Duval County Public Schools, the 20th largest school district in the United States, implemented a 1:1 roll-out to Fletcher Middle School. They were looking to bridge some key gaps in their roll-out. How were students going to keep the student-managed devices charged? How are student devices’ charged while they are in gym class?
Duval County Public Schools, located in Jacksonville, Florida is the 20th largest school district in the United States. With over 130,000 students spread across 196 schools, managing the 68,000 district-owned laptops is challenging. In their drive towards mobile-driven learning, Duval’s County’s Fletcher Middle school implemented a 1:1 roll-out.
Duval Schools were looking to bridge some key gaps in their roll-out. How were students going to keep the student-managed devices charged? How are student devices charged while they are in gym class?
In 2008, the Duval County Public Schools District didn’t have the Wi-Fi bandwidth required to conduct state testing via laptops. Now, today, it’s one of the most technologically advanced school districts in the nation with students across 196 schools learning in mobile, device-driven environments. What seemed like an overnight transition actually took years of planning and support from all points in the district.
“Commitment and support from the top were key, but of course lots of grant writing and smart budget choices played a big role too,” said Jim Culbert, the district’s executive director of information technology.
First, the district tackled wireless access, bringing 10G bandwidth to all of its campuses in less than two years. But it still struggled with providing one device to each student, a practice known as 1:1 education. In its drive to 1:1 education, the district realized its buildings’ current electrical infrastructure simply couldn’t handle powering all of the devices. There was also the question of how to securely store the laptops.
Students used to learn from textbooks. Now laptops and cloud-based apps facilitate teaching and testing, enabling greater access to learning resources and keeping teachers on top of student progress. But with that shift comes a new challenge: How do you manage and securely store all of those devices? The Jacksonville Beach, Florida school, was familiar with the traditional charging cart.
“We started with storage carts, which addressed the charging and security needs,” Culbert said. “But as we moved closer to 1:1 in our schools, we needed more advanced capabilities.”
The district was looking for a solution, that not only charged the devices, but had added capabilities to easily manage and upgrade the devices. Duval’s approach to technology is focused on making it as barrier-free and simple as possible for the teachers, so their time can be spent teaching.
Through a series of consultations and research, Chicago-based Bretford developed a solution.
Duval’s approach to technology has always been make it as simple for the teacher’s as you possibly can. You want to take that barrier of the technology issues away from the teacher’s. Our new smart lockers allow students to take an active involvement in the ownership of their devices. With the students keeping their devices all year, they have a greater sense of responsibility to ensure their devices are taken care of.
TechGuard Connect is Bretford’s next generation of charging lockers – a line that offers advanced features for organizations with more complex device management challenges. Through Bretford Connect, a cloud-based web portal, IT administrators can access real-time locker stats, remotely unlock bays, and provide a full audit trail through data logging and device check-in and check out. The portal even makes it possible to simultaneously update an entire fleet of lockers with the latest features.
Today, the new RFID lockers are steadily replacing traditional lockers in the halls of Duval County Public Schools, enabling 1:1 learning throughout the district. Installation is done during off-peak hours and lockers are easily connected through a standard 120-volt outlet. To keep hallway traffic flowing, the lockers are bunched in locations where students can easily access them during peak times like start of day, end of day, and before/after physical education.
Early trials of the smart lockers showed how liberating the simplified storage solution can be for both teachers and students. While the routine of caring for the device is a practical lesson in responsibility for students, teachers now use the time previously spent managing the laptops on lesson planning or other work.
“The remote management and upgrade capabilities have made a major difference for our IT team,” Culbert said. “For example, a software upgrade used to take a significant amount of time because we had to go through each laptop separately. Now we just log on to our portal and with a few clicks all of the laptops in our lockers update. That means our IT team can focus on bigger tasks; the portal handles the little things for us.”
And as the number of laptops and lockers in the district increases, so do student grades and test scores. But there’s another unexpected benefit the district is seeing as well.
“Because students only need to stop at the smart lockers twice each day, we’ve been able to shorten our bell schedules and give students more time in the classroom,” Culbert said. “And that has a positive impact on both learning and funding.”
Built on 70 years of design and manufacturing expertise, our roots are grounded in solutions that solve everyday problems. In education. In healthcare. In businesses. Our innovative legacy began in 1948, and ever since then, Bretford has been designing and building solutions that make our working and learning environments more mobile and flexible.
With strong footings in the education industry, Bretford delivers innovative, solutions to wide variety of industries, from healthcare to public safety, hospitality, and beyond.
Our solutions help people solve the growing need to manage, charge, and store mobile devices, and empower educators, businesses, and people to keep their devices powered and ready to conquer the world.