Too often we see schools looking for a single solution when it comes to technology, and not thinking about the bigger picture and how that product will integrate into their classrooms’ ecosystem to make life easier. But what exactly is an education ecosystem? According to the Oxford English Dictionary, an ecosystem is defined as “a complex network or interconnecting system”. Others define it as a “system or network of interacting parts” – or in other words, things or objects in one single environment that have to interact and connect with one another.
Ultimately, to create an effective ecosystem, educational resources need to seamlessly work together. If not, schools risk taking up significant chunks of time trying to integrate them.
With the increasing pressure on teachers to successfully manage their classrooms, whilst also raising attainment, it’s no wonder schools require products and resources that are not just cost efficient, but time efficient too. You don’t need me to tell you that classroom technology – computers and handheld devices in particular – continue to have a positive impact on education, and more and more schools are adopting them as a tool for teaching and learning, but are you considering the practical element too?
We know this is a real issue in schools because we’ve spoken to so many who have told us specifically that up to 70 hours per year in their classrooms are wasted when devices are packed up and plugged in for charging after a lesson. That’s a significant amount of time which could be used for teaching, but what’s the answer?
Firstly, it’s important that schools use suppliers that are considering the bigger picture themselves: the time-saving and management element of their products. Of course you want to hear about the benefits that their products offer where teaching and learning is concerned, but it’s about more than just that.
Once you’ve made a decision on the right devices for your schools’ needs, the next, and equally important consideration should be storage and charging, which it very often isn’t!
So what should you look out for?
Discuss your specific requirements with suppliers – tell them about your priorities and goals, and ask them to tell you how their solution addresses each of them. You require a solution that is quick to use, secure, efficient, and easy to manage; tell the supplier you need something that is guaranteed to save you time, so that you can focus on what you’re there for…teaching.
The first things to think about:
1. How many devices do you need to store?
2. Which devices do you have? Do you have Chromebooks, tablets, or iPads or a combination of these devices?
3. Do you need to charge only or sync and charge?
4. Will any of the devices be BYOD?
5. How long will it take to set up and wire the charging solution?
6. How will devices be deployed in the classroom or throughout a school? Will devices need to go up and down stairs or outside?
And a few additional points…
Ease of Use
This sounds obvious, but look at the carts or stations that will store, charge and sync devices. They need to be easy to use, easy to set up, and form an almost invisible part of the whole process.
Go for something that has been designed specifically to be flexible according to your individual classroom needs. Many of the carts and stations available can accommodate several different sized devices.
Power and Ventilation
Students need their devices to be fully charged at the beginning of the school day or lesson. Select a system with proprietary power management, which assures that the right amount of power is distributed to devices when charging.
Think about additional features, such as cable management, workspace and status displays, which all add to the value of a mobile cart or station solution. Some now include a basket system, which streamlines the process of distributing and collecting devices, which is ordinarily another time consuming task.
Unlike other solutions for charging and storing devices, LocknCharge solutions have the ability to save real time in the classroom because of their baskets and top-loading design. Make sure the suppliers you’re using are supporting teachers with strategies for success.
James Symons is an expert in mobile device deployments.