Aug 20 2021

On the Go: Mobile Learning Solutions for IT Teams

Charging carts and asset tagging support mobile learning in K–12 environments.

Since the shift to virtual learning, K–12 IT leaders have learned to leverage technology for increased flexibility. Device portability has proved key to supporting the new learning environment.

Whether they’re learning in class or at home, students need access to devices. Technologies such as asset tagging and charging carts help support students and educators, while making organization easier for IT staff.

The Importance of Mobile Tech Tools in Today’s Classroom Environment

Device portability reflects educators’ increasing awareness that conventional classroom learning isn’t everything.

“Optimal learning environments may not involve sitting at a desk in a row, looking at a whiteboard,” says Richard Culatta, CEO of the International Society for Technology in Education. “Often, it may involve working in a group or in another part of the school, or outside of the school or in a library. If we do not have an ability to have technology move with our students, we’re forcing them to learn in a physical environment that is not optimal for the skills that they’re learning.”

The changes made to learning during the pandemic helped drive home that lesson. Portability rose as a necessary feature for learning in the past year and a half, and it will likely continue to be important going forward.

“Teachers and students have adapted to and embraced the new digital reality, and regardless of where physical learning takes place, devices are the new classroom,” says Torsten George, vice president of product marketing for Absolute Software.

As a result, “device portability is now an absolute necessity to continue proper education and support students wherever they are learning from,” George adds.

This is important moving forward, as districts — and the nation — are increasingly uncertain of their plans thanks to the delta variant and others that may yet emerge. As students younger than 12 still cannot be vaccinated, many communities may once again rely on the flexibility afforded to them through portable educational technology.

READ MORE: Is virtual learning here to stay?

The Benefits of Mobile Learning Opportunities

Experts point to a number of key educational and social benefits that derive from a robust approach to device portability. For students, mobility increases learning opportunities, taking education beyond the traditional classroom.

“With mobile, students are not limited to the four walls of the classroom,” says Isabella Liu, a high school science and AP chemistry teacher at the University of Toronto Schools. “By leveraging various mobile apps, students can learn outside of the classroom as well.”

Paired with robust wireless connections, portability opens up the possibility of learning anywhere, and school-issued devices can round out that mobile experience. School-issued devices make it easier for students to access applications approved by the district’s IT team. These applications can then help them study, research or complete projects wherever they are, as long as they have access to their device.

“We want students to know that learning can happen anytime, anywhere in their lives,” Culatta said. “If the tools that we provide them to support their learning don’t follow them through all of the different parts of their life, then we’re not setting them up for success.”

Asset Tagging and Asset Management Tools Support Mobile Technology

Asset tagging and asset management tools enable IT teams and school administrators to accurately track their ever-expanding device inventories. With the move to one-to-one devices, these tools have become increasingly vital to K–12 IT teams’ strategies.

60%

The percentage of school principals who have adopted one-to-one programs for classroom instruction; 53% subsequently reported more effective use of technology and educational benefits in core subjects

Source: The International Society for Technology, Education and Science, “Teachers’ Voices in One-to-one Technology Integration Professional Development Programs,” January 2021

“Asset tags are identifier codes or labels that allow support staff to monitor and track hardware in the classroom,” Liu says. “They are an excellent organizational tool for staff to track and support technical needs. As computers and tablets are brought into different classrooms, asset tagging ensures that inventory is maintained.”

Asset tagging and management tools help schools maintain their IT investments responsibly. Districts are putting a lot of money into providing devices for staff and students and keeping classroom technology up to date. To get the most out of their investments and continue to provide flexible tech options in the future, they need strong asset management practices.

DIVE DEEPER: Learn more about implementing an asset tagging strategy.

“Proper asset management — having the ability to see and manage all devices — is a critical part of device portability,” George says. “It would be irresponsible for schools and their IT teams to send devices home with students without any idea of where they are. A solution like asset tagging allows IT teams to keep devices within view and up to date, regardless of type or location, ensuring that students are able to connect easily and safely, and that they have the proper access to class materials and assignments.”

Charging Carts and Lockers Support Portability

Charging carts and charging lockers can help teachers and students stay organized. They offer an efficient means to deploy devices and also keep them charged and ready for use.

The use of charging carts “allows easy transition between classrooms,” Liu says. “It increases the accessibility of these tech tools while also ensuring that they’re taken care of.”

Charging carts and charging lockers ensure devices have a place to be stored at the end of the school day. “Students take responsibility by taking care of these tech tools,” Liu says. “If the device isn’t returned to the charging cart or locker, they won’t be able to use the tool the next day.”

Moreover, charging carts help to ensure take-home devices can be used in the classroom.

“Power and connectivity are two of the most straightforward elements of portability, but they’re also a frequent cause of frustration. Older school buildings are not designed for today’s charging needs, and outlets may be limited,” says Carmen Fontana, a technology evangelist and member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. “Fast device-charging stations are one way to overcome these limitations.”

KEEP READING: Solve three of the biggest laptop charging cart challenges.

SDI Productions/Getty Images