Magazine article Technology & Learning

Shelf Space & Storage Solutions

Magazine article Technology & Learning

Shelf Space & Storage Solutions

Article excerpt

Student Assembly

In the summer of 2015, the two middle schools in the Barbers Hill (TX) Independent School District were getting Acer 740 Chromebooks for all of their classrooms. The high school already had Chromebook carts, and teachers had complained about them being time-consuming, with chargers and moveable parts. "We wanted to improve the situation for the middle schools," says Katie Russell, director of technology. "Luckily, we discovered PowerGistics' wall-mounted towers.'"

Although the PowerGistics' products were more expensive than the carts in the high school, Russell says they are totally worth it. "They have saved our teachers so much time," she says. "We call them our 'power towers.' They are rugged and haven't generated any help desk tickets."

Every summer, the tech department "hires" six student workers to serve as interns. Last summer, the students worked in two-person teams to assemble the towers. "It became a contest to see who could assemble the quickest," says Russell. "One guy worked very smart, and the goal was to beat his team." Once they were assembled, students drilled holes and installed them.

There's only one issue now, says Russell. "All the high school teachers are asking for 'power towers,' too! The PowerGistics' towers are one of the best investments I've made for our Chromebook initiative. They just work."

Easy Access = Quality Instruction

"We had other carts before I came, but a reseller introduced me to LocknCharge carts and I was hooked," says Michelle Murphy, chief technology officer (CTO) for Coachella Valley (CA) Unified School District (USD), a 1:1 iPad district for grades preK-12. She particularly liked the way LocknCharge stores devices in baskets and purchased 400 carts for her elementary schools (grades K-6). Each color-coded basket can hold up to 10 devices. "Now a teacher can say, 'Please get the blue basket for your table,' and the student can quickly do that. Everyone is happy," she says. "Teachers used to complain about the amount of time it took to get devices in and out of the former carts. With the baskets that issue went away."

The elementary teachers love being able to use the iPads so easily and on the fly. One class recently Skyped with a class in Australia to learn about cultural differences, such as how to play cricket. "We started with a group of pilot teachers and small pockets of greatness. Now the iPads are getting more integrated and the pockets have expanded," says Murphy.

A True Partnership

In 2014, Oakland (CA) USD was in serious need of a technology makeover. Sixty percent of classrooms reported lack of wireless access, most computers were in labs or located in the back of classrooms, and the majority of computers were more than four years old. With Common Core funding of $7 million, the district upgraded its network and bought 10,000 Dell Chromebooks and 250 Bretford NETBOOK36 carts with integrated access points (APs).

"We knew that for online testing we needed an equitable, supportable, standardized environment, but we had different computers and operating systems across the district," says CTO John Krull. "With the Bretford carts we were able to bolt on a Meraki AP and execute quickly."

After receiving some additional funding, the district removed the APs from the carts and put one in every classroom.

"The carts are good for securely storing our Chromebooks and moving them around. We developed a custom lock, and we've had no theft of carts," says Krull.

Oakland chose full-service delivery of carts from the company it purchased the Chromebooks from and Krull says that's been terrific. "The carts come all wired up with the Chromebooks in place, and the computers have an RF asset tag and a sticker with our naming convention. There are no empty computer boxes outside, advertising that we bought thousands of PCs." He's also been pleased to develop a strong partnership with Bretford. …

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