As one of Madison's Most Innovative Companies, we continue to work hard to drive innovation into our community and around the world to help make life easier for schools, businesses and families. Not just through the work we do, but in our support and recognition of other innovators.
Innovation isn't just related to business. It's also something that educators strive to achieve. Thinking outside the box in education is about more than deploying cutting-edge educational technology. Learning in real-world environments, collaboration with the community, and rejecting social norms are also methods of innovation in education and the classroom.[i]
There are probably as many innovative ideas and strategies as there are schools. But creative learning centers with successful students seem to share a set of common characteristics in addition to daring to do what's never been done before. Within the most innovative schools:
- Students are put at the center of their learning, empowered to be co-creators of their school experience;
- Teachers are dedicated mentors supporting personalized learning experiences that meet individual student needs; and
- Both students and teachers are given the resources they need to transform ideas into realities
Here are eight of the most innovative schools around the globe that caught our attention, and we'd like to recognize each of them for their unique approaches to teaching and learning.
The foundation of the De VerWondering educational approach is based on its name, which translates to "a sense of wonder." This school wants students to learn by trying, experimenting, researching and asking questions. Skills such as problem-solving, social skills, collaboration, creativity, communication, information and communication technology (ICT) literacy and lifelong learning are given the same importance as reading and math.
An Ashoka Changemaker school, it has been identified for a strong focus on the possibilities that technological advancements in the classroom have to offer. "Students at De Verwondering learn by means of their personalized learning tracks and develop their social and emotional skills through value-based curricula and a strong sense of community. This school nurtures future leaders who will not only be able to manage themselves in an ever-changing world, but will do so with empathy."
Frenship ISD's mission is to educate and develop all students by providing a foundation to empower them to reach their maximum potential and realize their opportunity of choice. The district is known for putting students first, allowing them to reach their potential. Never has that been more true than during the COVID-19 crisis. Regardless of what the future holds in terms of accommodating remote learning, in-person classes when schools reopen or a blended learning model of the two, Frenship is ready.
- The Frenship ISD Technology Department has set up WiFi hotspot locations at different campuses for students without internet access. Students and staff can drive to a campus parking lot, stay in their vehicle, and connect to the WiFi, using their Frenship logins for faster internet connection.
- The district wisely invested in multiple FUYL Towers + Cloud. These cloud-based smart lockers pivot quickly and easily to support Break/Fix, Loaner Devices and On-Demand Charging for student and teacher devices regardless of the learning scenario.
Voted the Greenest School on Earth by the Centre for Green Schools, the Green School is a model for sustainability and a center for experimentation, innovation and solutions. Instead of seeing nature as a distraction, educators at this school believe that a constant connection to the environment has a positive effect on problem-solving and intelligence.
A 'living' curriculum educates for sustainability through community-integrated, entrepreneurial learning, in a wall-less natural environment. "We strive to champion a new model of education that nurtures the whole child, giving them agency in their own lives and learning, so that they can thrive with purpose."
This grammar school was awarded the 2017 delina Bitkom innovation prize for its digital education concept. The Bitkom jury was impressed by the way the school pivoted and revised its digital education program to meet the needs of students and teachers better.
To offer students a media education appropriate to the 21st century, Würselen has intensively dealt with the use of technology in the classroom. In 2008, they introduced "laptop classes." Due to conceptual errors, the project was unsuccessful. The issues were analyzed, and a new approach was taken, resulting in a fresh start with iPads rolled out in the 2015 school year. Along with the deployment of tablets, the learning process for each student was individualized. Also, the creation of an extensive range of help for teachers through regular in-house training courses has led to this program's award-winning success.
This institute has distinguished itself for its dedication to change and digitalization, for inventive teaching methods, and creativity. The classes disposed of student's chairs. In their place are mobile desks and a flexible, dynamic and collaborative learning environment.
As the first school to use the Oculus Rift virtual reality system, Majorana has put modern ideas and technology at the center of education. The school was also ahead of time in delivering lessons via streaming. According to Studenti, long before the recent lockdowns, students have been able to follow lessons in real-time from home. "But, if they wanted, they could also follow them in streaming, since the teachers record the video lessons and they attach them to virtual classes."
LIS dispels with the common idea of single-subject study at university. Instead, students learn how to combine knowledge through different disciplines to find solutions to real-world challenges and problems. "Learning doesn't fit into neat little boxes – and neither does life," argues school co-founder Ed Fidoe.[ii] "The world is more connected and complex than it's ever been and it requires people to think in systems rather than narrow silos."[iii]
This interdisciplinary program investigates shared problems with new ways of thinking and understanding. At LIS, students graduate feeling empowered to go out in the world and make an impact. Study is done through the lens of tackling problems such as malaria, childhood obesity, and the knife crime epidemic.
Founded in 2003, teachers at this network of public schools guide students through a self-directed learning cycle, using and technology to empower students to map their own journey. "At Summit, students unlock the power within themselves to gain the knowledge, habits, and skills to successfully navigate college and careers."
Educators at Summit Schools believe that every child is capable of college and career success, and focuses on real-world projects. The results speak for themselves with a 98% acceptance rate into a 4-year college and 2x the national average for college graduation.
One of the largest vocational education and training provider in Australia, with over 70,000 enrolled students and 34 campuses. TAFE SA is one of the leaders in Australia for its trade department.
TAFE SA recently deployed virtual reality headsets to aid education for their Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Servicing Courses. Students have a 1:1 approach with VR headsets that allows them to explore and experience high-risk areas they would not ordinarily see as apprentices.
VR technology also allows students who are training in hazardous jobs to perform tasks without exposure to hazardous high-risk environments. Furthermore, mobility of technology provides accessibility to world-class facilities and training for remote students without the burden of traveling or relocating. This hands-on approach with VR technology is also transferable to rehabilitation clinics, other education providers, and the workplace. VR is transforming education, and it's only a matter of time before pilot trials such as the one at TAFE SA will begin to trickle into different sectors.
Schedule a Live Product Demo
Over the past 20 years, the needs of teachers and students have guided the innovative designs of our mobile device charging carts and stations to relieve pain points that are specific to challenges in education. Schedule a live video demo with a LocknCharge team member today to get a closer look at how our products can support your school's unique approach to teaching and learning.
Back To School Educational Technology Tips & Advice
What will schools look like a year from now? Or even next week? It's hard to keep track of technology solutions for your school. Get all the latest educational technology tips and advice for districts and educators here.
As districts plan for prolonged closure, school officials are doing all that they can to ensure distance learning success. Getting devices into the hands of students at home has become a top priority. Los Angeles Public Schools alone is purchasing an estimated 150,000 take-home devices. While district officials in New York City have secured 300,000 new iPads.
Even for schools with well-established 1:1 programs for devices in schools, the restrictions caused by the COVID-19 outbreak has added a new set of challenges to laptop and iPad distribution. If you're an educator with questions about how to safely distribute, charge, store, and secure devices and laptops, check out these eight tried-and-tested solutions.
1. How do we safely get laptops and tablets to new students joining the district?
The FUYL Tower 5 or 15 offers a zero-touch model for distribution of laptops and iPads to students in need of new devices, as well as staff and current students in need of replacements. You may even find that providing access to tablets and laptops with the following process is more efficient than the standard in-person method of distribution.
- Choose an accessible area at your facility to place one or more FUYL Tower 5 or 15s. For multiple facilities, we recommend spreading out the Towers around your district. That way, no family is too far from a central location. These locations can even be a covered area outdoors, so no building access is necessary.
- Stock the Tower with sanitized, ready-to-go devices. Each compartment is large enough to accommodate other new student required items as well, such as onboarding paperwork, books and school supply items.
- When a student or faculty member needs a device, IT teams can schedule a pickup time and digitally send a 4-digit PIN code for access to an individual compartment of the FUYL Tower.
2. What if we need to service devices while students are learning at home?
Let's face it, kids can be tough on devices. Space bars break, microphones stop working and screens get cracked. When students and faculty have equipment at home that breaks or is lost, you need a way to get it back without putting your staff or parents at risk.
IT teams can easily retrieve a broken device and provide a replacement without any physical contact via a FUYL Tower. When Towers are spread throughout the district, no family has to drive farther than another, making this an equitable option.
3. How can we offer secure charging for those with housing insecurity?
Distance learning is impossible without access to power. By individually assigning FUYL Tower slots, students with housing insecurity know at any given time that they have a designated place to keep their device safe and secure while charging.
Many districts are finding creative ways to provide charging to economically disadvantaged students. Towers are being placed in family resource centers and other locations where students get free access.
4. What process can we use to retrieve devices from students before summer break?
Before the start of the new school year, you'll likely need to bring all of your devices back for sanitization and servicing. With our robust online management portal, IT admins can manage FUYL Towers remotely. After parents drop off devices at a scheduled time, staff can track the activity of the Tower to know when the compartment was accessed, reset PINs, open doors, or quarantine doors. Again, all done remotely without any physical contact.
Remember, compartments don't have to be limited to devices. If you're looking to clean out student lockers at the end of the year, you can put each student's belongings in a FUYL Tower slot and arrange for safe pickup.
5. What's the best way to store devices over the summer?
Don't be left scrambling when your district retrieves devices at the end of the school year as you try to figure out where you're going to store them all. 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 very easily.
In addition to mobile devices, open-concept carts can accommodate robotics, 3D Printers, VR Goggles and more. Plus, as tablet and laptop technology in schools changes, these types of universal charging stations will not become outdated.
6. What's the most efficient way to cable charging solutions once school resumes?
Managing cables for hundreds or more devices takes away valuable time from already strapped IT resources. Now that you're 1:1, it's a great time to consider a more efficient way and kiss those tangled cords goodbye.
With our clean cable management system, it takes a fraction of the time to cable and uncable devices from our carts compared to our competitors' carts. Nikki Burrell, LocknCharge Senior Customer Success Manager, once held a contest with our partner representatives to stop by and see who was the fastest at cabling a Carrier 10 Charging Station. She exclaimed, "It got crazy competitive, and the times were astounding – the fastest time was less than 2 minutes!"
Josh Davis, Senior Director of Customer Engagement, finds wiring LocknCharge charging stations fast because of the easy access to bricks and cables. "Once you get the hang of it, a 15-unit charging station takes about 10 minutes, and the 32-unit station takes about 20 minutes. Which is generally half the time of our 30-unit carts. And our 30-unit carts can be set up in half the time of many competitors' carts around the same capacity."
7. How will we manage new devices once school resumes?
Limited resources are a challenge for every school, so it may seem logical to choose a charging cart or station based on price. What districts must keep in mind is how choosing the right charging solution now can have a significant impact on technology budgets and employees' time in the future.
Charging solutions will account for a significant portion of your mobile device budget. However, imagine the costs and time your district would save if you don't need to replace your charging solutions every time you roll out new mobile devices. LocknCharge has coined this concept as "future-proof charging." Future-proof charging solutions combine universal charging, open-concept designs and durable products to save schools significant time and money.
8. What if my school doesn't have enough room to store all of these new devices securely?
Now that you're 1:1, it's time to think about itty bitty footprint charging stations rather than bulky carts. With the optional pedestal for the Putnam 18-C Tower, you can charge, store and secure up to 36 Chromebook, small laptop or tablet devices in two stacked charging stations. The tall, slim design of the Putnam 18-C Base is ultra-compact, saving valuable real estate in space-strapped areas.
In addition to saving space, you'll be investing in technology that modernizes your school's infrastructure without costly facility upgrades. Putnam 18-C Towers with ECO Safe Charge eliminate the need for the added expense of installing new outlets because two stacked Towers rely on one single outlet plug.
LocknCharge is an exceptional resource to help you plan for the future and navigate the new world of distance and online learning. Our solutions can significantly reduce setup time and meet your district's flexibility and ease-of-use needs. Schedule a live video demo with a LocknCharge team member today to get a closer look at how our products can support your short-term needs as well as your long-term edTech goals.
Schedule a Live Product Demo
Schedule a live video demo with a LocknCharge team member to get a closer look at how our products help make your life easier.
Back To School Educational Technology Tips & Advice
What will schools look like a year from now? Or even next week? It's hard to keep track of technology solutions for your school. Get all the latest educational technology tips and advice for districts and educators here.
Want to learn more?
Three out of four U.S. students now use smartphones as educational technology aides in the classroom. More than half of K-12 teachers report the use of edtech solutions, including laptop computers and tablets in a typical week. That means tens of millions of electronic devices are losing their charge throughout schools every day. The obvious solution is to plug those devices into an outlet when they’re need of recharging. However, if you’ve spent any time in an airport with your phone’s battery on one percent, you know that not all buildings are outfitted with enough outlets to serve our growing demand for power. The technology infrastructure in schools is no different. Most classrooms average more than twenty students; it’s highly unlikely there’s an available outlet for each student, not to mention one for teachers, aides and other support staff.
“You don’t always think about charging as a problem until you see the things students do to charge their devices throughout the day. 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 - Deforest Area School Distrcit
Kim Bannigan, a learning information systems coordinator at DeForest Area School District, is all too familiar with this issue. “You don’t always think about charging as a problem until you see the things students do to charge their devices throughout the day,” she explains. “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.”
In addition to outlets being hard to come by in schools, they also don’t protect against breakage or theft. As you can imagine, a school’s cafeteria is not the safest spot to store a device.
School Infrastructure Report Card
The next obvious solution to meet the charging needs of students and their devices is to install additional outlets. But infrastructure updates are costly, and education funding is often limited. In 2017, the American Society of Civil Engineers gave public schools a D+ in its annual infrastructure report card and estimated that the cost to bring all U.S. schools into better condition would be approximately $200 billion. With the average cost of adding a new electric outlet at around $350, additional outlets may not be the highest priority when more than half of schools need to invest in repairs, renovations and modernizations to even be considered in ‘good’ condition. ,
One Low-Cost Step towards Modernization
A wide range of creative ideas is required to tackle the enormous task of modernizing schools. Deploying on-demand, centralized and secure charging towers is an innovative smart classroom management solution that will get your school one step closer to improving its infrastructure grade. Charging towers and charging carts offer modern convenience without expensive facilities updates, bringing your school into the 21st century at a low cost. Check out these seven benefits of secure charging towers for schools:
- Save money on infrastructure updates: Eliminate the need for new outlets. An optional pedestal for the Putnam 18 Tower allows you to charge 36 Chromebook, small laptop or tablet devices in two stacked charging stations with one outlet plug.
- Prevent electrical overload: Finding a spot to charge tens, hundreds, or even thousands of devices at once can be daunting. It can also put a severe strain on an outdated school building’s electrical capabilities. Our solutions are equipped with an ECO Safe Charge, so you won’t have to worry about electrical overload while charging multiple devices at one outlet.
- Safely store devices: Because students have their own code to access LocknCharge towers, they’re more secure than a regular locker, a classroom and especially a cafeteria.
- Secure Charging on Demand. FUYL Towers can be stationed in open areas where they’re needed most – library media centers, hallways, lunchrooms, etc. Even when they’re deployed in public spaces, nobody has to watch them. Devices can be accessed anytime students need them, such as during passing times, lunch, or before or after school.
- Reduce BYOD challenges: One of the biggest challenges of a “bring your own device” program is students leaving their device at home. Students are notorious for being forgetful. The distractions that come from a forgotten device have the potential to halt or alter your class for the entire day, not to mention putting students a day behind in classwork. No more “I left my laptop at home” excuses.
- Keep devices charged: Guess what, those forgetful students are probably not going to remember to charge their laptops and tablets before class. Similar to showing up with no device, a dead device has the same capacity to disrupt learning time.
- Cut additional expenses: 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 grow and adapt along with technological innovation and combine universal charging, open-concept designs and durable products to save schools money.
All students and teachers deserve schools that are modernized and capable of supporting the latest education programming. Contact LocknCharge, and we’ll help you design a proactive solution for your infrastructure challenges.
Since January of 2016, there have been over 700 cyber incidents reported in K-12 public schools and districts in the United States. One look at the K-12 Cyber Incident Map, and you’ll get an idea of how far-reaching this problem is. It’s not just a U.S. concern either. In the UK, four out of five schools have experienced at least one cybersecurity incident.
Hackers aren’t looking to find out what grades your students received on their latest spelling tests. As Mary Kavaney, the chief operating officer of the Global Cyber Alliance explains, school environments “have some of the richest personal information on people, including social security numbers, birth dates, and, potentially, medical and financial information.”
How can educators protect digital assets and information in schools? Here are five strategies to increase protection.
1. Secure your devices from physical attacks
Would you believe that the second most popular password is “password?” Its popularity is only surpassed by “123456,” which has been the most common password for five years running. Suffice it to say, these passwords may be easy to remember, but they are not secure. The Texas Computer Education Association recommends these cybersecurity tips for teachers using technology in the classroom. “Frequently change your password throughout the school year, and don’t ever write it down. Always make sure to log out of your computer when you step away from your desk, and avoid letting students use your computer, especially when it’s logged into your account.”
Are you wondering how you’ll ever remember all of those passwords if you can’t keep them on a post-it “hidden” under your keyboard? Password managers help create better passwords and keep track of all of your login information to strengthen online security. Wired calls them the “vegetables of the internet.” Because “We know they’re good for us, but most of us are happier snacking on the password equivalent of junk food.” It’s time to listen to our mothers and eat our veggies!
2. Lock up your devices
Not using your beloved pet’s name for a password is a great first step to securing your school’s digital assets. But we think an even better one is keeping devices out of the wrong hands in the first place. Did you know that 41% of data breaches are due to lost and stolen mobile devices? It’s essential to protect your students and your school by securing devices with both digital security and physical security when not in use. Implementing durable, secure charging stations will protect devices and the data that’s on them. Not to mention decrease costs. As careful as educators try to be with their hardware, 10% of mobile devices break or go missing in the first year of a smart classroom deployment. A centralized point of secure charging helps schools provide a repository for tablets and laptops, reducing breakage and loss. As the use of technology in education increases, the critical oversight of not protecting your devices when not in use can create painful hassles for students, teachers and administrators alike. By using a secure device charging station, you’ll minimize per-student and per-educator device costs.
3. Keep programs up-to-date
“Updates ready to install.” We’ve all seen this message before. Unfortunately, many of us are quick to click the “remind me later” button without giving it another thought. Until, of course, it pops up again later. If you want to prevent malicious attacks by shutting the door malware uses to exploit loopholes, it’s critical to keep your software up to date. Software updates are patches that often fix security holes. Don’t be the one-in-ten users that never installs them. Enabling automatic updates will keep your devices safer without those pesky notifications because your device will automatically install critical updates when they become available. As security specialist David Longenecker writes, “If your car had a factory defect that might leave you stranded on the side of the road, and offered a free fix, you’d take them up on it, right? This is the same thing.”
4. Have an incident response plan
Just as your school has a plan in place in case of a fire, educators need a plan in place in case of a digital emergency such as a security breach. An incident response plan will prepare students and staff if a cybercrime occurs. According to the U.S. Department of Education, “Prompt response is essential for minimizing the risk of any further data loss and, therefore, plays an important role in mitigating any negative consequences of the breach, including potential harm to affected individuals.” Check the ED’s helpful Data Breach Response Checklist, which illustrates some current industry best practices in data breach response and mitigation applicable to the education community.
5. Educate staff and students
All levels of education benefit from training programs for both faculty and students on cybersecurity. Don’t assume staff members automatically understand how to handle the enormous responsibility of accessing student data. As Tech Edvocate advises, “Staff members need to know how to access information responsibly, know how to use a notification system for breaches, and should understand what to do in case of a breach.” Also, students need instruction on how to manage their digital identities. By teaching students how to manage their personal data, maintain digital privacy and identify data-collection technology used to track them online, they’ll not only be protected at school, “but for the rest of their lives.”
With LocknCharge solutions, teachers don’t have to worry about the safety of the devices as they use them to implement a blended learning model and create a 21st-century learning environment. Read how one California district protects its technology investment and keeps devices safe with over one hundred LocknCharge Carrier 40 Carts.
It’s that time of year again. The time when we’re thankful for cooler temperatures and vibrant autumn leaves. While you may be busy preparing for fall classroom activities, we’re here to remind you that it’s never too early to start planning for next year’s summer programs. Summer offers distinctive opportunities that are indispensable to an excellent education. According to RAND Education, “Research has shown that students’ skills and knowledge often deteriorate during the summer months. Instruction during the summer has the potential to stop these losses and propel students toward higher achievement.”
With that in mind, we’ve pulled together the latest research on the benefits of a STEM or STEAM summer curriculum and its advantages for every grade level. Also, we’ve included three exemplary summer STEM programs with strong outcomes as well as strategies to overcome technology challenges. So grab that pumpkin spiced latte and get ready to make next summer count by stopping the “summer slide.”
STEM Learning in Out-of-School Programs Provides Unique Advantages
One of the most significant advantages of offering a STEM or STEAM curriculum in out-of-school settings is that it directly affects what’s possible inside classrooms. A report by the National Research Council found evidence that STEM learning in out-of-school programs has been shown to:
- Contribute to young people’s interest in and understanding of STEM
- Connect young people to caring adults who serve as role models
- Reduce the achievement gap between young people from low-income and high-income families
The National Summer Learning Association (NSLA) sums up the benefits with this conclusion, “Summer offers a unique opportunity for students to engage in STEM learning in ways that mirror real-world needs, while also drawing on the practices that make these STEM learning resources & activities most successful.”
Advantages at Every Grade Level
From little ones to teens, all grade levels can benefit from summer enrichment programs in science, technology, engineering, arts, and math. Julian Krinsky Camps & Programs highlights the advantages for kids of all ages.
- Elementary Students: Explore future careers, build self-confidence and get out of their comfort zones
- Middle School Students: Ease the transition to high school, catch up on STEM subjects, career development
- High School Students: Prepare for college, increase college admission chances, and improve social skills
Three Creative Uses of Technology in Summer STEM Programs
Technology can strengthen the activities offered by summer programs. Check out these examples of schools that incorporate technology to facilitate a hands-on, engaging, and most of all, fun experience!
- An Out of This World Hands-On Experience
The Zero Robotics Middle School Summer Program is a five-week innovative program for middle school students. The curriculum is described as “truly out of this world” since it culminates in a tournament where students gather in teams to design code that to control a small satellite. “The best code is uploaded to the International Space Station where live astronauts judge a competition between the satellites programmed by students from around the country,” explains EdSource.
- Journey through Mathematics
In the summer following third grade, students lose 27% of their school-year grades in math. That number jumps to 50% by the summer after seventh grade. To counteract the loss of math proficiency, schools across Connecticut participate in the Connecticut Pre-Engineering Program (CPEP) Summer Math Gaming Challenge. “CPEP’s blended learning model integrates face-to-face teacher instruction with cutting-edge, games-based mathematics learning software to create an engaging, customized, and differentiated learning experience.” Challenges include creating a digitally animated ad using the Scratch programming language and applying principles of gravity, force, and structural integrity to create a package optimized for aerial drop-delivery.
- Opening up Infinite Career Opportunities for Young Women
Only 6.7% of women graduate with STEM degrees vs. 17% of men. Recently there has been an increase in initiatives and out-of-school programs aiming to close the gender gap and inspire more women to choose STEM pathways. One such program is the all-girls Forensic Science Camp at Saint Mary’s College in Notre Dame, Indiana. This one-week program caters to students who are interested in forensic science. “Students arrive at a staged crime scene and must gather and analyze evidence to find a suspect. Using biology, chemistry, mathematics and deductive reasoning, campers study fingerprints, footprints, fiber and hair samples, and other evidence.”
Three Strategies to Overcome Technology Challenges
Introducing technology into school curriculum isn’t always easy. In a Research-to-Results brief on incorporating technology into out-of-school time programs, Child Trends identified three strategies to overcome challenges with integrating educational technology.
- Offer practical training and technical support on using technology, so staff members are equipped to integrate it into program activities
- Establish guidelines and role modeling for proper technology use
- Partner with schools and businesses to offset the costs of purchasing and maintaining technology
Share Your STEM Stories
Does your school or district offer summer enrichment with a STEM/STEAM curriculum? We’d love to share your stories so that other imaginative educators can gain inspiration from your successes. Drop us a message on Facebook, tweet us, or connect on LinkedIn and let us know how you stop the summer slide.