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Innovative storage for flexible tech teaching

There was a time when people thought ‘paperless schools’ would usher in the end of filing. Au contraire! Technology-focused schools require more storage than ever.

This article was penned for our Term 4 issue, out now!

Image courtesy of Student Lockers

Whether it’s student laptops or classroom smart devices, charging facilities or robotics equipment, there’s a lot of new ‘stuff’ to secure and store. The growth of outdoor learning and modern learning environments also mean that schools have to get more creative about how to store all this technology and how to charge devices between uses.

Here are some options we found that are available to Australian schools….

Laptop lockers and trolleys

Students use laptops in almost all learning areas, so fast charging capabilities are essential. There’s a reason everybody scans the room for a power outlet before choosing their seat: most buildings were not designed to have 30+ devices plugged in at the same time. Times have changed and enabling students to top-up devices, without creating a spider web of cords strewn around the floor, is key. Laptop lockers and device trolleys can help achieve this. They allow you to plug laptops and devices into individual, lockable slots where they will charge during breaks.

Laptop lockers are ideal for classrooms and libraries where devices do not need to be shared around the school and can live in their designated rooms. Tagging devices to their slots can assist IT, should any go missing or become faulty. Permanent lockers are designed not to overheat, usually with a perforated back or side, and offer fast-charging so that students using them later in the day don’t miss out.

Laptop trolleys offer a similar functionality but can be transported around the school. Handy and secure, they are ideal for use in a modern learning environment or during outside activities. Many of these trolleys have power settings to avoid overloading laptops as overcharged batteries weaken over time. They generally only use one outlet to power all of the devices; standard trolleys will hold between 20 and 35.

Technology storage for teachers

There are some flashy and exciting storage options for classroom technology in 2019 as electronic teaching aids and flexible learning environments become the norm. As with ILEs, school technology storage prioritises multi-functionality  and connectedness, with software now available to help schools manage the digital administration – even organise student payments for locker rental.

Dr Terry Byers recently wrote about research published in The British Journal of Education Technology. He details a study of the relationship between classroom layout and technology use, where teachers in ILEs were better at integrating technology into their practice. In traditional forward-facing classrooms, on the other hand, teachers were more likely to use technology as a content delivery tool.

Flexible technology storage takes many forms. There are huge wall units that combine whiteboards with device storage, charging capability and even mood lighting. These are great for locking away TVs and larger tools like printers. Mobile or floating storage options work well where wall space is limited and can be customised to store a variety of items; including projectors and special teaching aids, or fitted with pigeon holes and lockable drawers for BYOD schools or those implementing a phone ban.

Specific insights from industry experts

Student Locker founder Hubert van Mierlo took us through some new trends and options for schools.   

Locker administration systems are an exciting new trend. School lockers have traditionally been allocated to students manually, using spreadsheets or written notes. Either school administration staff attend to doing this or it is a task given to personnel in the uniform shop. In other cases, this is a task care of by teaching staff, faculty leaders or even deputy or assistant principals. If payments are involved (often public schools charge a nominal fee to cover costs), the admin burden becomes even larger and convenience for parents and students reduces.

Locker administration software can take care of most of these tasks, with online reservation, automatic or manual allocation lockers and can even take payment, removing most of the manual administration. Locker allocations can be looked up and managed throughout the year.

Johnson Peters from APC Group discussed device storage options for specific classroom needs.

A classroom needs to set the right tone for learning. Cluttered and unorganised classrooms can significantly affect the productivity of students. Purpose designed phone lockers and laptop lockers are ideal for the secure storage of smartphones, laptops and other devices. These lockers can be fitted with GPO and USB ports, so devices can be charged.

When it comes to the latest trends and technologies for school lockers, options include heavy duty plastic lockers made from high density polyethylene and Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene. These lockers are designed to suit gruelling amounts of use in all conditions. They are lightweight, easy to clean and are water resistant.  Heavy duty steel school lockers are another option. They have been designed with heavy gauge steel and reinforced doors to withstand rigorous use, making them ideal for high-use areas. Undoubtedly, one of the main reasons people invest in lockers is to ensure their belongings are kept safe and secure. Lockers are designed to be compatible with a variety of locking systems from traditional key-operated padlock locks, through to a large range of keyless locking options including RFID locks.

Phone lockers provide a solution for schools concerned about the distractions of smartphones. They are designed to allow students to bring their devices into school but provide a safe and secure place for them to be locked away during the school day. General power outlets and USB can be installed in each locker, so phones can be charged. Phone lockers can also be used for storing other small items and student medications such as EpiPens and asthma preventatives – which can be accessed with a master key in the case of emergency.

Rosie Clarke

Rosie is the managing editor here at Multimedia Pty Ltd, working across School News New Zealand and School News Australia. She has spent 10+ years in B2B journalism, and has spent some time over the last couple of years teaching as a sessional academic. Feel free to contact her at any time with editorial or magazine content enquiries.

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