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Device Management for Schools: Take-Home Device Program Solutions

In recent years, many schools have focused on adopting technology at a rapid pace. The ambitious goal to connect students with the tech to help them succeed was accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, where it became a lifeline in facilitating remote education.

1-to-1 Device Program Stats for US Schools as of March 2021

%
Middle & High School
%
Elementary School

A March 2021 survey by the EdWeek Research Center found that 90 percent of US educators said there was at least one device for every middle and high schooler. An additional 84 percent of educators said the same about elementary school students. Needless to say, schools have invested “a lot” in mobile device programs over the last few years.

The Wake County School District in North Carolina is one example. The district was in the process of updating to a 1-to-1 model in which every student would have access to their own individual device, but the transition to remote learning in 2020 meant they quickly spent $48 million on new devices.

Today’s students have grown up with technology woven into all facets of their lives. In order to keep up with the continued demand for technology in the curriculum, it has now become standard practice for many schools to allow their students to take devices home for schoolwork.

At its surface, a 1-to-1 program is a great solution for schools across the board. After all, allowing students to take home school-owned devices ensures they have equitable access to their work and that they are always working with a device they are familiar with. When students are allowed to take school devices home, it helps bridge the gap between learning at school and learning at home. Nothing beats that, right?

However, teachers and other school administrators know that letting students take devices home also comes with challenges, too. Here we discuss those challenges as well as proven solutions to make 1-to-1 take-home models more efficient for students and less burdensome on school staff.

Challenge #1: Forgotten Devices

“I left my homework at home.” Prior to services like Google Classroom, those six words were the bane of almost every teacher’s existence. Now, imagine if you replaced “homework” with “curriculum.” Students who forget their device at home are not able to participate in lessons that require the use of a device – which puts them a day behind in classwork.

Let’s be honest, students are notoriously forgetful. And between calling Mom or Dad to deliver the device, and missing out on classwork, a forgotten device can be a serious distraction to students and teachers for an entire day.

Solution: Implement a Streamlined Device Loaner Program

Get a device back in the hands of the student faster – and save your tech teams serious time – by implementing an on-site device loaner program. By filling a secure FUYL Tower Smart Charging Locker with loaner devices at each school location, students can enter a 4-digit PIN or scan an RFID badge to check out a loaner device with minimal faculty oversight.

The only time taken from an IT member’s or a media specialist’s day is providing the PIN or RFID access. This process can be automated even further by integrating an external ticketing system with LocknCharge Cloud.

The best part of all? The student is able to get back to class – and back to learning – without missing a beat.

Challenge #2: Dead Devices

Remember those forgetful students we mentioned? They’re probably going to forget to charge their devices before coming to class, too. Similar to showing up with no device, a dead laptop or tablet has the same capacity to disrupt learning time.

“You don’t always think about charging as a problem until you see the things students do to charge their devices throughout the day,” said Kim Bannigan, a learning information systems coordinator at DeForest Area School District. “Kids were leaving devices wherever there was an open outlet. At one point, an outlet in the cafeteria was being used so frequently that it disrupted the lunch line.”

-Kim Bannigan, Administrator at DeForest Area School District in Wisconsin

 

With limited outlets in the classroom, cafeteria, or media center, students are probably going to play a game of limbo all day long – struggling to find an outlet, only to leave their devices unattended while charging.

Solution: Enable Secure Charging Locations for Students

Allow students to securely charge their devices on demand by installing a FUYL Tower Smart Locker in a public area of the school. By empowering students to securely charge their devices during the day, schools are teaching students to take ownership of their devices while decreasing the costs of their device programs.

Read these case studies to learn more about on-demand public charging in schools
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A “Textbook” Launch for Digital Textbooks at Vauban
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Empowering Students with Mobile Device Charging Stations for Public Charging at Deforest

Challenge: #3 Broken Devices

One of the top frustrations of IT staff is that they have more work than they're able to handle. Whether it be general software maintenance or broken hardware, it’s inevitable that student devices will need some kind of repair during the school year.

For tech teams and media specialists that are already strapped for resources, imagine the additional time that is wasted running around collecting broken devices. If 20% of devices go missing or are broken each year across multiple school locations, the burden can quickly compound.

Solution: Automate Your Break/Fix Program with a Smart Locker

Save your tech team serious time by implementing a smart charging locker to facilitate broken device exchanges. By designating a smart locker (such as the FUYL Tower) as a device repair drop point, school staff members no longer need to waste their valuable time tracking down and collecting broken devices.

Once a student reports that their device is in need of attention, a staff member can assign that student to a specific locker. Using an admin-defined PIN or an RFID card, the student can either drop their device in an empty slot or swap their broken device for a ready-to-use one. Once their device is fixed, they simply return to a smart charging locker to swap their loaner device for the original device.

BONUS FEATURE OF A SMART LOCKER FOR DEVICE MANAGEMENT IN SCHOOLS:

Admins can monitor and record activity of the Tower, which automates the need for extra human capital to track the whereabouts of a device at any given time. A Tower can automate manual tasks that once required human touch for a fraction of the cost.

Challenge #4: Summer Vacation

Summer vacation is just around the corner, and suddenly you’re scrambling, trying to figure out where you are going to store all these devices this summer. Plus, you’re having nightmares that tablets and laptops aren’t going to be charged when school starts back up. And on top of that, you’re already stressed about the chaos that will ensue when devices need to be redistributed at the beginning of the year.

Solution for Storage: Invest in an Open-Concept Charging Cart with Baskets

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 with ease.

In addition to mobile devices, open-concept carts can flex to accommodate robotics, 3D printers, VR goggles and more. Plus, as tablet and laptop technology in schools evolves, these types of universal charging stations will not become outdated.

Solution for Charging: Find a Charging Solution That Features ECO Safe Charge

Alright, so you’ve solved the issue of storage … now onto those dead batteries. Finding a spot to charge tens, hundreds or even thousands of devices at once can be daunting. It can also put serious strain on a school building’s electrical capabilities.

To efficiently charge greater numbers of devices while reducing the possibility of a general electrical overload to an outlet, power management inside of a charging cart is key. Features like “safe on/off”, “ECO Timer All” and “ECO Timer Cycle” are imperative to a smooth transition from summer to the first day of school. Click here for a quick guide to getting devices ready for the new school year.

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Solution for Distribution: Use Distribution Tools Such as Time-Saving Baskets

The final hurdle is redistribution of devices. The answer? Time-Saving Baskets and FUYL Tower Smart Lockers. Quickly and easily transport and distribute devices throughout your school with hand-held device baskets, designed so you can safely carry 5 devices in each hand. You can see how schools are using baskets to cut down on device distribution time here:

To seamlessly onboard teachers, or perhaps new students entering your district mid-year, use a FUYL Tower to deploy devices with far fewer headaches. Just place the towers in an accessible location, and stock them with a ready-to-go device in each bay. When a teacher or student needs a device, they’re assigned a tower bay and can access a device at their convenience. There’s no need to schedule pick-ups and drop-offs or even engage in face-to-face interaction, leaving your IT team more time to focus on other tasks.

Read this case study to learn more about using a Smart Locker for contactless device distribution in schools.

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