Case Study • September 29, 2021

Charging Towers Support Growing 1:1 Initiatives

Switching from carts to PowerGistics Towers helped this district save a tremendous amount of IT staff time and made their inventory process possible.

“PowerGistics is a great partner. We really, really appreciate the product. It’s given us a lot of benefit: time-wise, structure-wise, inventory-wise. “

– Christopher Lee, Director of Technology, Northwest ISD, TX

Download the Northwest ISD Case Study

Outcome

  • Fixed wall mounted storage and charging in the classroom makes device inventory easy and quick
  • Teachers love the small footprint and colorful design
  • Streamlined device deployment and management saves time
  • Makes access to classroom technology easy, even for young students

About Northwest ISD

  • Fort Worth, TX and surrounding 234 square miles
  • 25,000+ Students
  • 32 campuses – 20 use PowerGistics
  • Uses Dell 3100 Touch Screen Chromebooks
Challenges

  • Devices needed to be easily located and fully charged at a moment’s notice
  • IT Staff needed an easy and fast way to inventory devices at the start and end of each school year
  • Devices needed to stay cool enough over the summer while locked in classrooms

Product Solutions

  • A mix of 800 wall mounted Tower16s and Tower20Plus added over 5 years
  • They continue to add Towers as their district grows, with 4 new elementary schools being built for 2023
  • They’re looking forward to using PowerGistics new USB Towers that include USB-C cables on future orders

Discovering PowerGistics

Managing a district that grows as fast as Northwest ISD is no easy task. With only 14 campuses 10 years ago, the district has more than doubled with 32 campuses in 2021. In 2017, Chris Lee and Telli Ervin were looking for something other than carts as a charging solution, something that could grow with their district. When they saw PowerGistics at TCEA that year, they knew they had found the answer to their growing 1:1 initiative.

“We needed a solution to house those Chromebooks in the classroom. We had always in the past been a cart-based district, and we set out to look for a more permanent solution in the classroom, something we could secure with a lock, and something easy to use for young children. We liked the small footprint, it didn’t take up a lot of room in the classroom. The bright colors really drew us over too. We started with two Towers outside our office to see what everyone else thought – whether it was curriculum & instruction, maintenance, teachers, etc. We had overwhelmingly positive responses – we all felt like it was a good solution for us.“

– Christopher Lee, Director of Technology

 

A Smart Alternative to the Charging Cart

Since those first two PowerGistics Towers in 2017, Northwest ISD now uses nearly 800 Towers across 20 elementary campuses.

“PowerGistics is a different methodology than the cart methodology we had always used before. With carts, this Chromebook gets shoved into whichever cart is convenient, and then that teacher moves the cart to the library, and then someone else takes that cart to a different room, and when you’re asking where is Room 24’s cart, no one knows – it was chaos. With fixed Towers in every classroom, teachers always know where their devices are. They didn’t just make inventory easier for us, they made it possible.”

– Christopher Lee, Director of Tech


The colors are a hit, and no complaints about cable management
Telli Ervin, Campus Support Manager at Northwest ISD, says “One of the biggest things that people like about the Towers is the colors. It adds to their classrooms, the teachers love that. Many of our teachers use the colors functionally too.”

To make daily Chromebook deployment easier and to reduce traffic jams, teachers can ask students in the blue group, red group, etc. to go retrieve and return their devices in smaller groups. This keeps the deployment more organized, saves instructional time, reduces dropped devices, and is easier for social distancing.

In response to cable management, Telli Ervin responds, “These Towers are good. They work for what we want them to work for. They definitely have the ability of proper cable management.”

Chris Lee adds “Once they’re mounted to the wall, the power cords are well managed with the little pinch clip where they sit at each shelf – I have not heard any feedback where folks were upset by the cable management.”

 

Primary Pain Points with Previous Carts

  • Inventory of Chromebooks was near impossible to track
  • Technician time wasted moving devices and re-installing in classroom carts each year
  • Inefficient use of classroom space

PowerGistics Benefits for Northwest ISD

  • Asset management and inventory system possible
  • Devices safely stored and easy to track with open door while locked design
  • Time saved for IT staff and teachers
  • Space saved in every classroom
  • Colorful Towers make deployment easy and bring joy to the teachers and kids
  • Permanent classroom sets of Chromebooks for elementary possible
  • No complaints about cable management with PowerGistics – typically a tangled topic.
Saving IT staff time and keeping Chromebooks cool over Texas summers
“The fixed Towers in each classroom with the locking door let us keep those classroom sets of Chromebooks in the classrooms over the summer. The methodology before PowerGistics Towers was to move that inventory to a central locking location such as the library. It created a ton of work for the technicians to collect all those devices, do inventory, make sure it was all safe and locked, and then having to move all the devices back at the classroom carts at the beginning of the next school year. Now, with PowerGistics fixed on the wall in each classroom, the teachers just unplug the Tower at the end of the school year, and we work with the environmental team to keep the classrooms no more than 80 degrees while school’s out. The technicians come to the classrooms now to check their inventory counts. This alone has saved us a tremendous amount of time.” – Christopher Lee, Technology DirectorPowerGistics Towers have a visually open yet secure locking design, which encourages airflow that helps keep Chromebooks cool. Additionally, Towers are made of aluminum which acts as a natural heat sink, drawing heat away from devices. In contrast, most cart solutions are made of steel which tends to trap heat.

 

How the Pandemic has affected their 1:1 model
“Currently we don’t get that granular with device assignment in elementary, we let teachers be responsible for their classroom set. Curriculum staff and teachers decide how devices are used in the classroom. Eventually we will go to a 1:1 model in all of elementary where the Chromebook will actually be checked out to each student. We may be moving to that model much faster than we thought. Because of the pandemic, we had to move to a model where we had to check out devices from the inventory system – made possible with PowerGistics.“I would imagine, given the lessons we’ve learned through remote learning –the littlest kids , I doubt will ever take home their devices. But perhaps grades 3-5 may have freedom to take home devices, and we’re already there in the 6-12 space – those are checked out to them, essentially their devices. We preach ownership of those devices; we think it creates a better responsibility with the device.” – Christopher Lee, Technology DirectorHaving easily identifiable shelves for students, with an assigned color and number, makes assigning classroom devices for the youngest students possible and realistic.

 

Innovation in the use of PowerGistics Towers
Having wall mounted Towers was a perfect solution—until students quickly needed to transition to learning from home at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Telli Ervin, Campus Support Manger, wasted no time finding an innovative solution that took advantage of the Tower’s Flexible design. “After having to remove all the cables to send home with students last year, we developed a method of zip tying the cables to the side of the Tower so that they could be more easily removed if we have to move to remote learning again quickly.“While PowerGistics Towers weren’t designed for this, the open design of the Towers has flexible options for the zip ties to secure the cables, allowing for the innovative minds at Northwest ISD to repurpose PowerGistics Towers to fit their needs during the pandemic.With the PowerGistics USB Tower option, USB cables are included with the Tower, so that those power bricks can be sent home with students.As Northwest ISD continues to grow, Lee and Ervin are confident PowerGistics Towers will be a vital part of their expansion. With the addition of USB Towers and regular product updates, Northwest ISD is excited to see PowerGistics Towers growing with their district and evolving to fit the needs of their classrooms.Download the Northwest ISD Case Study