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.
20.04.17 in News
Denton Independent School District Invents Custom Charging Solution with LocknCharge
Texas district introduces custom-made mobile device charging stations for up to 20,000 devices as it restructures its classrooms to make them future ready
MADISON, Wis. (Feb. 7, 2017) – As Denton Independent School District (ISD) prepares for future ready classrooms with technology and builds new schools, the Texas district is partnering with LocknCharge to create a new mobile device charging cabinet – the Carrier 15 Charging Station.
“There were no solutions designed to fit the unique needs of Denton ISD,” said Judy Bush technology manager. “LocknCharge stepped in and constructed a new charging station to fit the vision of the curriculum and technology team to incorporate Chromebooks into classrooms.”
This customized solution will store, charge and deploy up to 20,000 devices in the school district.
“We are not a 1:1 district. When we looked to roll out new technology for our schools, we wanted to create collaborative learning environments,” said Dwight Goodwin, director of instructional technology at Denton ISD. “LocknCharge made our Chromebook rollout a success. Teachers, technology personnel, students and parents all love how much the custom stations simplify our use of technology.”
The Carrier 15 Charging Station is wall and desk mountable, and charges any 15 tablet or laptop devices simultaneously. It includes three large baskets to store and safely distribute technology. “When administrators at Denton ISD approached us and shared their plans for Chromebooks in the classroom, we knew we had to find a way to work with them,” said James Symons, CEO for LocknCharge. “We are proud to have worked with them to create a new product to fit their needs that will enable their educators to best utilize mobile devices in their classrooms.”
Denton ISD currently has 40 campuses to meet the needs of students in 17 different communities. Among these campuses are: four comprehensive high schools, seven middle schools (with an eighth opening in August), 23 elementary schools, two early childhood centers, a choice high school, an advanced technology complex and other specialized schools and centers.
Today’s teaching and learning activities require digital tools. Ensuring that all mobile devices are charged and ready to go for each day’s learning activities requires a systematic storage and charging solution. Does your district use best practices to ensure there is no down time for students and teachers?
19.01.17 in News
A tech coordinator’s perspective on disruption, re-design, and technology’s role in education.
GUEST COLUMN | by Paul Hieronymus
The modern classroom has undergone dramatic changes over the past few years. Technology has disrupted our notions of how we design our schools and best deliver our curriculum to our students. As the Coordinator of Technology and Communication at the Lakewood City Schools in Ohio, I experienced my school district respond to these changes firsthand.
In 2014, we adopted a 10-year plan that would see all of our schools either rebuilt or renovated to better educate and prepare our students. One of the major focuses of this $100 million remodel was the role that technology would play in our classrooms.
One of the major focuses of this $100 million remodel was the role that technology would play in our classrooms.
Instead of having computer labs where students would go to use technology, we wanted to bring devices directly into our classrooms. Our aim was to create a learning environment where the students could be collaborative while preparing for an increased emphasis on online testing. The remodeling included tearing down three of our seven elementary schools placing them in transitional buildings. Space was an issue in the locations making computer labs a challenge. To effortlessly move the devices around the temporary classrooms and schools, we introduced LocknCharge carts, which then followed us to the new buildings once they opened. We were so pleased with this model that we dismantled our old computer labs in our existing buildings and converted them to mobile labs using the carts.
The carts allowed our educators to move the devices into the temporary buildings and between classrooms during the construction process. Now that we are settled into our new buildings, the carts allow our educators to share devices between classrooms.
We introduced iPads in a 1:3 ratio for grades K-2 and then shifted the students to Chromebooks for grades 2-5 at the same ratio. Second grade is designed to be a buffer year for the students to transition from a tactical learning environment with the iPads to a keyboard-learning environment with the Chromebooks.
With the 1:3 ratio, students are more likely to collaborate as they share the devices, which is why we are not currently trying to establish a 1:1 ratio in our elementary schools. We want to avoid the devices becoming a worksheet on a screen where the students are doing the same things as before, but just on a screen. By combining the use of devices and doing assignments by hand with paper, our goal is to create a learning environment that closely resembles the real-world.
After the two years of construction, we were able to bring the technology into our new, modern classrooms with great success. Our staff and students have become comfortable with the use of the devices and the administration has seen interest in them over the course of the project from the staff, students and their parents.
Our school district consists of approximately 5,200 students from 32 countries with five percent of those students being refugees and eight percent being English language learners. The mobile devices have provided an extra benefit to those students as they can utilize Rosetta Stone and translate extension applications to have materials translated for them as well as translate questions and answers between them and the educators.
Our parents understand the relevance of technology in today’s world so we have seen great responses from them. The students are immersed in this world of technology already so it is important that we have adapted to meet this need. Younger students know that their exposure to technology is only going to increase because we shift to a 1:1 ratio in middle school and high school.
Our school district was presented with a rare opportunity to embrace emerging technology while revamping our classrooms. With mobile devices, we have been able to create mobile device-friendly learning environments that help us cater our instruction to our students’ needs and better prepare them for what’s ahead.
Learn how Como Primary School is leveraging the CarryOn for ultra-mobile charging of iPad devices.