Seeing the other side of the cup.

A word from James Symons, CEO at IWS Global - PC Locs / LocknCharge:

While I haven’t been silent on the issue that Black Lives Matter, I have recently been challenged to use whatever means I have available to be more vocal. To the person that challenged me… I say a sincere “thank you”!

I want to share, and make known, why I attended the Black Lives Matter rally in Perth, Australia on Monday the 1st June, and why I will continue to advocate for the rights of people on the receiving end of systemic racism, both in the US, and here in my home country of Australia.

Before the recent murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, myself and a group of close friends of mine began reading a book written by African American academic and activist, Dr Drew G. I. Hart, called Trouble I’ve Seen. While I recommend that every white person I know should read this book, I want to share a story that Hart references in his book that beautifully articulates why it is now time for me to deal with the racial biases I have unknowingly carried as a white, middle-aged male living in Australia.

Drew speaks about a meeting he had with a white suburban pastor in his neighbourhood in Philadelphia. The pastor contacted Drew to not only get to know him, but more specifically, so that they could dialogue across the “racial divide”. Here is how Drew describes the conversation once they began discussing the matter at hand as they sat across from each other at McDonalds:

“Drew,” the Pastor said, “This cup has writing on my side of the cup and a logo on yours.” He paused. “But I can’t see what is on your side of the cup,” he continued. “Likewise, you can’t see what is on my side of the cup... Because I can’t see what is on your side of the cup, I need you to share with me your perspective so I can see things from your standpoint, likewise, you need me to share my point of view so that you can understand the world from my vantage point”

As I read this, I thought to myself, “that totally makes sense”. However, as I read on, I was deeply challenged by Drew’s very gracious, yet articulate response to the Pastor (and me as the reader).

Drew states that this is not how things actually work. He explained that he already knew what was on the pastor’s side of the cup. Hart writes:

This is because I have learned Eurocentric history written from a white perspective. I have read white literature and poetry. I have learned about white musicians and artists. I have had mostly white teachers and professors through every stage of my educational process. I have read lots of white authors and have heard white intellectuals give lectures on a variety of topics. I have been inundated by white-dominated and controlled television and media. I have lived in a mostly white suburban community, and I have lived on a predominately white Christian campus. The truth of the matter is that I wouldn’t have been on track to a PhD without becoming intimately familiar with the various ways that white people think. My so-called success means that I have had to know what it takes to meet white standards, whether they are formal or informal.

After explaining why he already knew what was on the pastor’s side of the cup, Drew noted that in contrast to himself, the pastor most likely could go through his entire life without needing to know black literature, black intellectual thought, black wisdom, black art and music, or black history. That is, he could choose to never engage with, or be changed by, the range and beauty of the black community. Nor would he be penalized for it. That option of white exclusivity would not affect his livelihood or means of providing for his family. No one would question his qualifications if he didn’t know how to navigate black communities and cultures or understand the daily realities of most black people in America.

Immersion in, and understanding of, the black community has never been routinely expected or necessary for employees, politicians, scholars, doctors, teachers, or pastors.

So, it is now with a degree of embarrassment and shame that I acknowledge that I have not actively endeavoured to truly understand what is on the “other side of the cup”. When it comes to the oldest living cultures in the world that continue to exist in the place I have grown up, how do I answer the same questions? How much Aboriginal literature have I read? How many Noongar words do I speak? How much do I understand of Aboriginal intellectual thought? How familiar am I with Aboriginal wisdom? How much Aboriginal art and music do I regularly appreciate? How much Aboriginal history do I know? How aware am I of the genocides that happened within an hour from where I live?

This is why I attended the Black Lives Matter rally… to listen, learn and understand... but I can’t stop there. This is why I will seek to learn from those on the receiving end of systemic racism within my company, within my church and within my community. I will listen to their stories, read their literature, learn their culture, understand their pain and concerns, and seek to love them as myself. Then I will join them in seeking to transform systems that say their lives don't matter.

Today I choose to listen and learn. Australian Aboriginal people have faced genocide, discrimination and devastating loss since colonisation more than 230 years ago.

Today, I say over and over that “BLACK LIVES MATTER”. It is now time for us to truly listen and understand what is on the “other side of the cup”.


Image courtesy of Peacock Visuals - Perth Black Lives Matter rally, June 2nd 2020.

All quotes and references from Dr Drew Hart originate from his book, Trouble I've Seen: Changing the Way the Church Views Racism, Herald Press, 2016

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How are Schools Around the World Preparing to Reopen?

Coronavirus lockdown closures have impacted almost 70% of the world's student population, according to UNESCO. That's over 1.3 billion affected learners. Recently, some countries have started reopening schools, while others are in the planning process.

In the United States, education leaders and experts have been developing blueprints with reopening scenarios and advice. One thing is for sure; schools in the U.S. will be different when students return. Just how different is one of the biggest questions on the minds of parents, educators and students.

For schools around the world, proposed safety measures focus on everything from strict hygiene measures (including hand washing stations) to smaller rooms to encourage social distancing in the classroom. While the circumstances in each area are different, check out these five examples of school reopening strategies.

Frequent Hand-Washing

Huntington School, in York, in an effort to increase school hand washing stations, has converted its sports hall into a hand-washing zone. The chief executive of the Aspirations Academies Trust in the south of England, believes pupils could be washing their hands up to eight times a day, in addition to maintaining social distancing in schools, reports Schools Week.[i]

To help engage children in the hand washing process, the NSF Scrub Club offers worksheets, videos and activities to teach kids the proper way to wash their hands.

Social Distancing

In Denmark, in an effort to reopen classrooms, schools have placed desks six feet apart and staggered student arrivals, among other measures, to adhere to social distancing guidelines. Children also line up in the morning next to traffic cones spaced 6 feet apart. In Norway, in an effort to increase social distancing in schools, the government has urged schools to divide classes into groups of no more than 15.[ii]

At the Copenhagen International School, only five children are allowed on the playground at one time. Administrators have made up a new game for the kids to play while staying 6 feet apart. It's called shadow tag, and it involves kids "tagging each other's shadow, so they're not touching."[iii]

Remote Learning Readiness: 5 Takeaways from a Thriving District Tech Department

May 19, 2020

May 15, 2020 | Oak Forest, IL, USA If there’s…

Reducing Human Contact

In Chicago's Arbor Park School District, the tech team tweaked their smart locker workflow to enable a no-contact pickup location for replacement devices. Just like an Amazon locker, a FUYL Tower was relocated to a publicly-accessible location within the school. Parents can place tech orders from the district's ecommerce site, and the school fulfills the order by placing it in a FUYL Tower compartment. Parents follow simple email instructions to unlock and pick up their requests from their assigned FUYL Tower locker number the following day.

Temperature Checks

Under California's reopening guidelines, schools would likely implement zero-touch technology screening of staff and students before they enter campus. "A big part of what we'll do is taking temperatures at school and in some cases asking parents to take it before they leave home," states Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond.[iv]

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If you're looking for a zero-touch model for device distribution, LocknCharge is here to help. Schedule a live video demo with a LocknCharge team member today to get a closer look at how our products can support your school reopening plans.

Sources:

[i] Long read: How are schools preparing to reopen? – Schools Week

[ii] COVID-19: Countries around the world are reopening their schools – World Economic Forum

[iii] 9 Ways Schools Will Look Different When (And If) They Reopen – NPR

[iv] California students to wear masks, get daily temperature checks – Politico

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Top 3 Benefits of Managing Teachers’ Devices with Smart Lockers

When a student’s device goes missing or breaks, that student can quickly fall behind in classwork. Now imagine the disruption of learning when a teacher can’t get online or experiences a hardware failure. Remote classrooms com to a screeching halt for an entire virtual class. Homework is no longer distributed; assignments go ungraded and live lessons are put on hold until the teacher is back up and running.

Getting working devices in the hands of both students and teachers faster means everyone can get back to learning with minimal disruption, mitigating the negative impact on student achievement. However, in the shift to remote learning, tech teams are already stressed with more work than they’re able to handle. In fact, some school districts are finding they need an entire department just to maintain and support teacher devices.

By automating the clunky manual ipad or chromebook distribution process, LocknCharge FUYL Tower 5 or 15 charging lockers allow organizations to save a considerable amount of time, not to mention reduce staff frustration caused by frequent interruptions. While many schools take advantage of LocknCharge solutions for zero-touch distribution for student’s devices, others are witnessing these three benefits of Towers for managing break/fix and loaner programs for teachers and substitutes.

1. One less thing for administrators and IT staff to worry about.

Administrators and IT support staff already have enough on their plates, supporting teachers on the best methods to teach through technology. Swapping devices shouldn’t add to their already heavy load.

By designating a smart locker (such as the FUYL Tower 15) as a device repair drop point, you’ll no longer be spending the majority of your day exchanging broken devices. Save serious time by easily retrieving broken devices and providing replacements without any physical contact.

2. Improve efficiency of loaner distribution for substitute teachers.

Monitoring teacher absences and locating replacements is challenging enough on its own. Once a substitute is assigned to a class, administers now have the additional responsibility of ensuring that each sub has the proper technology to teach.

In the scenario of classroom learning, most teachers take their individually assigned devices home. This means that when substitute teachers arrive on campus, they have to go somewhere and physically interact with the tech team or front office person to get their assigned device. Or do they? With a FUYL Tower 5 or 15 filled with ready-to-go teacher devices, you’ll reduce in-person interactions, and speed up the check-in/check-out process. Simply email the subs their assigned PINs, along with the locker number and location of the appropriate Tower. They’ll pick up their pre-loaded and configured device and be on their way in no time, thereby reducing disruption of teaching as well as eliminate unexpected interruptions of tech teams. This process also mitigates the potential cross-contamination of laptops between teacher and substitute.

In the case of distance learning, getting a device in the hands of a substitute is even more critical. By rolling a Tower out to a publicly-accessible location on a school campus or district office, substitute’s devices can be left securely in a designated locker, ready for no-contact pick up before the school day begins, and easy return when the assignment is over.

3. Easily manage your Towers from one web-based portal.

Whether you have three Towers or thirty, no one wants the hassle of managing each smart locker separately. Once LocknCharge FUYL Towers are connected to a network, designated admins can view, access and manage multiple Towers in different locations through a Web-Based Management Portal. The Portal also provides real-time data of users accessing the Tower, what devices are checked out, and for how long.

With API and Webhooks, organizations have the option to integrate Towers with their helpdesk software, further automating the loaner device process. For example, when a teacher requests a device, the system can search for available laptops or tablets on campus and automatically provide the location of the FUYL Tower, with the locker number and a PIN. Once the device is retrieved, the administrator receives an email that the teacher has picked up the device. In this scenario, there are no humans involved. The loaner device location was just generated entirely by LocknCharge’s software when integrated with help desk software. 

In these extraordinary circumstances, our team remains committed to assisting you in managing your devices to help minimize disruption to your staff and students.

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Virtual Connections Provide Comfort Between Patients and Loved Ones

Face-to-face interactions and human touch between family and friends are not always possible during this time, especially in a healthcare setting. As teachers reach out remotely and coworkers meet over zoom, frontline healthcare workers are also finding creative ways to connect people through telemedicine. While there is no replacement for physical closeness between patients and their loved ones, virtual connections can help ease discomfort and maintain bonds.

That's why the resident physicians and medical students at the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine, launched a fundraising initiative to keep families together through this difficult time. After witnessing patients separated from their loved ones and not being able to say their last goodbyes, these healthcare heroes asked for donations of tablets to facilitate video conferences between family and friends and the people they care about in the hospital.

"I wish I could say that interactions on an iPad are just like being in the room. But nothing substitutes that personal connection. Even when you can't touch or hug your loved one. Your presence is irreplaceable," explains Michelle Mourad, MD, Vice-Chair of the Department of Medicine at UCSF, as reported by ABC7 News.  But she says connecting with patients through iPads is the "next best thing."

Over 100 iPads have been donated to #ConnectingThroughCovid so far. When LocknCharge found out about the UCSF Health iPad initiative, we knew that these devices would need a place to charge as well as a secure location to be stored when not in use. With that in mind, LocknCharge was honored to donate two iQ 10 charging stations. These charging stations take up minimal space and include baskets that allow health care providers to share and safely distribute devices between multiple locations.

After the charging stations were received and implemented, a member of the UCSF medical resident team contacted LocknCharge about the success of the project as well as to provide an update in the form of patient stories. We are humbled beyond words to be a part of this compassionate and caring initiative and grateful for the opportunity to share these three patient stories with you.

Siblings Express their Love

One patient, newly diagnosed with Leukemia, barely finds the strength to lift her head from her pillow. Her smile is hued with sadness as she stares at her brother and sister on an iPad screen. Unfortunately, she is not the sickest in her family as her brother is reaching his final days in hospice. They unfeignedly say, "I love you" numerous times with slight trepidation that it might be their last chance to mouth those words.

A Prayer for Jerome

One patient struggles to catch his breath while he speaks to us in his hospital. He was recently admitted after severe weakness causing him not to be able to walk. He also suffers from blindness and heart failure, but what he wants most is to speak to his friend and surrogate decision-maker. We video call his friend on the iPad, and the first thing our patient asks for is prayer. His friend grabs his wife and kids, and they pray for Jerome, tears streaming from his face as he softly stares at the screen.

Reaching out Across the Country to Ease Loneliness

One patient calls his niece, elated, shares that his surgery was a success. He has felt lonely the past couple of days in the hospital and uses the tablets three days in a row to now connect with his family across the United States.

Over 140+ individuals and groups have donated to #ConnectingThroughCovid. If you would like to contribute, visit the UCSF - Connecting Patients and Families GoFundMe. Your donation will help connect these patients to their loved ones and positively affect the lives of countless people.

Virtual Connections between Patients and Loved Ones Provide Comfort

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Remote Learning Readiness: 5 Takeaways from a Thriving District Tech Department

May 15, 2020 | Oak Forest, IL, USA

If there’s one thing we’ve learned from the 2019-2020 school year, it’s that we all have adaptability within us. Here we are, navigating fully-remote learning–and just a few short weeks ago we thought “zoom” was a verb. As we’ve witnessed innate creativity and problem solving surface in so many ways during these unprecedented times, it’s helpful to take a look at the best practices that have allowed some school districts to pivot a little more quickly and smoothly than others. 

David Termunde is the Chief Technology Officer for Arbor Park School District 145 in the greater Chicago area. He leads the Information Technology Department, or what’s better known as PandaTech, handling everything software, app and hardware related for their four schools and fleet of school busses. As the district’s first-ever CTO, David was hired three years ago to not only bring Arbor Park up to speed technologically, but also to future proof their tech plans.

While no one could have predicted the future for which they were “proofing”, David and his team felt well positioned when the sudden shift to remote learning struck.

Here are the top five takeaways that they believe set them up for success.

1. Jump In

In the past two years, Arbor Park made a complete shift from labs with traditional desktop computers and shared mobile devices to a 1:1 program for grades 1-8. After rigorous research and setting up a forward-thinking infrastructure, they were able to move quickly, which has helped to acclimate students and staff at an even pace with little pushback. According to David, “the extensive teacher training and professional development on new devices and platforms has certainly paid off during COVID-19.”

2. Charging is Key

While 1:1 take-home programs can help foster a sense of responsibility in students, lost and uncharged devices can be a prevalent interruption. To combat uncharged devices, Arbor Park offers a charging station in the lunchroom of the middle school. Their media center houses a LocknCharge FUYL Tower, which features an Intelligent Asset Management System and 15 individually-lockable compartments. Each compartment is equipped with a power outlet and USB port, putting the tech team in total control of any device they secure – whether that’s the Microsoft Surface Go laptops used by 3rd-8th graders, the staff’s Surface Pros, the younger students’ iPads or virtually any other mobile device.

3. No More Behind-the-Scenes IT

Part of the big picture plan for the district was to give the tech team its own mascot and brand. They’re not a stale, impersonal “help desk.” They’re the Pandas. Although their desks are housed in PandaLand, you’re more likely to see them out and about in one classroom or another – fixing issues or looking for problems to solve proactively. 

Equipment like the FUYL Tower plays a part in the Panda brand. It doesn’t look like a relic of the past. It’s exciting, sleek and modern, and it piques the interest of students. The team has successfully made themselves more visible and more approachable – an invaluable aspect to their 21st century IT Department. As students, teachers, staff, and parents rely more heavily on technology for learning, they also rely on their Pandas for support.

4. Technology as a Teammate

PandaTech is made up of five full-time employees. While that’s a bigger team than they’ve had in years past, they’re also managing more technology than ever before. In a district of 1,350 students, and especially during these remote learning circumstances, finding ways to let technology work harder for your team is crucial.

Typically, their FUYL Tower is used for securing charged and ready-to-go loaner devices. When students have forgotten or lost their device, they are able to independently check out what they need from a Tower.

Due to COVID-19 school closures, the Pandas have tweaked their FUYL Tower workflow to enable a no-contact pickup location for warranty replacement devices and accessory purchases. Here’s how it works. Just like an amazon locker, the FUYL Tower was relocated to a publicly-accessible location within the school. Parents are able to place tech orders from the district’s ecommerce site, and Pandas fulfill the order by placing it in a FUYL Tower compartment. Parents follow simple email instructions to unlock and pick up their order from their assigned FUYL Tower locker number the following day.

Pandas are able to view the Tower’s activity log, change pin codes, open up compartment doors and more – all remotely through the web-based management portal. David compared the FUYL Tower to “a part-time Panda” that’s always there helping the team provide the same high level of service, even when they’re not on site. Best of all, it allows them to be available and focused on e-learning support, rather than curbside pickups. 

5. Keep Innovating

Arbor Park was fortunate to have a level of preparedness for remote learning that many districts did not. It’s not by chance, but instead a top-down, district-wide commitment to technology, improvement and innovation. LocknCharge is a company built on that same spirit. Just like Arbor Park School District 145, we’re always looking for solutions to tomorrow’s problems so that we can continue to make life easier for our customers.   

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