A School Visit from Michelle Obama Ends with the Biggest Surprise of the Year

Ellen DeGeneres is taking pointers from the man in red by making a list and checking it twice with her new holiday tradition: Ellen’s Greatest Night of Giveaways! For the three-night extravaganza, Ellen wanted to change people’s lives in a bigger way than the show ever imagined. She also wanted to inspire people to get in the spirit of giving this holiday season.

One life-changing giveaway featured former first lady Michelle Obama’s surprise visit to the Randle Highlands Elementary School in Washington, D.C. During the first episode, Mrs. Obama revealed plans for a new basketball court and presented the school with new Apple laptops, desktop computers, and enough iPads for every student. As the only globally exclusive provider of Apple charging station for multiple devices via charging carts and stations, the students and staff will also be using LocknCharge’s Apple exclusive charging carts. Our solutions are beloved by teachers and IT staff as they allow educators to spend less time deploying tech and more time doing what matters.

Watch the heartwarming feature, and you’re sure to be inspired by the joy Ellen and Mrs. Obama brought students of all ages at Randle Highlands Elementary:

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5 Tips to Guide Education Technology Investments

For nearly a decade, government spending on education has been falling. In the UK, new figures show schoolchildren are “paying the price for austerity,” with funding slashed by more than £7bn since 2011. In the US, public investment in K-12 schools has also declined dramatically in many states. For the 2017/2018 school year, 12 states have cut funding by seven percent or more compared with 2008.

Schools that have succeeded over the years despite budget challenges and cutbacks have a commitment to a singular vision—giving students the best education. All education spending should be tracked back to this vision, especially technology funding. With school budgets an ongoing issue, it’s critical to ensure that students benefit from every edtech investment. Follow these tips to determine if your school is making the best use of its technology funds.

Seek to Simplify

Teacher’s need tools that help streamline communication, make data collection quicker and increase their capacity to focus on individual students — all without additional effort. One significant benefit that technology gives teachers is the ability to personalize their lessons more easily. “Instead of carrying a group of students through the curriculum at the same speed, regardless of each individual student’s capacity, background, and engagement with each topic, new tools allow teachers to follow each student individually, and to approach lessons in a way that lets them help each one learn every topic in a comprehensive way,” writes Tomas Franceschein in Edu4.me.[1]

Invest in Sustainable, Scalable and Durable Technology

Avoid additional expenses by choosing solutions that can grow and adapt along with technological innovation. For example, while charging solutions may account for a significant portion of a school’s mobile device budget, your school will save time and costs if you don’t need to replace your charging solutions every time you roll out new mobile devices. We call this concept, “future-proof charging.” Future-proof charging solutions combine universal charging, open-concept designs and durable products to save schools money.

Calculate the Hidden Time Savings

How much is your staff’s time worth? By eliminating repetitive or mundane day-to-day duties, your teachers will get more control over how they use their class time and the knowledge that their time is valued. Research by Scholastic, Inc. shows that teachers spend up to 95 minutes per week grading papers and preparing classes. Apps and assessment software can reduce that time by automating the process of grading assignments.  Another time-saving tool is related to a solution for mobile device distribution. Baskets by LocknCharge allow teachers and students to quickly and safely distribute tablets or iPads, putting up to two weeks of class time back into the hands of teachers every year.

Don’t Neglect Your Infrastructure

To make the most out of your IT spend, work with technology service providers that will help guide the infrastructure needed to ensure a smooth technology deployment. Often infrastructure plays second fiddle to curriculum and budget, but in our experience, it plays a critical role in enabling a successful technology rollout.

Teach the Teachers

Studies reveal that teachers feel unprepared and want more training. An alarming 78% of US teachers surveyed by SAM Labs reported that they hadn’t received the training they need to teach with technology in the classroom.2 If we are going to give teachers extra responsibility for incorporating new technologies into their curriculum, we need to provide them with additional support. [2] Check out these three real-world ideas for effective practices to teach the teachers.

  • EdTech recommends, “Rather than demonstrating technology at offsite training sessions, let teachers try it themselves in their own classrooms, with appropriate support where needed.”[3]
  • Superintendent Darryl Adams of California championed a first-of-its-kind technology bond to fund iPads for each of the district’s students. Not only was a portion of the budget set aside for teacher training, but Adams claims the key was training teachers before the students received their devices.[4]
  • “Show, don’t tell,” recommends instructional tech director Monique Flickinger. “Our technology tech trainers create three-minute video podcasts that show teachers in action using the new technology at the front of their classrooms. We also include pictures of the lesson plan, rubrics and students’ work at the end and link it to the state standards so that new teachers can easily steal ideas.”[5]

Whether your school or business is deploying five mobile devices or 50,000 mobile devices, LocknCharge can help guide your investment to make sure you’re making the best use of your technology funds. Get in touch today!


[1] How Can Technology Help Empower Teachers – edu4me

[2] “Still? Most teachers feel unprepared to use technology in the classroom” – SAM Labs

[3] How stronger professional development can boost ed-tech success – EdTech

[4] Darryl Adams Got iPads, Wi-Fi for Every Student in High-Needs Calif. District –THE 74

[5] Ten Ideas for Teaching Teachers Technology – edutopia

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3 Creative School Districts Say “No” to the Status Quo

Time To Disrupt

From Henry Ford pioneering automotive mass production to Steve Jobs revolutionizing mobile technology, entrepreneurs are famous for disrupting the status quo. But they aren’t the only ones who understand that not settling for the standard approach can be the key to problem solving. Some educational organizations also transcend the status quo by integrating technology and education, hiring innovative people, encouraging creative thinking, and continually adapting. These three innovative school districts are proof that when educators shake up traditional models of distributing homework, deploying technology, and delivering curriculum, students succeed.

Using Curriculum to Guide Technology Deployment

As the Director of Instructional Technology for Putnam City Schools in Oklahoma, Charri Stratton understands the variety of challenges administrators face when it comes to integrating technology in the classroom. To tackle these challenges, Putnam City Schools puts curriculum at the forefront of its technology deployment. Stratton elaborates, “We thought about why we wanted to put iPads in the hands of kids, how that would affect their learning, and letting that guide us in our deployment.”

When assessing if technology can provide a better model to the practice of assigning traditional homework, they start by asking four questions:

  1. What is the quality of the assignments?
  2. What is the quality of the adult help that our students have at home?
  3. What was the quantity of homework?
  4. And finally, do we want to send home mobile devices?

They discovered that the answers differ for each grade level. While there are advantages of sending home smart classroom devices such as improving the speed of feedback, it was decided not to send the devices home for elementary and middle school students. As they go to 1-to-1 in Putnam City high schools, they will be revisiting this topic because homework looks very different at that level. “It’s the role of curriculum to make sure the device is used in a way that benefits students the most in the long run,” explains Stratton. “This approach allows us to make the best choices for our students based not only on our district’s finances, but also based on the curriculum and our student needs, and our students’ home lives.”

Learn more about how you can easily charge, store and secure 8 or 16 iPad devices with Putnam™ Charging Stations.

First-of-its-kind Funding Initiative Helps Prepare Students for Life after High School

As a recipient of the presidential Top 100 Innovative Superintendents award, Dr. Darryl Adams is known for developing ideas to disrupt not only the status quo but also a failing system. This former Superintendent of Coachella Valley Unified School District in California knew something had to be done to address the district’s low graduation rate and to better prepare students for college and future careers.

The challenge was to find a creative way to fund an investment in the future of Coachella Valley students in one of the poorest school districts in the United States. The first step was to champion a first-of-its-kind $42 million technology bond, which received overwhelming voter approval.

Next, a teacher training program was launched, and an iPad was handed out for each of the 18,000 students. But the initiative didn’t stop there. Since the superintendent wanted a 24/7 learning opportunity, a creative solution was required because less than half of the students had internet connection at home. So he installed Wi-Fi on school buses so the kids could get online while going home or traveling to athletic events. Lastly, he arranged to park the buses in high-density areas in the evening — throughout the district’s 1,250 square miles — to keep connectivity live until late into the night.

Watch the video on how one of the poorest districts in the United States leveraged LocknCharge EVO 40 iPad Cart to deploy over 20,000 iPad devices.

A New Approach Prepares Students for a Changing Workforce

Working in collaboration with the community, local industry, and the Colorado Workforce Development Council, the Cherry Creek School District set out to expand the career and technical programs that were available to students at the district’s seven high schools. In a country where the majority of high schools are focused on getting students ready for a four-year degree, the new Cherry Creek Innovation Campus (CCIC) opened its doors in 2019 to not just prepare students for a degree but also a career.

According to the CCIC website, it is a stand-alone college and career preparedness facility accessible for high school students in the Cherry Creek School District. Courses at the CCIC align with the industry standards for seven in-demand and growing career Pathways: Advanced Manufacturing, Business Services, Health & Wellness, Hospitality & Tourism, Infrastructure Engineering, IT & STEAM, and Transportation.

With a curriculum rooted in real-world skills and trade certifications, instructors believe they have everything they need to prepare students for the 21st-century economy. “From the first day of planning, we worked alongside industry partners to develop curriculum and instruction for every pathway. Because of this intentional collaboration, students are immersed in experiences based on industry expectations and real-world applications,” CCSD’s Assistant Superintendent of Career and Innovation, Sarah Grobbel said in a recent spaces4learning article.

Read more about how the Cherry Creek Innovation Campus opens new directions for students whose post-high school plans include college, military, or entering the workforce right away.

Share your Story

Do you know an educator whose initiatives transcend the status quo? To share their story, just leave us a reply in the comments below!

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Our Community, Our Family

Through our partnerships, volunteer programs and donation efforts, we are committed to making a positive impact where we live and work. Every year, LocknCharge partners with nonprofits while promoting volunteer time off for our employees. Here are four ways we gave back to our communities in 2019 through innovative programs that strengthen the communities that have supported us.

Clearing the Lists

A recent Department of Education survey found that around 94% of public-school teachers spend their own money on much-needed supplies due to nationwide K-12 funding cuts.[1] Come back-to-school time, as teachers prepare for the year ahead, they find themselves in need of everything from chalk to science materials. That’s why one elementary school teacher in Texas created #ClearTheLists, a social media campaign intended to raise the visibility of educator’s classroom wishlists. Knowing that every little bit helps, LocknCharge donated much-needed gifts that give back, including science and technology-related educational items impacting a total of seventeen schools in Wisconsin and Texas. We were overwhelmed by the response, especially when we received this heartfelt message from Mrs. Richards, a third-grade teacher in Wisconsin.

Adopting a School, so it Shines Brighter

The Foundation for Madison’s Public Schools offers a program to take our passion for education beyond local teachers and classroom supplies. We take great pride in the opportunity we’ve been given to help an entire school shine a little brighter with our Sennett Middle School Adopt-a-School partnership.

One of the rewarding ways LocknCharge engages with its adopted school is through a program called the “Principal Experience.” All schools rely on local expertise and the community coming together to meet the needs of students. The “Principal Experience” gives community members a look inside Madison schools by shadowing a principal for a morning and discussing what they saw and learned over lunch with their fellow “principal partners.” LocknCharge Channel Manager Kyle Jacobson volunteered to experience what it's like to be the principal of Sennett. “This school setting is a lot different than I remember school settings,” said Kyle. “it’s important to really see firsthand what life is like there.”

Here are just a few other examples of how LocknCharge gives a boost to the Sennett Stars:

  • When the school’s fabulous IT department needed a place to meet during the summer, we were happy to host at our corporate headquarters in Madison.
  • We worked the concession stand at the CrossFit Games to raise money for the 8th grade camping trip and to help Sennett with its outdoor activity and playground fund.
  • Our staff volunteers have been known to brave the heat to help alphabetize all of the 7th and 8th grade Chromebooks finishing in an hour what would have normally taken all day.
  • You could find us as math tutors, helping students be the best they can be.
  • Catch us volunteering for the ultimate frisbee club.
  • You can spy on us helping with grounds care out of the school’s front bushes to keep Sennett looking spiffy!
  • We have donated breakfast to all the staff working during parent teacher conferences, making home baked muffins, danishes and more.
  • In January, we will be hosting 15 students who will be selected through an application process to show them what business looks like in a real office.
Running for Her

Our staff is an active bunch, so making a difference while also experiencing the benefits of exercise is a win-win. In 2019, LocknCharge again sponsored the Aruna Run helping to cover race expenses so that one-hundred percent of participant registration fees and donations would go to free, empower, and employ sexually enslaved women. Experts estimate that millions of people, predominantly women and children, are victims of sex trafficking in India alone. The Aruna Project is designed to catalyze freedom by their empowerment through employment model. They envision a day when every young woman is free to choose her own adventure.

Not only did LocknCharge help host the Madison Aruna Run 2019, several LocknCharge team members also participated in the 5k at Brittingham Park. By running or walking in an Aruna Race, they each ran for a specific enslaved woman by name, like Neha.

LocknCharge Team at Running For Her event
Championing Innovation

As Madison’s Most Innovative Company in 2018, we’re committed to assisting other local visionaries. It’s vital for us to promote and engage with fellow businesses that are making a difference in our community. That’s why we jumped at the chance to return to the scene of our win as a 2019 Hub sponsor of the sponsor Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce neXXpo event.

Attendees walked through seven “innovation hubs” made up of five creative, cutting-edge businesses competing for their votes. Meal kit service and farm-to-table deli and catering company Pasture & Plenty exhibited their commitment to making high quality, all-natural, plant-based or pasture-raised foods. They were rewarded as one of seven finalists selected to present at the Chamber’s Nex7 Stage event.

After a decade of giving back, we’re just getting started working on a better tomorrow. We can’t wait to share our community initiatives for 2020 and beyond!


[1] Teachers in the US are spending $500 of their own money – Business Insider

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Smart Lockers Reduce Parent Concerns about School-Issued Devices at Home

Take home device programs in schools can provide students tremendous benefits–but while students are the ones using the device, parents are ultimately responsible for replacing it when it’s misplaced or damaged. That’s why a successful take-home program must have parental involvement and buy-in. Despite common concerns that parents have about school-issued devices in the home, often times there is no alternative option. For parents who would prefer their child did not bring home their school-issued tablet, a smart locker rental program can provide benefits to the school and its students.

Child next to broken smart device

The Case for Leaving Devices at School

If you've ever arrived home from picking up your child at the end of the day only to realize they've forgotten something, you're certainly not alone. Lunchboxes, reusable water bottles, even single shoes somehow get left behind in the pandemonium that ensues when the last bell rings. Some parents are more acquainted with the school secretary who manages the lost and found than their child’s teacher.

While you can make do with a missing lunchbox, it's not so easy to go without a tablet or laptop these days. By leaving the device at school, parents can lessen the chance that devices are misplaced. That’s just one of the many benefits to leaving school-issued devices and BYOD’s overnight on campus. Here are a few others:

  • Save $2.8 billion. That’s the number of dollars that electronic devices damaged by kids cost families in a five-year period.[1] Studies show that electronic devices tend to break when kids are using them. When devices are left at school, they’re not as likely to get crushed in a backpack or dropped on the ground when your child is running for the bus.
  • Curb device chauffeuring. As we already mentioned, students are notorious for being forgetful. Most parents would rather avoid taking time off work than to deliver a device forgotten at home.
  • Improve quality screen time. There’s a reason why they’ve been labeled as screenagers. According to a Pew Research Center study, 65% of parents worry about their teen spending too much time in front of screens.[2] Leaving devices at school is one tactic for parents to limit when and how often kids can go online.
  • Limit unsupervised device activity. Even though schools put firewalls in place, parents are sometimes worried about kids going to inappropriate websites on the bus before school, during after school activities, or while unsupervised at home.
Schools and Parents Benefit from Smart Lockers

While there are reasons for taking devices home, this scenario may not always be worth the challenges it brings. One solution to ease parental concern is to give students the option of leaving devices in smart lockers with individually lockable compartments. By implementing a FUYL Tower 15™ Charging Locker in the media center or communal area at school, parents can take advantage of secure overnight classroom charging stations while schools can also benefit:

  • Reduce interrupted learning time. Students who leave their device at home or misplace them are not able to participate in lessons—which puts them a day behind in classwork.
  • Reduce device loss. Schools that do not provide secure charging can see more than 10% of devices becoming broken or going missing each year.
  • Eliminate dreaded device dead time. Similar to showing up with no device, uncharged laptops and tablets have the same capacity to disrupt learning time. By empowering students to charge their devices securely at night, schools ensure they’re ready to go when the school day begins.
Rental Program Lessons Financial Impact

With increasingly tight budgets, educational institutions are often looking for innovative ways to invest in the digital classroom. One creative way to deploy a school charging station or smart locker solution and lessen the financial impact on schools is to roll out a rental program. Check out these steps for rental program implementation:

  1. The school or district supplies smart lockers with individually lockable compartments in communal areas. Each locker will keep up to 15 phones, tablets, and laptops fully charged and secure.
  2. Parents prepay the school to rent out a locker compartment for the entire year.
  3. Students are able to access their individual charging locker compartment via a 4-digit PIN.
  4. A curfew allows administrators to set time and days where the Tower cannot be accessed by students.
  5. Innovative management software allows administrators to remotely open any compartment door, deny access to a reserved locker, receive alerts of abnormal usage, and download a full audit log.
  6. Lockers don’t just keep devices safe, they are equipped with power outlet and USB port to charge iPads, tablets, laptops, mobile phones, Chromebooks and more.
  7. In addition to physical security, the embedded computer of the charging locker automatically applies security software updates as they become available. This feature ensures that for towers connected to a network, security software is up to date and more prepared against cyberattacks.

The best part of all? By charging each student a nominal monthly fee for access to a lockable compartment, FUYL Tower 15™ charging lockers pay for themselves in just a couple of school years.

If you have questions about implementing a smart locker rental program in your school, we’re only a phone call or email away. Get in touch with LocknCharge.


[1] https://www.huffpost.com/entry/electronic-devices-damaged-by-kids_n_3862321

[2] https://www.pewresearch.org/internet/2018/08/22/how-teens-and-parents-navigate-screen-time-and-device-distractions/pi_2018-08-22_teens-screentime_0-08/

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