A son takes a cue from his teacher father and helps classrooms in real ways.
INTERVIEW | by Victor Rivero
Australian educator Paul Symons founded LocknCharge in 1999 when he noticed a need for securing laptops and devices in his school. He started by building security leashes and chain kits in his back yard in his spare time and installing them in a few schools throughout Australia. After successfully deterring theft, word spread throughout the country and demand for his products grew to the point where he left his teaching job to fully commit to LocknCharge. Expanding to the U.S. in 2010, thousands of schools and organizations have now experienced the difference that his company brings to the market: responsive customer service, innovative and high-quality design and Baskets by LocknCharge. Here, Paul’s son James (pictured, above), CEO at LocknCharge, shares his passion for making a difference in the lives of students and teachers.
What led you to starting LocknCharge from your garage in Australia?
James: My father, Paul Symons started LocknCharge in his shed because, as an educator who had devices deployed in his school, he saw devices being stolen. He came up with a simplistic, effective solution to secure devices that eventually other educators and principals throughout Australia wanted to purchase as well.
One of the most pressing issues facing the modern classroom is time.
Why did you decide to bring LocknCharge to the United States?
James: After seeing the success of LocknCharge in Australia, we realized that schools in the United States were likely just as hungry for a solution that was created with educators in mind. We came to the US at ISTE 2010.
What do you see as the most pressing issues facing the modern classroom?
James: One of the most pressing issues facing the modern classroom is time. They’re being asked to integrate technology, cover more content, and complete more testing, with no greater amount of time. We are very cognizant of this when designing our products, and this has resulted in the development of our solutions like Baskets by LocknCharge. Our top-loading Carts with Baskets can save up to 70 hours of instruction time per 30 unit cart because compared to cabinet-style carts, there is no bottle neck of students disrupting class.
How has LocknCharge adapted to the American education market and the needs of the classrooms?
James: One of the things that has been adapted is the size of products and the quantity of devices held in each unit. Each global market has a slightly different way of structuring their classrooms, from class sizes to actual classroom size. We now have a wider range of solutions to accommodate almost any class size or footprint. We have also partnered with key American school districts to develop custom solutions that specifically meet their space and class size needs – like the Carrier 15 for Denton ISD in Texas.
What are your company’s plans for the future?
James: As the technology used within education evolves, our solutions will evolve as well. Just as the devices used 5 years ago within schools are not the same mix we see today, we anticipate that 5 years from now there will be a dramatically different landscape of devices that all need to be charged and secured in an efficient manner.
What do you see as the state of education in the U.S. today? How about the world?
James: I think what comes to mind first is that the state of education in America, and throughout the world, is exciting. Classrooms are experiencing a rapid evolution of the way educators teach our youth, and the tools and resources available to them are unlike anything we’ve seen before. This can be intimidating to some, but overall it is exciting to see how districts and schools throughout the world embrace these new technologies and methodologies to reinvent what classrooms and education look like.
Districts that ultimately see success with technology deployments are those that re-think and engage their educators in revitalizing their curriculum.
What do you see as technology’s role in education?
James: I believe that technology’s role in education is to enable educators to rethink the way they teach students. More than just replacing pencil and paper, it serves as a vehicle to transform curriculum and engage every student on a personalized level.
What makes you say that?
James: We’ve seen this in deployment after deployment – if schools just deploy devices to replace their textbooks or computer rooms without revamping the curriculum and training for their staff they are not successful. Districts that ultimately see success with technology deployments are those that re-think and engage their educators in revitalizing their curriculum.
What advice do you have for someone just starting out in a business that contributes to the betterment of education?
James: The best advice I can provide to someone is to talk with and listen to your customers – frequently. Get to know their pain points and develop solutions with ultimately solve those pains and you will be successful.
How vital is it to survey, listen, synthesize, and really respond to what is needed and wanted from those you would serve?
James: As I mentioned, it is critical to listen to and respond to those you serve. It changes the relationship from a vendor to customer relationship to a true partnership – solving problems together.