Top 5 EdTech Trends to Watch

Usually, top trends lists are published at the beginning of the year. But there’s nothing usual about this year, especially when it comes to evolving trends. COVID-19 has become a catalyst for change, accelerating the adoption of digital technology across all industries. Under challenging conditions, education was completely transformed as schools scrambled to utilize the latest technology. That’s why we’ve decided to pause mid-year to reflect on what innovations in EdTech have recently emerged and what trends will likely stick around. 

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1. Immersive Learning Goes Mainstream

VR technology is an effective way to provide a personalized learning experience, enhance visual learning and save on physical equipment. Anecdotal evidence suggests that VR in the classroom increases students’ ability to retain information by 60-70%. It also allows training for hazardous jobs without exposure to high-risk environments. Furthermore, the mobility of technology ensures accessibility to world-class facilities for remote students without the burden of traveling or relocating.

Look for more institutions to adopt this state-of-the-art EdTech as VR headsets drop in price and immersive technology advances. Vocational education and training provider TAFE SA recently deployed 30 Lenovo Mirage VR headsets to aid education for their Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Servicing Courses. Students have a 1:1 approach with the headsets to explore and experience high-risk areas they would not ordinarily see as apprentices.

2. Distance Learning is Here to Stay

Even as schools reopen for in-person learning, administrators are extending remote learning plans. Sorry kids, if you’re in the New York City public school system, no more snow days spent sledding and building snowmen. Because NYC districts distributed hundreds of thousands of devices during the pandemic, snow days have been canceled and replaced with online learning days.

In addition, schools across the country are adopting a hybrid approach and online learning options to meet the needs of students who thrive academically in a virtual environment. According to a recent Rand Corp. survey, about one in five districts are considering adopting virtual school as part of their portfolio post-pandemic. 

3. 1:1 Goes Global

Sped up by school closures and remote learning requirements, many districts reached their 1:1 device-to-student ratio goals years ahead of schedule. Even if schools worldwide don’t yet have a device in the hands of every student, they have distributed millions more laptops, tablets and Chromebooks than ever before. Acquiring a device for each student has led to another emerging trend—. As students and educators go back to school this fall, their loaner devices will be returning too.

Those districts keeping their 1:1 ratio long-term will need to address how to best store, charge and secure their new devices without burdening school staff. One solution to set up your school for success is to invest in easy-to-cable open-concept charging carts. Pre-pandemic, technology carts helped make a limited number of computers shareable among multiple classrooms. Now, these same resources will take on a new role. Carts enable educators to plug in 30 or 40 devices without worrying about having tons of outlets in each classroom. Students leaving their devices at school overnight can take advantage of the secure storage benefits of tech carts and smart lockers. In addition to security, they offer an easy way to redistribute the devices at the start of the school day.

4. Digital Equity Comes into Focus

Procuring and handing out devices is only one side of the remote learning equation. In the US, 14% of students between the ages of 3-18 can’t connect to the internet at home. Unicef reports that worldwide, over 400 million students have no access to digital or broadcast lessons.

Innovative educators and community partners are hard at work bridging the digital divide to ensure no child misses out on learning. Many new programs have emerged—from Wi-Fi-enabled school buses in California to SIM-enabled internet dongles in Victoria. All aimed at delivering internet connectivity to underserved student households.

Achieving digital equity also relies on preparing for the inevitable. School-issued equipment used at home for remote learning or homework will break, and cables will go missing. District CTOs and CIOs have learned over the past year that they can’t assume students have a backup device. If a device is damaged, most students can’t participate in lessons—which puts them behind until they return to school for a replacement. A better solution is to deploy smart lockers such as LocknCharge FUYL Towers in public places throughout a neighborhood. Ideal locations are open after hours, such as a community resource center, a Boys & Girls Club or a local restaurant. Stocked with replacement devices, smart lockers offer secure storage, no-contact pickup and easy access 24/7. Once a student reports a device requires attention, a staff member can assign that student to a specific locker. Using an admin-defined PIN, the student can swap their broken device for a ready-to-use one. By spreading Towers throughout the district near transit hubs, no family has to travel farther than another, making this a more equitable option that reduces learning loss.

5. More Evidence-Based Procurement Decisions

When faced with stretched budgets, schools are getting smarter with their technology investments. According to ResourcEd, “Schools are much more likely to invest in technology based on evidence that it supports their school’s learning requirements and challenges.” Schools searching for tech that integrates easily within their existing infrastructure are looking for solutions that won’t quickly become obsolete.

Most technology in schools is replaced every 3-5 years. Investing in future-proof technology can have a significant impact on budgets and employees’ time. For example, imagine the costs and time your district could save by not replacing charging solutions every time new devices are rolled out.

The only certainty about the future of education is that it’s uncertain. The trick is to be ready for whatever scenario comes your way—including developing an EdTech plan that empowers students and teachers to focus on the task of learning. Learn how best to navigate educational technology in an ever-changing landscape.

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In-Person Learning Readiness: Tips for Transitioning Your 1:1 Device Program

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Sped up by Coronavirus school closures and remote learning requirements, many districts reached their 1:1 device program goals years ahead of schedule. In the Newark school system, 98% of the district’s students now have access to laptops or tabletsBuffalo Public Schools hit a milestone late last year of a device for every student, up from an average of six devices per classroom. Even if all schools don’t yet have a device in the hands of every student in need, they have distributed millions more laptops, tablets and Chromebooks than ever before.  

The demand of parents working from home and kids learning remotely, coupled with component scarcity, have resulted in massive shortages of Chromebooks and laptops. As a result, acquiring a device for each student has not been easy. And that’s just the first step of a successful 1:1 device program. Many obstacles remain in areas related to teacher training, funding and internet access.  

Another hurdle districts will soon face—how to best transition remote devices to in-person classrooms. As EducationWeek explains, “At some point in the future, whenever it’s deemed safe for school buildings to reopen, students will be returning those loaner devices. Then, the process starts to transition tens of thousands of brand-new laptops into devices intended to provide a digital boost to learning inside school buildings. 

Set Up Your School for Success this Fall 

Come fall, whether devices are staying in school or going home every night, the restrictions caused by COVID-19 have added a new set of challenges to laptop and tablet charging, disinfection, storing and redistribution. You need proven solutions to make 1:1 device programs more efficient for students and less burdensome on school staff.

 
Challenge
Solution

Summer Vacation 

Are you faced with the daunting task of bringing all of your loaner devices back for sanitization and servicing before starting the new school year? In-person device drop off increases the risks of virus spreading. 

Arrange for safe drop off and pickup. 

With our robust online management portal for FUYL Tower, IT Admins can manage Smart Lockers remotely. Parents place devices in a compartment at a scheduled time; staff then tracks the activity to see when the compartment was accessed, reset PINs, open doors and more. Tablet devices can also be sanitized using UVone to prevent the spread of bacteria on devices. 

Return-to-School Planning 

When students return full-time to classrooms, does your faculty fear device storage, charging and redistribution for their new 1:1 device program? Are you stressed that devices won’t be charged when in-person learning resumes? Does the idea of cabling/unwiring all of your charging carts keep you up at night? 

Invest in an open-concept charging cart. 

End your cabling nightmares and improve employee satisfaction with easy-to-cable open-concept charging carts. Joey Carts are super easy to cable, making setup a breeze. Baskets securely store and transport large numbers of laptops, tablets, and other technology when not in use. By placing the devices in baskets, devices are quickly loaded and unloaded into a cart, allowing them to be charged in batches very easily. 

Broken Devices 

Broken devices put an increased burden on school staff and resources. With 10% of devices going missing or broken during each year of mobile deployment, the burden can quickly compound. There’s no denying that your new school-owned devices will need repair during the school year. 

When students and faculty have equipment that breaks or is lost, you need a way to get it back without putting your staff or parents at risk.

Streamline your break/fix program with a Smart Locker. 

By designating a smart locker as a device repair drop point, school staff no longer waste valuable time tracking down and collecting broken devices. 

Reduce device downtime by streamlining your frictionless break/fix workflow. Employees and students can easily drop a broken device in the FUYL Tower and retrieve a new device while theirs is being fixed. 

Cybersecurity 

Not using your pet’s name for a password is a great first step to securing your school’s digital assets. But 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 digital security and physical security when not in use. 

Secure your devices from physical attacks.  

Implementing durable, secure charging stations will protect devices and the data on them—not to mention decrease costs. A centralized point of secure charging helps schools provide a repository for tablets and laptops, reducing breakage and loss. 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.

 

Check out more proven solutions to address 1:1 challenges such as forgotten or dead devices.  

Most experts express optimism that the majority of K-12 students will be back in-person full-time this fall. When students and educators return, classrooms won’t be the same as they were pre-pandemic. As you consider health and safety mitigation measures, be prepared to address the challenges of students and staff returning with their loaner devices tooCharging, securing, managing and sanitizing hundreds if not thousands of laptops and tablets may seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. We specialize in facilitating deployment for 1:1 device programs and shared device programs, and we’re here to help. 

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Baskets are Good for Business

There’s a reason why baskets have been around for centuries. From babies to bread, our prehistoric ancestors understood how useful baskets are for carrying, storing and transporting just about anything. Sometimes the simplest solution is the best. Thousands of years later, we’re still using baskets to transport our groceries and store our laundry. Just as baskets help make chores and shopping faster and more efficient, it turns out baskets are good for business too! Whether you’re offering in-person training, managing a distribution center or facilitating vaccinations, if your operational process includes sharing devices, our Basket system provides multiple benefits. LocknCharge slotted device Baskets enable hand-out and pack-up of devices in less time, giving you more time to focus on operational goals.

Top 5 Ways Baskets Benefit Business

  • Save time: Enable hand-out and pack-up of devices in less time
  • Prevent breakages: Keep devices more secure in public spaces
  • Streamline distribution: Easily carry multiple devices between classrooms, workrooms or buildings
  • Save cash: Reduce money spent on broken or stolen cord replacements
  • Future-proof: Transport a wide variety of devices, including laptops and tablets or devices with extra-thick cases

Distribute Devices in a Matter of Seconds

“We have limited time with the participants, so being able to grab a smart device Basket and placing them on a table give participants immediate access to the devices. I can do that in a matter of seconds which meets our need tremendously.”

- Gene Howell, Manager for Educational Technology at Australian Institute of Management in Western Australia.

The Australian Institute of Management in Western Australia (AIM WA) is dedicated to building leadership and management capability. Their suite of training courses attracts over 20,000 participants each year. Most classes require each participant to have immediate access to technology. There’s no time to waste distributing shared devices.

Slotted device charging Baskets by LocknCharge make device deployments more efficient, allowing for quick distribution and collection by the trainer. At AIM WA, iPads are stored and charged in Carrier 30 Carts in Baskets of five. When it’s time to set up for each class, the trainer slides open the secure Cart lid, takes out a couple of Baskets, and places them on tables for each participant to grab. Participants no longer have to wait in line then take out a device one by one as they would with a traditional cabinet-style laptop cart. When students start learning immediately vs. lining up, 70 hours of class time is saved per year.

Reloading the Cart is a simple three-step process:

Step 1: Put devices back into technology Baskets with their charging ports facing up

Step 2: Place Baskets into the Cart

Step 3: Plug charging cords into the devices

Cords that stay in the Cart dramatically reduces the number of broken, misplaced and stolen cords. In addition, Carts can be easily wheeled between classrooms to safely and quickly distribute devices where they’re needed most.

Facilitate Healthcare on the Go

The COVID-19 pandemic is driving demand for healthcare providers to go on the road to facilitate healthcare. Where there’s a testing and immunization event in the field or a mobile health clinic, there’s a need for devices and a way to charge, store and secure them.

FEMA’s Community Vaccination Centers Playbook recommends 100 iPads for facilities distributing up to 6,000 vaccination doses a day. These devices can be used for patient registration, scheduling and clinical documentation. At COVID-19 testing stations, staff members can also use iPads to scan patients’ insurance information quickly.

Whether sharing a hundred devices or a dozen, Baskets are an efficient method to speed up device deployment. At the start of the day, a worker grabs the Baskets from a secure Carrier Cart and sets them out to be easily accessed by the nursing teams. During their shifts, nurses return devices to the Baskets as a centralized, safe place to store them when not in use. At night, all devices are placed in Baskets which are then placed into Carts for charging.

Because baskets are removable, Carrier Carts offer an open-concept that adapts for healthcare providers on the road—making them the ideal solution for mobile blood banks and clinics. The fleet of vans operated by the Community Blood Center (CBC) travels throughout Kansas and Missouri fully stocked with everything necessary for a blood donation procedure. When each van moves multiple laptops, tablets, keyboards, wireless printers, webcams, and all of their power supplies, the task can be pretty daunting.

The blood bank needed a “mobile device kit” that could easily charge, store, secure and transport a wide variety of mobile devices and all necessary power supplies. They found success in the LocknCharge Carrier 40 Cart. Because of the open-concept design, they removed half of the Baskets and retrofitted their own padding and shelf to accommodate their unique needs.

Read the Mobile Blood Bank Case Study

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Device Charging 101: The Importance of Amps

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I don’t know about your office, but at ours, there’s an unexplained phenomenon going on. It seems that when LocknChargers step away from their desks to grab a cup of coffee or attend a meeting, they return to find their USB charging cables and chargers have vanished in thin air!

We get it. When your phone battery runs low, and you’ve left your cable and power supply at home, it’s hard to avoid the temptation of heading to the closest office for a quick charge. From smartphones to laptops, USB charging is everywhere these days. There are even rechargeable dog collars! But just because there’s an abundance of USB chargers and power supplies, that doesn’t mean they’re one size fits all. You would never grab an iPad power supply to charge a Chromebook. We’re here to explain the importance of matching the amps and voltage of a power supply to the product you’re charging, and why you should take notice of them on the tech specs of your charging solution.

Amps Go with the Current

First, let’s start with what an amp actually is. We’re talking electricity and electrons here, not guitars and concerts. When creating an electric current, it’s useful to be able to measure it. Electrical current is measured in ampere or “amps.” The quantity of amps tells you how much electricity is being drawn through the power cable.

Working with Voltage

For most mobile devices, the voltage to recharge the battery is typically five volts of direct current, shown as 5V DC. It’s critical to match the voltage of a power supply or charger to the device you’re charging. If the device specifications read “5V DC,” then 5V DC must be applied to the product. Apply more volts such as 12V, and you run the risk of destroying the device.

If you apply too little, the device won’t work. Think of your device as a flashlight with brand new batteries. When you turn it on, the flashlight is nice and bright because the batteries are at the correct voltage. As time goes by, the batteries start to drain and the voltage drops. The flashlight dims as it’s operating at a lower voltage and eventually, it will stop working. So the volts must be correct for a product to function.

Power Supply Considerations

A power supply or charger supplies current. Devices like mobile phones, tablets and laptops consume current and will take as much as they need. So if a product requires 2.1 amps, then the power supply should supply 2.1 amps or more. If the power supply provides more than 2.1 amps, the product will still only take 2.1 amps. If the power supply only supplies 1 amp, the device may fail to charge, or it will charge very slowly.

While it’s essential to match the voltage between the charger and the device, it doesn’t matter if the power supply or charger can provide more current then the device requires. However, providing less current will prevent charging or slow it down. A poorly designed charger can also prevent charging or increase the time it takes to charge. That’s why you should only use reputable manufacturers.

REAL-WORLD EXAMPLE

An iPad requires a charger capable of supplying 2.1 amps at a voltage of no less than 4.97V at the charger connector on the cart. Failure to provide this amount of current at the right voltage will extend the amount of time required to charge the iPad battery. This detrimental effect can be easily demonstrated by charging an iPad with an iPhone charger. An iPhone charger can only supply the iPad with 1 amp, which means charging will be dramatically slower. In the real world, imagine a student, teacher, nurse or maintenance engineer checking out an iPad in the morning that was placed on charge the night before. Likely, the iPad will still not be fully charged. If iPads and tablets are uncharged, students can’t learn, nurses can’t communicate, and employees can’t perform their jobs.

How to Safely Charge Multiple Devices

When you’re tasked with simultaneously charging multiple devices at once, obviously borrowing a charging cord and power supply from a coworker isn’t an option. That’s why LocknCharge offers the remote control ECO Safe Charge™ Power Management System. This intelligent programmable power management unit can charge multiple laptops and power other electrical equipment safely.

In our high capacity charging stations and charging carts, the devices can be programmed for a certain amount of time. If the device has built-in software, it won’t overcharge. If the device just needs a quick pick me up in the middle of the day, it will charge just as fast in its cart. You control how long you want your devices charged, and ECO Safe Charge will supply as much power as the device needs, regardless of how much of a charge it currently has. Other great benefits of ECO Safe Charge:

  • Reduces the possibility of blowing a circuit when a Cart or Station filled with devices is plugged into a single outlet.
  • The ECO-TIMER™ functions can reduce your energy consumption, reduce carbon emissions, extend the life of device batteries and reduce your power bills.

Don’t neglect the importance of reading the product specs when purchasing charging solutions to ensure that you’re charging at the correct rate for the devices you’re using. If the spec sheet doesn’t show the charging current for the device you wish to charge, be sure to ask the manufacturer.

If secure and efficient charging is important to you, check out our FUYL Tower smart lockers. All compartments contain a power outlet and a 2.4 amp USB port so you can securely charge almost any device, including iPads, tablets, laptops, mobile phones, Chromebooks and more!

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The Essential Swiss-Army-knife-like cart for Mobile Deployments

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Background

Seine-et-Yvelines Numérique has a relatively short history. Originally attached solely to the County of Yvelines when it was first established in 2016, the Open Mixed Syndicate (“Syndicat Mixte Ouvert” - SMO) became known as Seine-et-Yvelines Numérique in January 2020 with the membership of the county of Hauts-De-Seine.

They’ve managed to do a lot in a short amount of time. Seine-et-Yvelines Numérique was created to organize the deployment of Very High Speed internet (THD) and develop digital services throughout the territory – including electronic security, IT and telecom solutions and digital education. They are currently managing technology for 116 colleges (students ages 11-15) in the Yvelines and are also responsible for the various municipalities that can subscribe to their educational offerings.

Ultimately, Seine-et-Yvelines Numérique wants students to use digital technology its fullest potential. This takes solid support from teachers and reliable device charging and security.

Challenge

Seine-et-Yvelines Numérique supports education players at all levels of technology: access to THD, turnkey hardware and software solutions, teacher technical training, and facilitation of educational projects. Each year, the colleges are asked to make calls for educational projects, which allow them access to additional digital equipment. Through these calls, Seine-et-Yvelines Numérique has seen the demand for mobile tablet classes rise dramatically.

With 16,000 iPads deployed in total (amongst which 4,400 iPads are deployed in carts as “mobile classrooms” ) throughout 96 colleges, Seine-et-Yvelines Numérique manages devices for a wide variety of uses: security when not in use, charging without degrading the batteries, and easily transporting devices up and down stairs and across college campuses that may be spread out over several buildings.

Solution

Seine-et-Yvelines Numérique first saw LocknCharge products at the Bett Education Technology Show and knew immediately that the Carrier™ Charging Carts were the right fit for their teachers. The heavy-duty, fully welded steel Carts would secure 20, 30 or 40 mobile devices, and with the option to use Baskets by LocknCharge inside the Carts, the colleges are given ultimate flexibility with their device deployments.

The SMO purchased hundreds of Carrier Carts to use throughout the county colleges. As Seine-et-Yvelines Numérique’s Mobility Project Manager, Patrick Mazars, put it,

“The complexity of deploying the devices is no longer an obstacle to using these devices.”

He explained that teachers are impressed with the carts because of their Swiss-Army-knife-like versatility. Whether sharing 30 iPads between classrooms or grabbing a Basket of 5, they are equipped to do it quickly and safely.

Another notable feature of the Carrier Carts is the ECO Safe Charge™ Power Management System, built to handle power requirements of almost any device by staging the availability of power. The system also ensures that devices are not overcharged, increasing their longevity.

Patrick Mazars and his team compared all other carts available on the market, and LocknCharge came out on top to best fit the requirements of the customer. Even after in-depth research, they were pleasantly surprised to discover another advantage when the Carts arrived–how easy they were to plug and unplug.

“It’s very simple, it’s effective,” Patrick Mazars said.

Effectiveness is important to Seine-et-Yvelines Numérique. They’ve taken careful, calculated action to make sure their colleges and municipalities maximize the use of their digital technology. They’re not deploying equipment recklessly without thought or training, but rather little by little with proper support.

What’s Next?

As more and more teachers witness the ease in which their colleagues are adopting and deploying mobile technology into the classrooms with the help of LocknCharge solutions, more and more teachers are utilizing and requesting them. The charging and storage solutions have become a well-known and necessary component to the full mobile device package. Even municipalities are convinced that you can’t have one without the other.

Seine-et-Yvelines Numérique plans to add more Carrier 20, 30 and 40 Carts, iQ 10 and Putnam 16 Charging Stations, and FUYL Towers in the near term.

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