More than 90 percent of Americans own a cellphone, 32 percent own an e-reader and 42 percent own a tablet computer. Schools are facing a burgeoning amount of tablet usage in their classrooms, whether that be BYOD, 1:1 or 1: to many. And it is falling on IT/Media to figure out how to best charge, sync, store and secure this investment.
There are a lot of questions to answer, and creating side-by-side comparisons of solutions will help. Use this information to help prioritize your needs so that when you start evaluating solutions, you know where to draw the line. Whether to leverage assets or to meet space challenges, here are a few things to consider:
1. Choose mobility for larger quantities of devices
With wide casters for easy moving across multiple surfaces, and storage to house multiple devices at a time, a charging cart is your best bet. Plus, it can easily be rolled into a closet to be locked up for the night. Here are some questions to think through cart options:
- Will the devices be used exclusively in one class or will they be shared across the building?
- Will they be stored by the teacher in the classroom or should they be housed in the Media Center or IT manager’s office?
- Is it important to be able to visually check whether a device is plugged in properly and charging?
- Is it secure? Will the locking mechanisms deter theft?
2. Choose fixed or desktop options for small quantities
If you need to only manage a small number of devices, look for charging stations that can either be mounted on the wall or will sit on a desk or countertop. Take into consideration the following:
- Does it offer a low profile to help avoid interfering with flow of students or staff around the room?
- Consider the size of charging slots if the devices have cases; not all charging systems are created equal
- Can the unit scale if class or device requirements grow?
- Is security an issue? Do you need to lock up the device or is it safe to leave them in an open environment?
- Ease of access to device is important, look for units that make device insertion and retrieval a snap
3. Also important, choose safety!
Whether rolling out 20 devices or 1000, don’t forget the electrical requirements. Look for products that are UL labeled for the whole unit, not just the components. Charging station that have been designed to be a safe product requires redundant safety features, special abuse tests; both component and full system level certifications to all government standards is ideal when used in public places such as schools. Whether adults are the only ones interacting with the unit, or if students engage with it too, look for products that are rugged and suit the environment where they are being placed. Learn more about safe product design.
It’s fascinating to watch where the future of classroom technology is going. 360° classrooms, sit-stand learning environments, no barriers cyber-education…each new adoption faces its challenges. Being prepared means doing your homework ahead of making a purchasing decision. When you do integrate that new solution and it’s a winner for staff and students give yourself a gold star or take an Instagram selfie—some IT geekery is allowed!
Or you can do what most people do, visit Charging.ergotron.com to see side-by-side comparisons of our device charging carts, wall mounts, and desktop units. We have a very broad selection all in one place for you to review.
And of course, I’d be happy to answer any of your questions.
By Sheila Veschusio, Ergotron Education Industry Manager
 Pew Internet Mobile Technology Fact Sheet- http://www.pewinternet.org/fact-sheets/mobile-technology-fact-sheet/