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.
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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.
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Businesses up and down the supply chain are undergoing a digital transformation. Everything from work orders to pick and pack checklists are being converted to digital formats as distribution centers, pet food manufacturers, and fast-food operators go paperless. As part of this digital revolution, technology for manufacturing, including iPads and industrial tablets, are deployed in manufacturing facilities to speed up transactions, complete jobs more quickly, and create more efficient workflows. Once used by consumers to read ebooks, more and more employees on shop floors are getting work assignments and making sense of information with smart devices and intelligent asset management.
Offering mobility and real-time data visibility to workers in the manufacturing and service industries equates to time savings and cost reductions. Here are just a few real-world examples:
Bearing and seal manufacturing company SKF witnessed productivity
from engineering staff armed with tablets. 
Office Depot Inc. has saved some
hours per year
in order-entry time by digitizing orders and transmitting them to the warehouse floor for processing on iPads. 
Tablets and Technology at Chick-fil-A allows cars to move through
than they do at a traditional speaker box drive-thru. 
The Challenges of Mobile Devices
Maintenance engineers awaiting repair requests and drive through attendants taking customer orders have the same challenge. Devices must be readily available and charged when their shifts start. If iPads and tablets are uncharged, lost, or broken, employees can’t perform their jobs, and companies lose time and money. When a device is down, your business loses both productivity and the capability of speeding up transactions.
Like other work-related tools, if you’re using a smart device to perform your day-to-day job, you’re probably not taking it home at the end of your shift. So it needs a place to be stored securely, and inmany cases, be connected and accessible for essential updates. Devices that aren’t physically secured are at an increased risk for data breaches. Are you willing to take the chance that your devices won’t be compromised? Losing valuable intellectual property and confidential data can cause a severe business disruption resulting in penalties, reputation damage and wasted employee time.
How do you make manufacturing more efficient? You can throw money at your mobile device challenges by hiring more people, creating more manual workarounds, or outsourcing the issue altogether—but what if you could avoid many of these road blocks and costs from the start? While it may not be possible to eradicate system and equipment issues, there are solutions to decrease device downtime. Watch how organizations overcome organizational challenges by leveraging the FUYL Tower by LocknCharge. An intelligent asset management system that charges, stores, secures, and manages assets for most mobile devices.
Keep Your Mobile Workforce Going with Smart Charging Lockers
The FUYL Tower comes in two sizes of either 5 or 15 individually-lockable compartments. Here’s how this solution eliminates many of the manual workflow processes of shared device programs:
At the start of each shift, workers use their assigned PINs or RFID badges to open an assigned locker and retrieve a device. At the end of the day, they put their devices back in a locker, where they will be charged and kept secure. In addition to physical security, the FUYL Tower’s embedded computer automatically applies security software updates as they become available. This feature ensures that for Towers connected to a network, security software is up to date and more prepared against cyber attacks. Easy peasy!
Device Loaner Program
What happens if a device goes missing, encounters a fatal error, or gets damaged during a shift? With an additional tower for “hot spares,” no time is lost getting devices into the hands of workers who need them. Your employees can simply use a PIN or swipe their RFID badge and be on their way with a loaner device for the day. The only time taken from an IT Member’s or a media specialist’s day is providing the PIN or RFID access. Alternatively, through the use of API, automation rules that work best for your business can be created to help streamline device management for check in check out, break/fix, loaner devices, etc.
Seamless Integration of Existing Software
The key feature that allows the FUYL Tower to overcome organizational challenges is our API, which allows seamless integration of existing software and business processes. Incorporate FUYL Towers easily into your existing IT infrastructure with remote access and Tower administration via an Intelligent Management Platform. FUYL Towers are network enabled, and an optional Network Kit can expand network capability to each individual compartment to enable device updates and re-imaging while securely stored within the FUYL Tower.
To put it simply, because the Tower can communicate with the devices inside, updates can be made remotely. For example, our API allows you to send work orders to specific devices as they sit securely in a locker overnight, so your workers are ready to start their day without missing a beat.
If you’re curious how an Intelligent Asset Management System® could integrate into your operational workflow, we’re here to help. LocknCharge exists to make life easier for the users of mobile technology by creating solutions that ensure accessibility and usability of devices at all times. Get in touch with LocknCharge.