Category Archives: Education

A back-to-school charging cart story

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The other day I picked up my husband from work. He’s a fourth-grade teacher at a St. Paul school in Minnesota. Since we’ve been talking to a lot of educators and administrators about our new LearnFit® Adjustable Standing Desk, I took this opportunity to check out his classroom and chat with him to research the flow of his day.

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I also wanted to see this charging cart he’d been complaining about. He couldn’t remember the brand name but he said it was a big mess. He said only about half of his students were plugging in their devices because the cables were so tangled; he often couldn’t even get the door closed because of the cords! He was right, it was chaos. ErgotronYesChargingCart

He told me I should see another fourth-grade teacher’s cart. “It’s awesome,” he said, glowing. “The devices almost plug themselves in.” I had to check out this paragon of virtue, a little daunted that it might be a competitor’s cart.

Happy to say, it was one of our YES® Charging Carts. I think these pictures pretty much tell the whole story.

What’s your cart story?

Angela Swenson, Director, Global Channel Marketing

TIPS FOR TAMING TECH CHAOS IN THE CLASSROOM

Are you an educator looking for new strategies for organizing your classroom routines and trouble zones? Consider these tech tips for a fall refresh:

Choose a cart, locker, or other charging system that’s compatible with a wide range of devices. One size does not fit all, so make sure your system matches your laptops, tablets, or handhelds. That way, you can mix and match devices today, and your charging solution won’t become obsolete tomorrow.

Locate your system logistically in the classroom, office or media center. It should be out of the way in crowded spaces, but within easy reach for convenient distribution of devices before, after or during class. Sometimes closets or other nooks can serve as charging stations.

Quality, well-made products are durable enough to withstand abuse, the kind that only kids can dish out, but even then… Avoid broken shelves, dismantled cords and jammed locks which require IT to track down replacement parts or call in vendors, such as locksmiths.

Train students to use a gentle touch and act responsibly around technology. Talk to them seriously about the value of the equipment they’re using and what an honor it is to be “tech pioneers.” Not every classroom has the advantage of these devices.

Have a conversation with fellow educators to learn successful strategies for integrating technology into education. You may find that your young, inexperienced peers are comfortable with tech and can give you digital tips and tutorials. Older, seasoned peers may be able to offer good advice on classroom management and how to inspire students. Or the opposite.

Make use of online resources, too. For example, check out the back-to-school posts on the Ask a Tech Teacher blog. In addition to advice, you’ll find over 100 free EdTech lesson plans from a group of savvy contributors. Read away!

Personalized, flexible classrooms

We think the future of classroom furniture is personalized flexibility. What do we mean by that? To adapt to the fluid environment of their classrooms, teachers need equipment that allows them to change their teaching style at a moment’s notice. And kids deserve desks that enable full engagement with the teacher and classmates, as the subject and assignment dictate.

Ideally, classroom furniture should help keep the entire class focused on the learning process, the teacher’s attention on the subject at hand, and both adaptable to the best possible presentation of the knowledge at any given moment.

“To achieve our visions, classroom furniture must be intuitively flexible, for teachers to teach in a very flexible, personalized way, and in a way that’s personalized to the students as well.” ­– Bob Hill, Ergotron Education Manager

What are the results for classes that share our vision? Some teachers shared their experiences with Ergotron’s LearnFit desks.

“Not only does it engage kids, but it sort of frees you to do whatever it is that you need to do in your room, when you can easily move everything around.” – Monica Escobar, 5th Grade Teacher, Arts and History, Alexandria Country Day School

“I’ve noticed that my higher level kids are performing even higher than normal, and my lower level kids are also performing higher.” – Keri King, Biology Lead Teacher, Lamar High School

Watch the video to learn more about the benefits of personalized flexibility in the classroom.

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Ergotron’s FitForward™ program gives back

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For decades, Ergotron has been helping computer users like you have a healthier, more active workday. And now our joint passion for wellness can impact future generations. When you purchase WorkFit® or ErgotronHome™ Lift 35 products, Ergotron donates LearnFit® Adjustable Standing Desks to schools across the country. Together, we can give our children the life-changing benefits of active learning, decrease sedentary time in the classroom and set our youth on a course of lifetime wellness.

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Betsey Banker, Ergotron’s Vertical Marketing Manager for Wellness, explains how you can be a part of paying “fit” forward:

It’s inspiring to see so many organizations taking a stand for employee wellness with products like WorkFit. Most have read the research about the many benefits of standing up while working and now they’re seeing the difference in their employees. It makes sense that other sedentary places, like classrooms, could benefit from these same discoveries. That’s what makes FitForward so great. Doing something good for yourself, your coworkers or your employees is helping deliver the same benefits to students.”

In the coming weeks, we’ll feature profiles of some of the students, teachers and schools this new program is influencing towards a healthier learning environment.

To learn more about this initiative, visit the FitForward page of our website.

Active classroom benefits gain global spotlight

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Video courtesy of www.ccma.cat.

Good news! Reports about how standing desks are helping students to learn have crossed the Atlantic. Recently a number of European television stations have covered this educational phenomenon.

Spain’s Televisio de Catalunya sent reporter Raquel Sans to Virginia’s Alexandria Country Day School to see how Ergotron’s LearnFit™ Adjustable Standing Desks help create an active learning environment. According to teachers and administrators, middle-school students are more productive now, and can stay focused and attentive for longer periods.

For more information on this and other Spotlight Classrooms around the world using our sit-stand student desks, visit Ergotron.com/spotlight.

Classrooms of the future need the right furniture

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By Bob Hill, Ergotron Global Education Manager

Have you noticed? While there is little doubt that classrooms have become more sophisticated and digital, the physical classroom setting and furniture don’t seem to have evolved at the same pace.

It’s true.

The tablets and devices that are transforming the learning process still sit on top of the same style desks from the 1950s. The blackboards and chalk may have been replaced by interactive whiteboards connected to a computer or projector, but far too often, students still sit in stagnant rows looking up in the same direction at the teacher for the daily lesson.

While curriculum modernization creates opportunities for teachers and students to use the classroom space more effectively, traditional classroom furniture does not. In order for the classroom to truly evolve, teachers, principals and district administrators need to address the entire classroom environment.

Consider this about classroom furniture:

  • Classroom furniture at the most foundational level should enhance the educational tools and technology it’s supporting. At an aspirational level, it should also support the teachers’ curriculum, the students’ health, comfort and learning styles. This requires a fundamental change in thinking as schools adopt 1:1 technology, requiring analysis of what else is changing in association with the technology.
  • Facilitating the move from traditional lectures to more group-based, collaborative and active environments requires adjustable and highly mobile furniture for both students and teachers. Stationary desks do not lend themselves to an active classroom nor do they facilitate a group-dynamic or mobile learning environment that has become so prevalent in today’s educational system.
  • A desk that is both height-adjustable and mobile will foster an individualized learning environment that addresses these issues and offers a myriad of benefits to teachers, students and the school.

Why adjustable desks?

Access to adjustable furniture has been proven to help reduce fidgeting distractions, give teachers more time to teach, increase student engagement, improve academic performance and enliven curriculum. In addition, the rising concerns about childhood health issues are addressed when students are given an alternative to sitting all day—introducing standing into the classroom is an effective means to break up sedentary behavior. We’ve seen this played out dozens of times in our LearnFit® ambassador schools across the country.

Input from surveys, interviews and case studies have all demonstrated that teachers prefer desks that facilitate movement and that students adapt to them intuitively. These types of desks foster collaborative learning while satisfying a child’s need for motion and allow for the teacher to use every inch of the environment for instruction.

Given today’s intersection of technology and education, the classroom set-up is at a crossroads. Schools like the Alexandria Country Day School in Virginia get the critical role classroom furniture can play in making today’s classrooms healthier, more collaborative and more conducive to learning even as schools prepare for the next wave of digital instruction.

It is time to “stand up” for important and fundamental changes for today’s classroom and the classroom of the future.

Bob Hill, Global Education Manager, @LearnFit_Bob

Bob Hill, Global Education Manager, @LearnFit_Bob

Visit us at ISTE in Denver, booth #1515

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The ISTE Conference & Expo has been the premier forum for sharing groundbreaking ideas, unveiling new learning technologies and forming collaborations with the power to impact classrooms worldwide. Visit Ergotron/Anthro booth #1515 to get a glimpse at what Ergotron brings to the education market in 2016. Some highlights:

New! Ergotron LearnFit Sit-Stand Desk

Transform classrooms into active learning environments with on-demand sit-stand desks. With the simple squeeze of a hand lever, kids can change from sitting to standing. The first-generation LearnFit was named a 2016 Bronze Award Winner by the internationally renowned Edison Awards and endorsed by the Global Educator Institute (GEI).

Joyce R., a GEI reviewer and teacher in Florida says:
“I mainly use the LearnFit with a student who has disabilities and has an IEP that allows him to stand and be close to the classroom door. This desk is perfect for him. We can roll it closer to the door and he can stand up and work. Before, when he needed to use his laptop, he would have to sit because the table is too low for him. He always felt uncomfortable and was distracted easily. Using this product allowed him to be more comfortable and much less distracted!”

Top Seller! Ergotron YES Charging Carts and Cabinets, for Mini-Laptops and Tablets.

These flexible charging solutions can adjust to say YES to all your devices, now and in the future. Mix and match laptops, tablets, smartphones, and handhelds. Units offer compact and secure charging while saving valuable floor space in cramped classrooms and offices. Built with Anthro-DNA, they’re also TAA compliant.

Tracey, a reviewer and educator in North Carolina, gave the YES Cart five stars for security:
“This past winter one of the carts was really put to the test. We had a break in over the winter holidays but our Chromebooks were safe! The top of the cart had been pummeled by a hammer. The hammer marks were very clear but the cart remained locked and the thieves left the cart with the Chromebooks inside!”

Drop by our booth #1515, see the mock classroom, take all of our products for a spin, or enter one of our contests. We are giving away 3 products at 3 PM every day and have a grand prize that will excite! You’re sure to walk away a winner.

Protect your digital devices from vandalism and theft

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Last year, over winter break, vandals broke into a North Carolina elementary school and attempted to steal digital devices from the instructional technology lab. They took a hammer to the top of the cart, the YES36 Charging Cart for Mini-laptops, because the cart’s doors were securely padlocked. Unfortunately, this event is played out in similar educational institutes around the country. Device security was never a more important topic on IT agendas.

Happily, in the case of this school, the vandals were thwarted. This is one example of why choosing a  cart with a tough exterior finish and the sturdy overall construction should be a line item on the “must have” list for a charging system roll out at your school. The top of the cart was damaged (see below) and showed multiple marks, but the school was able to replace just the top to get the cart back to pristine condition and back in operation.

Law enforcement officials warn that break-ins are common, especially during holiday vacations, and that there’s only so much that a school can do to avoid theft and vandalism. Security measures, such as spiked iron fences, iron-shuttered windows, and motion sensors, may stop young pranksters but not professional operators, who have ways of counteracting those safeguards.

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So what can a school do to protect its investment in digital technology? First of all, make sure to choose the right solution for your environment, whether it is a wall mount, desktop or cart charging system. In addition, the unit must be tough enough to withstand common educational rigors, such as rough handling by unruly students.

Finally, consider these security features when comparing charging systems:

  • Is a standard locking feature enough, or does it need more (keyed door plus padlock, etc.)?
  • Does it need additional security brackets that will lock the locking system to the floor or wall?
  • Can the unit be rolled into another secured area at night, such as a locking closet?

At Ergotron, we’re always looking for new ways to keep your tablets, laptops, and handheld devices safe, charged, and ready for use. That way, as educators, you have peace of mind, knowing your edtech investments are well-secured, and so you can focus on what you do best – teach.

 

The importance of safety certification for charging systems

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No doubt you have already been through at least one or two technology decisions for your school, choosing devices that will meet your student and curriculum needs. Just as you discovered that you weren’t always comparing Apples to eReaders, the same is true with the charging systems that keep your devices powered up and in play throughout the school day. There is a tendency to assume that all charging systems are safe, but this is not always true. In fact, all device charging systems are not created equal.

Therefore, it is equally important to choose a charging products that has been safety certified by a third-party organization and that the system is being evaluated as a complete and integrated system. It is important to require this of your supplier to ensure the safety of your devices, your facilities and your students.

Some manufacturers use individual components that are safety certified, but then combine them into a larger charging system that is not certified. Charging systems that are not evaluated and certified may exceed allowable load limits, thereby causing electrical arcing, facility problems and/or interaction and interference with other equipment. Safety certification also ensures that mechanical hazards such as user “pinch points,” tipping, sharp edges and crush/cut potential are mitigated.

What are the risks of using non-certified products? You may be surprised at how many there are. Here is a list of considerations when choosing the right systems for your campus:

  1. Critical materials are not fire resistant: This is a potential fire hazard if a battery or electrical fault occurs.
  2. Electrical hazards are not physically enclosed: Shock hazards exist if energized circuitry can potentially be touched either directly or if exposed metal is not safely grounded or properly isolated. Another fire hazard can exist if the enclosure can potentially let out flames or molten metal if an electrical fault occurs inside of the enclosure.
  3. Mechanical hazards are not mitigated: If not properly tested and certified, pinch points, tip, crush or cut, sharp edges, and moving parts can injure students and staff.
  4. Equipment ratings must meet National Electrical Code: Non-evaluated systems may exceed allowable load limits causing electrical arcing, facility problems and/or interaction and interference with other equipment.
  5. No manufacturing factory quality surveillance: Product quality and consistency must be managed and ensured.

Whether you are a choosing a small desktop unit for a back office, a wall unit for an AV center, or a full cart for laptops, tablets, Chromebooks, or netbooks in the classroom, safety should be a number one priority for all the stakeholders involved. Technology is meant to open up new worlds to the students, not new headaches for teachers and IT staff. Look for the certified safety labels or documentation and be sure to differentiate the whole system is safe.

Check out the educator resources on our website, including a grant writing kit, to power up every classroom safely and securely. Also, our charging matrix (PDF) can help you choose the right solution for your environment.

Bob Hill, Ergotron’s Global Education Manager

Bob Hill, Global Education Manager, @LearnFit_Bob

Bob Hill, @LearnFit_Bob

[Video] CNN takes thoughtful look at standing classrooms

CNN’s Kelly Wallace explores standing in the classroom at the Alexandria Country Day School in Virginia. The school added 128 Ergotron LearnFit™ Adustable Standing Desks to its middle school classrooms to improve students’ focus and increase their physical activity. Multiple Ergotron TeachWell® Mobile Digital Workspaces were also deployed to enable teachers to teach from a mobile, sit-stand platform. The products were funded through a $3 million gift from an anonymous donor in 2014, the largest in the school’s 32-year history. Learn more about other schools piloting standing desks at Ergotron.com/spotlight. Stay in the loop socially by sharing hashtag #schoolsthatmove on Twitter.

Teachers + philanthropists = #BestSchoolDay

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We came across something amazing for education recently – a surprise “flash funding” utilizing an online crowdsourcing site, DonorsChoose.org, to support our nation’s school kids. The campaign, #BestSchoolDay, brought together more than 50 celebrities, athletes, and philanthropists (such as Bill Gates) who fully funded 11,000 classrooms in 47 states to the tune of over $14 million.

Since 2000, DonorsChoose.org has been supporting teachers and students by making it easy to help a classroom in need. Their mission is to connect the public to public schools – so that students in every corner of this country have an opportunity to get a great education.

Though the one-day flash funding event took place on March 10th, you can still get involved. There are projects on the DonorsChoose.org site marked with a #BestSchoolDay match offer logo – that means you can double the impact of your donation.

Here’s a great example of a teched project with a match offer, called Chromebooks for Humanities. The request is for Chromebooks and an Ergotron charging cart for Mr. Woolums’s class at the Air Force Academy High School in Chicago.

Are you a public school teacher in need of funding? We recommend DonorsChoose.org as a good way to engage with community philanthropists and major corporations. The more people who know of your need, the better your chance of getting it met.  Start your first project here.

We know teachers are unsung heroes who open up so many doors for their students. That’s why we have educator resources on our website, including a grant writing kit, so that everyone has their #BestSchoolDay. Together, we can help kids do great things in the classroom, and beyond.