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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Healthy Devices, Healthy Employees: 5 Tips for a Safe Return to Work

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Is your organization preparing for remote employees to return to the office? Keep in mind, when your team members come back, so do their contaminated laptops, tablets and phones. Streptococcus, MRSA and E. coli have all been found lurking on devices. Nonporous surfaces like smartphone screens can also make them a perfect environment for the coronavirus.

As an employer, it’s your responsibility to have infection control policies, procedures and training in place. You must also provide infection control supplies. If an organization doesn’t take reasonable steps to protect employees, it could be held liable for a coronavirus transmission in the workplace.

As you create a plan for a safe return to work environment, it’s essential to include steps to mitigate the risks of maintaining and sharing devices in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. We’re here to help with five tips to reduce the spread of smartphone bacteria and infections by improving sanitization and limiting physical interactions.

The more layers of effective interventions that are implemented, the less likely your business will contribute to the spread of COVID-19.
—Cleveland Clinic
Tip 1: Clean Your Hands and Your Devices

No single tactic for keeping employees safe is 100% effective, advises the Cleveland Clinic. However, multiple layers of effective interventions serve as safeguards when used together. “The more layers of effective interventions that are implemented, the less likely your business will contribute to the spread of COVID-19.” In addition to masks, social distancing, routine cleaning and frequent handwashing, device sanitization can reduce infection risk and increase workplace device safety.

By touching a contaminated surface, then texting and making calls, your phone can become a culprit for spreading infection. By lowering germs on surfaces through proper sanitization methods, you’ll break free from the endless loop of cross-contamination.

While alcohol-based wipes will disinfect touch screens, they take upwards of three minutes to be effective. The UVone™ UV-C Disinfection Station is a better way to disinfect touchscreens because it works in just 30 seconds—six times quicker than traditional wipes. UV-C light also disinfects in a consistent manner, making it more reliable and efficient than wipes. Plus, it is the perfect zero touch solution to ensure technology cleanliness and does not degrade the integrity of devices over time.

Tip 2: Create an Overnight Charging Location for Shared Devices

Recently, the Little Friends® nonprofit agency transitioned back to in-person schooling at its new facility. With staff and students’ health and safety in mind, plexiglass partitions were installed, social distancing and mask protocols were adopted, and a nightly cleaning schedule was implemented. In addition to these mitigation measures, the administrators sought a way to give parents the assurance that shared iPad devices were routinely sanitized. They also needed a comprehensive strategy for charging, storing and securing shared iPad devices.

The decision was made to mount a UVone next to a Carrier™ 10 Charging Station in each classroom so that devices can be quickly sanitized before storing and charging overnight. This overnight charging solution goes beyond a school setting to fit into any work environment.

If your employees share tablets or hand-held devices, a designated overnight charging location in your office gives everyone peace of mind. Your staff will know that their shared devices are disinfected and fully charged at the start of each shift. You’ll have the confidence that company devices are stored securely and not at risk for costly data breaches.

Tip 3: Deploy a Zero-Touch Model for Maintaining Mobile Devices 

Maintaining social distancing protocols is challenging when broken equipment needs to be exchanged and new equipment distributed. One way to make office-based employment safer is through contactless device distribution. Here are just three of the ways FUYL Towers can eliminate physical interactions between IT teams and employees. Start by choosing an accessible location at your facility to place one or more FUYL Tower 5 or 15 stocked with sanitized, ready-to-go devices, then:

  • Deploy devices
    For employees who need a new device, provide easy access to tablets and laptops.
  • Provide Loaner/Break-Fix Devices
    For employees who need to exchange a broken device or check out a loaner, easily swap the failed device or provide a replacement.
  • Distribute Other Essential Equipment

For employees who need more than just a laptop to perform their jobs, simplify the distribution of tools, paperwork, lost cables and more.

Tip 4: Don't Forget Your Remote Workforce 

Despite many schools and offices reopening, the remote workforce is not going away in a post-Covid world. Recent forecasts estimate at least 25% of employees will continue to work from home multiple days a week. If your staff is fully or partly remote, technology mishaps are bound to happen at home or as they’re lugging devices to and from the office. Not to mention the increase in forgotten charging cords, power supplies and other vital equipment.

When nearly 20% of mobile devices break or go missing each year, the burden usually falls on IT staff. These responsibilities drain your tech team’s time, and broken devices add significant downtime for employees who can’t work.

Have you ever asked yourself just how much time your IT department wastes physically running around gathering and replacing broken devices or supplying cables? By centralizing and automating your time-wasting manual break/fix program with a smart charging locker, you could save hundreds of hours a year. A FUYL Tower 5 or 15 allows you to keep several devices charged, secure and connected in a location in your building that onsite workers or nearby remote workers can access. With FUYL Towers, a manual process that once took an hour to complete now takes less than a minute!

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Tip 5: Lean on Us

We’re on your team, helping to plan your defense against the spread of germs and keep your office-based employees and remote workforce healthy! In such a tumultuous time, technology that works for today and is flexible for the future is more valuable than ever. LocknCharge products are backed by a lifetime warranty, exceptional customer support, and a lot of good listeners.

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Little Friends Plans for a Safe Return to In-Person Schooling

February 15, 2021  |  Warrenville, IL

Background

Since 1965, the Little Friends® non-profit agency has been fulfilling lives regardless of challenge. Their groundbreaking programs empower people of all ages experiencing autism and other intellectual and developmental disabilities to live, learn, work and thrive in their communities.

Not long ago, Little Friends moved to a new facility and can now provide more programming to the growing needs of those they serve. As school closures caused by the pandemic started to lift, Little Friends began preparing for students to safely return to full-time, in-person learning.

Challenge

Health and Safety Concerns

Before coming back to in-person learning, staff and students’ health and safety, especially in the classroom, were top priorities. Plexiglass partitions were installed, social distancing and mask protocols were adopted, and a nightly cleaning schedule was implemented. In addition to these mitigation measures, Little Friends sought a way to give parents peace of mind that shared iPad devices would also be routinely sanitized.

Variety of Devices Needs

The organization prides itself on providing programs for people of all ages, from toddlers to seniors–so it’s no surprise that device needs vary. Staff use mobile devices for record keeping, while teachers have laptops. iPads are available in Pre-K to 3rd-grade classrooms, and 4th graders and up are assigned Chromebooks. Various technology needs resulted in the need for a flexible solution to store, charge and lock many device types.

Smaller Class Sizes

With smaller class sizes, social distancing in the classroom is easy. Because class sizes are small with a max of 8 students per classroom, selecting compact charging and disinfection solutions was key. Products that are easily accessible and fit well in the daily routine for both staff and students were an essential requirement.

Solution

Like the comprehensive plan Little Friends creates for each child, they also needed a comprehensive strategy for charging, storing, securing and sanitizing shared iPad devices. Having worked with LocknCharge before, Mike Briggs, President & CEO of Little Friends, was very familiar with LocknCharge solutions. He made what he referred to as an “easy decision” to purchase 25 Carrier™ 10 Charging Stations and 25 UVone™ UV-C Disinfection Stations. 

Because the UVone units are mounted right next to Carrier 10 Charging Stations in classrooms, devices can be quickly sanitized before storing and charging overnight. The ability to select the proper charging station and pair it with a disinfection station ensured that the complete solution was tailored to their needs. Here are some other benefits these two solutions offer:

Rapid UV-C Technology with UVone

Fits into Any Environment

The UVone Station fits nicely in their overall in-person learning plans, and teachers are excited to have this technology in their classrooms.

Peace of Mind

Because iPad devices are shared by several students, UVone gives parents peace of mind that added precautions are being taken for mobile device disinfection.

Touchless

With touchless sensors, UVone reduces cross-contamination and is simple for kids to operate.

Funded

Like many schools across the U.S. that have tapped into the funding set aside in the CARES Act, Little Friends was able to leverage allocations through the allowable use for sanitization and cleaning to purchase UVone devices.

"UVone provides parents the confidence that shared devices are disinfected."

- Mike Briggs, President & CEO of Little Friends

Wall-Mountable Carrier Charging Stations

Compact

These compact charging stations look great and don’t occupy floor or counter space when mounted to a wall.

Reliable

Carrier 10 easily does the job it’s supposed to do–charging, storing and securing devices. Cables and charging supplies stay organized in a separate compartment, allowing for quick plug-in after each use.

Flexible

With eight students max per class, a smaller charging station with a lower capacity met the needs of their 1:1 program.

Compatible

Carrier Stations are universal, meaning they work with most devices–including iPads, Chromebooks, laptops and tablets–which can be deployed with ease using Baskets.

What’s Next?

With grants, Little Friends will continue to invest in state-of-the-art technology, including robots to assist children with speech therapy. They’re committed to creating tech champions who explore innovative digital technology. The leadership team at Little Friends understands that these investments bring an incredible opportunity to incorporate new methods of teaching and learning.

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Webinar: How to Integrate Break/Fix Workflow with FUYL Tower API

Originally Aired: 1/28/21

In this webinar, Jon Harrer, Technical Sales Rep at LocknCharge, covers how to integrate our FUYL Tower Smart Locker and LocknCharge Cloud software into an existing IT infrastructure.

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Reach out to Jon directly or "Contact Us" for a 60-day trial of FUYL Tower and the LocknCharge Cloud software.

Jon Harrer, Technical Sales Rep at LocknCharge
[email protected]  |  (920) 342-4258

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For more information, check out this article about streamlining and simplifying device exchange.

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