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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Smarter Device Management & Workflows with Former K12 and University Tech Leader

Join LocknCharge to learn how to streamline multiple student device workflows to save your IT Team valuable time and money by efficiently managing student devices.

Guest speaker, Will Reid, will offer his unique perspective on these device workflows, and how he related to these challenges as a former CTO at Pulaski County Special School District and DIT at Texas Tech University.

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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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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]charge.com  |  (920) 342-4258

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

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How to Improve the Retail Customer Experience with Mobile Solutions

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“Technology is rewriting operating models across every sector of the economy, but nowhere do we feel this more in our day-to-day lives than in retail.”
– McKinsey & Company

New technologies, such as iPad POS systems, have changed the way businesses operate, enhancing efficiency and productivity as well as reducing costs and boosting profits. You may not think of your local grocery store or nearby outlet mall as hubs for innovation, but the retail industry is on the cutting edge of the emerging tech explosion, especially when it comes to mobile solutions that enhance customer shopping experiences. As McKinsey & Company states, “Technology is rewriting operating models across every sector of the economy, but nowhere do we feel this more in our day-to-day lives than in retail.”

The Retail Shift to Mobile

Retailers see customers with a mobile devices as opportunities to push location-based notifications with offers and coupons, give information on where to find items in a brick-and-mortar stores, and create additional purchase options if an item is out of stock. Technology for retailers is also simplifying the checkout process by offering mobile payment or scan-and-go, which bypasses the checkout line completely. 

These days, many retailers are shifting their focus by offering mobile solutions for associates too. According to the BRP POS/Customer Engagement Survey, mobile devices and tablets are growing faster than other technology in stores, with some retailers phasing out kiosks and traditional POS terminals.

Mobile devices in the hands of customer-facing associates enhance the customer experience by facilitating faster checkouts, collecting customer data and viewing accurate inventory status in real-time. Behind the scenes, these tools improve efficiency when used by employees for processing buy online/pickup in store (BOPIS) orders and in conjunction with “smart shelves” for restocking.

 “Many retailers are scrambling to adjust to the ‘Amazon Effect’ and are exploring order fulfillment automation to try to increase the speed and flexibility of operations in order to compete with Amazon.”
- Forbes

Mobility Solutions for Seamless Warehousing

The pandemic has accelerated the e-commerce trend, with online order volumes exploding at historic levels. 2020 online shopping growth in the U.S. jumped more than 30% year-over-year. The sudden shift to online shopping from physical locations have accelerated omnichannel retail trends, such as BOPIS, curbside-pickup, and home delivery. “Many retailers are scrambling to adjust to the ‘Amazon Effect’ and are exploring order fulfillment automation to try to increase the speed and flexibility of operations in order to compete with Amazon,” explains Forbes.

Three mobility automation solutions in warehouse technology that are helping retailers meet new challenges.

  • Tablet-enabled Robots: Retailers use autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) such as the Locus Robotics 3PLs for fulfillment warehouses to cost-effectively keep up with huge demand, customer expectations, and limited labor availability.
  • Zebra Printers: Bluetooth-enabled mobile thermal printers generate high-quality receipts for BOPIS customers who enjoy online-quality convenience at a physical store.
  • Handheld Scanners: Barcodes make it possible to track inventory more accurately while scanning devices allow warehouse workers to quickly locate, pick, ship, and deliver products seamlessly to customers. Smart shelving can also be connected to handheld devices, so employees know when goods are received, placed on a shelf, or leave the warehouse.
Devices like tablets and smartphones make it easier for employees to work anywhere, increasing productivity and responsiveness.
Why Mobilize?

To better understand the drivers behind workforce mobilization and best practices of those deployments, we surveyed over 15,000 organizations for a data-driven look at the current state of workforce mobilization. Our survey found that 86% of organizations are now in the research or pilot phase of deploying devices. Respondents embrace workplace mobilization for three key reasons:

1. Improve Communications

Mobilization helps employees and customers connect more easily and generates speedier response times. Facilitating faster checkout with a mobile POS in a retail environment can also positively influence revenue. Not to mention, “Mobile POS lowers the overall cost of ownership by eliminating or minimizing the need for ‘big iron’ (a thick-client cash register) at store level and virtually eliminating annual hardware maintenance fees,” explains BRP

2. Faster Transaction Processing

Faster transaction processing is a major contributor to the push toward mobilization. Devices like tablets and smartphones make it a breeze for employees to work anywhere, increasing productivity and responsiveness.

3. Eliminating Manual/Paper Processes

What 66% of organizations seek to impact most by eliminating manual processes is reduced operating overhead and increased revenue. A sales associate in a retail environment armed with a mobile POS can check out customers on the spot, increasing customer store sales, inventory turnover, and upsell opportunities.

Think Beyond Rollout for Successful Mobile Deployment

Because so many organizations are still in the early stages of mobile deployment, their goal may be to simply get devices in employees’ hands. But it’s essential to think beyond rollout. The sustainability of mobile deployment also depends on answering questions like, “What happens when the devices aren’t in use? How can we secure and disinfect them? Where will they be stored?” Fortunately LocknCharge solutions hold the key successful mobilization projects with the answers to these questions.

Automate Time-Wasting Manual Processes and Minimize Device Downtime with FUYL Towers

While many devices are shared, only 27% of organizations have considered centralized storing or charging as part of their deployment. This is often because organizations are most concerned with selecting the device itself and the apps or content for the device. They aren’t thinking about how the devices will be deployed, charged, stored and secured when not in use. Because devices are prevalent in our daily lives, organizations tend to overestimate employees’ abilities to safely charge, store, and maintain their business devices. The LocknCharge FUYL Tower offers a complete hardware and software solution. Efficiently charge, store, secure and manage workflow for phones, tablets, handheld scanners and other mobile devices in individually-lockable compartments. FUYL Towers work seamlessly in the following situations:

  • Check in/out: Designate who can access the FUYL charging tower in advance or on the fly. Towers track who has taken a specific device and when it has been returned.
  • Shared Devices: Employees can easily share the same set of devices, no problem. Pre-set access to a specific locker to limit who can access each device. Employees can also charge, store and secure personal mobile devices during their shift. Like a school locker, but way better.
  • Break/Fix: Reduce device downtime and minimize the burden on your IT team by automating your break/fix workflow. Employees can quickly drop off a broken device in the FUYL Tower and retrieve a loaner device while theirs is being repaired.
Easily Integrate Mobile Devices into Your Workflow with Putnam Charging Stations

If ensuring device apps and data are up-to-date can be considered software maintenance, then storing, securing, and charging the device could be considered hardware maintenance. Multi-device charging stations such as Putnam™ 18 Tower or Putnam 8 and 16 Charging Stations save time by seamlessly integrating mobile devices into your workflow. They also contribute to reducing other mobilization pains, such as theft and loss, and offer these benefits:

  • A centralized point of charging with numbered slots ensures that devices are put back where they came from—and that they’re always charged and ready to go.
  • Only takes up as much desk space as a sheet of scrapbook paper. Now that’s compact!
  • Putnam 18 Tower slot dimensions are optimized to work with many different devices.
  • Putnam 8 and 16 Charging Stations feature an external LED lights show deivce charging status so users alays know which devices are charged and ready to go.
Increase Hygiene Compliance with UVone UV Disinfection for Mobile Devices

Most stores and warehouses are now focusing on strict CDC recommended disinfection regimes, including cleaning objects and surfaces that are frequently touched, such as conveyor rollers, packaging equipment, tablets, phones and keyboards. As mobile device usage becomes more widespread in retail, sanitization of these often-used tools is even more critical. UVone UV-C disinfection for mobile devices helps mitigate the spread of viral bacteria anywhere devices are being used or shared and includes these features:

  • Compatible with almost any device.
  • Works in just 30 seconds, making it six times quicker than traditional wipes.
  • With touchless sensors, users never physically touch the station, reducing cross-contamination.
  • Reduces SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, by 99.99%*—which is 10x more effective than leading disinfecting wipes.

Schedule a Live Product Demo

Mobile deployments within retail are exploding. Luckily LocknCharge has solutions that retailers like Tiffany, Hugo Boss, Clarins and more have found perfect for storing, charging and securing devices when not in use. Learn more about our ideal solutions for the deployment of mobile devices in your store or warehouse.

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*LocknCharge's kill rate claims are based on data conducted by accredited, BSL-compliant laboratories. For more information about our testing data, please visit www.lockncharge.com/uvone-testing-data.

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