ready to go.
Organizations implement smart charging lockers for several reasons: to streamline broken device exchanges, to simplify daily device checkouts or to offer secure public charging on demand. Smart charging lockers ensure devices are always accessible, charged and ready for employees, students or customers who need devices to work or learn.
Smart lockers work by connecting hardware and cloud-based software to provide convenient access to assets inside the locker without meeting in person.
Here's how a smart locker works for broken or lost device exchanges:
- Smart locker is stocked with loaner devices
- User breaks or loses their device
- User contacts appropriate party (typically the IT team) and waits for response
- IT checks locker stock remotely; contacts user with instructions to access the locker
- User goes to locker any time, opens specific door with admin-assigned PIN or RFID
- User takes loaner, leaves broken device; Cloud records transaction
- If device needs to be swapped once fixed, IT contacts user
- User collects fixed device any time at same location
- Cloud records transaction so the Admin can see activity happening at the locker
Here's how a smart locker works for check in/out or shared device programs:
- IT team sets up users in the cloud portal and assigns users access to groups of lockers, individual lockers or even specific bays
- User selects assigned locker bay, opens door with assigned RFID/PIN
- User takes charged loaner device
- When finished, user returns device to same bay; if device is shared with another user, it's ready for next person
- Admin can see device has been returned via Cloud or via other ticketing system integration
Here's how a smart locker works for secure public charging on demand:
- User identifies an empty smart locker bay and enters bay number on the locker keypad
- User swipes RFID badge or creates a PIN to open selected door
- User places device inside bay and plugs in device
- User closes the door to lock it
- Device is securely charging
- User repeats process when ready to retrieve device
- Locker usage is recorded in the Cloud
Smart lockers can be used in different modes to streamline user access:
For assigned access, remote admins set up users in the cloud portal and designate who they want to access a specific locker or bay at any given time. Once the bay has been opened, the remote admin can view who accessed the bay via the cloud software portal.
Periodical (Daily/Weekly) Use
Employees such as shift workers, field crews or substitute teachers can easily access specific Towers or bays to check out assets needed on a regular (daily, weekly, etc.) basis.
A smart locker can be used to swap assets, like mobile devices, through an automated process on an as-needed basis. This may include triaging broken, lost or stolen device issues that need to be addressed quickly.
Unassigned, On-Demand Access
For public, on-demand access, a smart locker is a secure and convenient place to store personal belongings such as mobile devices.
The user simply identifies an available bay and tucks their items inside. They can reserve the bay by following prompts on the locker display to create a user-defined PIN or by presenting an RFID card.
Once they close the door, their items are secure and charging until they retrieve their items using the same PIN or RFID.
Public usage is tracked in the cloud for remote admins to monitor as needed.
Organizations install smart charging lockers to combat the following problems:
- Wasted time of skilled staff doing entry-level tasks such as delivering, tracking and managing broken or lost devices.
- Inability to work or learn while device users wait for a loaner device or wait to check out a device.
- Unorganized processes and delayed work caused by devices that are not readily accessible nor ready for use.
- Lack of accountability for devices that are mistreated during use or are not properly returned after use.
- Increased theft and data breaches for devices that are not physically secured after use.
A smart locker can be used to save an organization significant time and money by automating cumbersome tasks that would normally require scheduled meetings between multiple people.
Why would an employee, teacher or student use a smart locker?
Smart charging lockers can minimize device downtime by ensuring convenient, around-the-clock access to mission-critical tech.
Broken, lost or stolen devices can bring about serious working and learning disruptions, causing employees or students to fall behind.
Employees (such as shift workers, field crews or substitute teachers) who need access to a charged, ready-to-go device rely on an efficient check-out process to start their day.
Why would a department manager or tech professional use a smart locker?
A smart charging locker can automate the delivery and tracking of assets. Rather than being interrupted by broken, forgotten or lost mobile devices–managers or teachers can stay focused on more important work.
The cloud software that powers the locker can track locker usage for "who, what and when", adding a layer of accountability to ensure devices are cared for during use and returned after use. Accountability reduces breakage and device loss.
Smart lockers can mitigate theft of loss of devices, protecting organizations from costly data breaches.
With the influx of mobile devices in schools and businesses, tech teams are becoming overwhelmed with daily device management. It can be difficult to find adequate talent to fill necessary IT roles. Smart lockers can help bridge the IT labor market shortage by eliminating lower-level tasks that would otherwise be laborious to complete.
Smart locker costs start as low as $1,000 and go as high as $20,000+. The cost depends on many factors including available hardware features, features of the cloud software, and possible customization of hardware or software.
Organizations looking to facilitate broken device exchanges, manage loaner or daily device checkout programs or offer public charging on-demand often select a smart locker in the mid-range. These lockers typically offer a wide breadth of useful hardware and software features, open API to integrate with other external systems and provide regular cloud upgrades/updates.
When budgeting for a smart locker, consider the costs of your current process:
- Lost time or wages of staff managing the program
- Missed opportunities caused by device downtime
When comparing costs, narrow in on:
- Features you really need
- Longevity and long-term flexibility of the solution
- Total cost of ownership
- Quality and responsiveness of customer support
When evaluating a smart locker solution, here are some key features to consider.
Agile, In-House Software Development Team
Internal resources dedicated to consistent Cloud feature releases and enhancements ensure smart locker software will pivot to meet your tech program needs well into the future.
The cloud-based software should include features like Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) and Single Sign-On to protect your organization’s data. Quality locker construction will keep devices physically safe while stored inside a locker.
It is important that smart locker administrators can remotely control locker access (who, what, when) via a cloud-based portal. It is also important that lockers can be accessed locally via the locker display, so on-site staff can manage day-to-day usage as needed.
Choosing a smart locker that can work over Wi-Fi gives your organization flexibility to install the locker in the best possible location without investing in costly cabling infrastructure.
External System Integrations
Managing locker users and workflow with tools–such as external directory integrations, help desk software integrations, open API with no call limits, and web hooks–makes process automation endless.
Organizations choose LocknCharge as their smart charging lover for a variety of reasons.
LocknCharge’s FUYL Tower™ Smart locker is designed to solve pain points that organizations experience using and managing mobile device technology in day-to-day operations.
FUYL Tower can save valuable resources and time for staff and students. They maximize productivity by ensuring devices are accessible and ready-to-go when needed – and that they're secure when not in use.
Organizations looking to facilitate broken device exchanges, manage loaner or daily device checkout programs or offer public charging on-demand select LocknCharge for the wide breadth of critical hardware and software features, open API able to integrate with other external systems, consistent customer-centric cloud enhancements, superior product quality and exceptional customer support.
We are dedicated to making life easier for our customers.
Want to Learn More About Smart Lockers?
Everything You Need to Know About Smart Charging Lockers
Take a deep dive into this article about Smart Lockers to better understand their value, workflows, features and more.
Many organizations now provide one laptop, tablet, Chromebook or phone device for each employee, student, teacher and others.
Due to the sheer volume of devices now in circulation, highly-successful executives and managers who are responsible for managing these tech programs tell us they are frustrated by the following:
- Specialized IT staff are wasting valuable time on entry-level tasks such as delivering, tracking and managing broken or lost devices.
- Device users are unable to work/learn while they wait for a replacement device, putting them behind.
- Organizations are unable to acquire adequate talent to keep up with increased workload.
If any of these pain points sound familiar, the first step toward finding a solution is to quantify the problem at hand.
Calculate Lost Resources and Productivity for Manual Broken Device Exchanges
Calculate Lost Productivity for Check In/Out Device Programs
Many organizations also experience frustrations with managing devices that are checked out on both a short-term or long-term basis. Click the link below to calculate the productivity loss of your check in/out program.
Many organizations offer short-term or long-term mobile device check outs for employees, shift workers, field workers, students, teachers, substitute teachers, guests or others.
Highly-successful executives and managers who are responsible for managing these mobile device programs tell us they are frustrated by the following:
- Shared devices are not readily accessible nor reliably charged, delaying the day.
- Managers are forced to prioritize distributing and collecting devices over their primary operational roles.
- Device breakage and loss is significant for shared devices that are not secured or tracked.
- Data is exposed when devices are not securely stored, and MDM software is not enough.
If any of these pain points sound familiar, the first step toward finding a solution is to quantify the problem.
Calculate Lost Resources and Productivity for a Manual Check In/Out Device Workflow
Calculate Lost Productivity for Manual Broken Device Exchanges
Many organizations also experience frustrations with manual broken device exchanges. Click the link below to calculate the productivity loss of your manual break/fix workflow.
Mobile device management (MDM) is more critical to businesses than ever before. Mobile devices are convenient and affordable, making them a must-have for many organizations. But with the rise in mobile devices comes a rise in security risks. Having a strategy for this modern work environment is no longer an option, it’s a necessity.
According to Verizon’s recent Mobile Security Index report, 40% of respondents said that mobile devices are the biggest IT security threat, and over half categorized the consequences they suffered from a mobile-device-related security compromise as “major.” And cyberattacks on businesses have increased by 50% year over year.
The threat of intellectual property loss and reputational damage is real. But as the use of these devices skyrockets thanks to remote learning and working, the benefits of mobile device management can no longer be ignored. Here’s what organizations need to know.
What Is Mobile Device Management?
Mobile device management is an organization’s strategy to monitor and secure devices in order to reduce theft, loss and device misuse. Common MDM best practices include:
- Disk encryption
- Strong passwords and two-factor authentication
- Limited log-in time and automatic logout
- Use of anti-virus software
- Automatically blocking or disabling unapproved apps
- Keeping all device software up to date and performing regular backups
- Ability to wipe data remotely for lost or stolen devices
The best MDM strategies also include physical device management, such as keeping track of inventory, implementing secure check-in/check-out with smart lockers and providing training that keeps everyone on the same page. That’s how organizations can realize the biggest benefits of MDM.
Benefits of Mobile Device Management
A well-thought-out MDM strategy has plenty of benefits, including:
- Better security. Even if your organization doesn’t collect personal data that needs to be protected, mobile device management can also help keep intellectual property and other important information secure.
- Accountability. The ability to track who has which device at any given moment improves accountability and helps ensure devices are returned and charged properly.
- Application control. MDM means you can not only control which apps are on your devices, but also automate updates and sync devices to keep files and programs uniform.
- Lower costs. Over the long-term, all of these things result in one ultimate benefit for your organization: reduced costs due to fewer lost and stolen devices and improved efficiency.
Physical Device Security as Part of an MDM Strategy
Many businesses are taking steps such as incorporating up-to-date MDM security software. But software alone might no longer be enough. Physical security is also essential, which is why many organizations are turning to mobile device charging stations and smart lockers as a part of their MDM strategy.
Smart lockers are more than just a place to store a device. They can help protect your devices against security breaches and compromised data and can save time and resources spent tracking down, fixing and replacing devices. Their benefits include:
- Theft prevention. Devices can be locked and protected in an ultra-secure, high-quality smart locker to help prevent device theft. That can help mitigate your risk of a data breach and lower your costs for replacing stolen devices.
- Improved productivity. With power outlets and USB ports that can charge a variety of devices and let you know when they’re available for use, smart lockers help ensure that employees have access to fully charged devices for every shift.
- Reduced downtime. When devices are properly stored, charged and secured in smart lockers or charging stations, employees and students can self-service a replacement whenever they need one, reducing interruptions and downtime.
- Increased efficiency. Smart lockers or charging stations can help you automate processes for check in/out, break/fix, and shared or loaner devices, allowing skilled IT teams to focus on more important strategic projects and saving you labor costs.
How the FUYL Tower Helps Support MDM
Solutions like the FUYL Tower can support mobile device management. Your team can allow access to designated bays remotely, reducing the need for time-consuming face-to-face interactions and staying in step with the future of IT and operations. Plus our smart lockers offer benefits not matched by our competitors, like:
Quality materials and lifetime warranties. Our products are made with high-quality steel and most are backed by a lifetime warranty. Your devices will be protected today, tomorrow and well into the future.
- Feature-rich cloud platform with data protection. With the LocknCharge Cloud, you can store data in the cloud, which can be protected with industry-standard encryption certificates and regulated admin access.
- Future-proof flexibility. Easily switch modes thanks to Cloud connections that can flex to new workflows as tech advances and device management needs change.
- Unmatched customer support. Our local Customer Support Team will help solve any issue you may have with your smart lockers. Plus, a dedicated support website empowers you with valuable resources to troubleshoot commonly asked questions.