International expert James Symons shares tips for successful device rollouts
AUSTIN, TX, Feb. 4, 2015 – At TCEA K-12 mobile device management specialist LocknCharge’s CEO, James Symons, shared answers to questions about how and why K-12 schools should roll out mobile devices together with storage and charging products. Symons, who will be in the LocknCharge booth #1935, explained the advantages of this strategy. His company is known for innovative carts that efficiently store and simultaneously charge mobile devices in schools. Symons said that many schools begin implementing mobile devices by opting to try a pilot of devices, and increasingly, they are also piloting LocknCharge Carts or Charging Stations as well. School IT staff and faculty like to get a real-life test on how things will work during their deployment to ultimately make them more prepared for it. Additionally, pilots give districts insight into the benefits their students and staff will realize in a mobile device deployment. Often, this insight is critical in securing and allocating any funding needed for mass deployments.
Overall, rolling out devices with the storage and charging solutions is critical for setting a consistent experience for faculty, staff and end users. It ensures that:
- Initial and ongoing support and training on device storage, syncing and charging can be streamlined and simplified – ultimately saving significant time for the already overloaded staff.
- Best practices can be shared from classroom to classroom or school to school – such as color coding Baskets to device covers to streamline the check in and check out of devices, or using Baskets to distribute devices in specific work pods or groups.
- A positive experience is realized from the beginning. When providing incomplete solutions to educators and students – just devices, with no way to secure, distribute, charge and store devices – they ultimately can become frustrated with the technology and see it as an added stressor.
- Cost savings are realized – by looking at a complete package for their deployment versus a piece by piece solution, districts can expect more significant cost savings and price breaks from their IT vendors.
“Something that should always be considered while planning a mobile device deployment is device deployment workflow. Without a doubt, one of the most frustrating points of a deployment is the realization that devices are underutilized or the deployment of the devices is slow and frustrating for users and teachers,” said James Symons, CEO of LocknCharge. “Think through how the devices will be deployed to users such as: Will classrooms share a Cart? Will each classroom have their own Cart? Will devices be distributed one-by-one with students carrying an armful of devices or will teachers distribute them? Will devices be assigned to work groups or whole classrooms? Answering these questions before a deployment can not only impact the storage and charging solution that is selected, it can greatly improve the usage and satisfaction people have with the devices.”
LocknCharge also works with some of the largest partners in the industry, such as CDW-G and Google, on developing packages for schools to try both devices and its Carts at the same time. When users experience the entire ecosystem of their deployment with LocknCharge Carts or Charging Stations they will see how the products make their lives, and deployments, easier. Once a solution has been solidified, it is increasingly a best practice to specifically identify on the bid the devices, Carts and Charging Stations that are sought in order to lock in the best pricing, assure that the desired products are available on the scheduled needed and to assure consistency of the mobile deployment solution within a given district.
Deployments of mobile devices can range from trials with 20 to 30 devices, to multi-school, district-wide deployments of 20,000 or more devices. Deployment types can range widely from one-to-one models, to a shared device model to a combination of the two models, depending on the age of students or preferences of the school districts. Deployments are as diverse as the districts throughout the USA and they can be enhanced by assuring the right partners are brought in early to provide insight and best practices for deployments.
Smooth Customer Deployment and What They Did Right
Coachella Valley Unified School District (CVUSD) has been extremely successful at deploying over 21,000 iPads® to every student from K-12 in one of the poorest districts in the country by having a clear vision, building a cross functional team with a strong leader, bringing in trusted vendors and partners to offer best practices and solutions, engaging their community on the deployment and by continuing to refine their processes as they learned through pilots and deployment.
Dr. Darryl Adams, superintendent of CVUSD, provided a clear vision for the deployment: to level the playing field with technology for their disadvantaged students. The district built a cross-functional team, led by Michelle Murphy, chief technology officer of CVUSD. The team continually tweaked processes and work flows through the pilot and mass deployment. Additionally, CVUSD brought in trusted partners and vendors, including LocknCharge, to offer best practices and provide technology insights from the beginning. By structuring their deployment with a pilot first, they were able to gain key data points on the benefits of having iPads in the classroom. Also, by educating the community on the benefits of the mobile device deployment, they were able to pass a $42 million technology bond to fund the mass deployment.
Problems Confronting Schools Without Device Storage and Charging
LocknCharge was born when founder Paul Symons saw schools struggle with the security of devices. As a school teacher, he knew how frustrating it was for teachers and students when devices weren’t available for use when needed and he set out to solve this problem by creating security solutions for laptops in his backyard shed. These security solutions would go on to assure that devices were available when the students and staff needed them, and built instant fans throughout Australia.
As devices and technology in Education have evolved, so has LocknCharge. The company has experienced and heard from IT staff, teachers, administrators and end users of devices on common complaints such as:
- Difficulty in wiring Carts – sometimes taking an entire hour for one Cart
- Lines in the classroom for students to get devices, delaying teaching time
- Flimsy storage solutions that fall apart and have to be replaced in two years
- Unsecure storage solutions that allowed devices to be stolen
- Distribution of devices involves bending down to pick up a stack of devices and often dropping and breaking devices
- A classroom can tie up an entire cart of devices, even if they aren’t all needed
- Inconsistent charging and syncing of devices
Every school going through deployment must find a solution to these concerns or they risk having inconsistent adoption and support of the mobile device deployment with faculty, staff and end users. Designed for Education, LocknCharge products solve each and every one of those concerns. These Carts save time on wiring and can be wired in as few as five minutes! Teachers gain teaching time by safely distributing devices in Baskets by LocknCharge – on average five minutes per distribution time is saved by distributing devices this way. Ultimately, reducing what we like to call tech-to-teach time (the amount of time it takes for technology to be deployed and for teaching to begin). For example, in a district with 125 Carts, being used twice per day, four days a week, 32 weeks a year, this can save 160,000 minutes per year or 32 hours per student each year.
Features that Maximize Value and Lifespan of Products
A universal design is key to support future changes in the schools’ mobile products. Administrators and IT staff should look for Carts and Charging Stations that are designed to support multiple device types, like LocknCharge’s Carrier 30 Cart™, Carrier 40 Cart™ and EVO 40 Carts™. Accommodating several devices of several different sizes – from Chromebooks to tablets to iPads – ensures that the Cart or charging station has a longer shelf life and can be easily used for deployments of mixed device types. In addition, because technology changes so quickly, assure that the solution is upgradeable and modular. This allows a single Cart to go from a Charge only to a sync and charge solution, without buying a whole new Cart.
A second key feature administrators should look for is security of the product. Deployments are very high profile within a community and, as such, assuring that these devices are secured from potential theft is critical. If a storage and charging solution can easily be broken into, the district stands to lose tens of thousands of dollars.
A third key feature to look for is a product which is extremely durable and can withstand the tough school environment so that schools don’t have to continually deal with purchasing new Carts or Charging Stations. Ideally, the solution will have a lifetime warranty to protect school investments.
For information, questions or advice in deploying mobile devices, LocknCharge is available to help at 888-943-6803 or visit lnc.emmixhosting.com.au.