Incident IQ

K-12 Workflow Management Blog

Device Distribution: Tips for a Successful Start to the School Year

Cartoon image of woman holding life sized pencil and using life sized checklist

IT teams have a tremendous responsibility to gather, prepare, store, and distribute devices. We previously discussed the strategic way to store devices for extended periods—but how do IT teams effectively distribute devices?

While proper storage is very important, distributing the devices is just as vital, as it involves a large amount of organization, preparation, and time. Device distribution has many variables, including the level of involvement for teachers, students, and parents/guardians.

Device distribution can be a stressful process, but with proper preparation and planning, it can be done efficiently and accurately. Read on to see our recommendations for distribution best practices.

How to Manage Distribution of Student Devices

Managing the distribution of student devices first starts when the school year is coming to an end and devices are prepared for extended storage. Creating a comprehensive device distribution plan is crucial, as this plan will serve as the blueprint for teachers, students, and staff alike.

The following is a list of items that must be planned, organized, and communicated for optimal device distribution:

  • Preparing devices
  • Defining distribution dates, times, and roles
  • Planning the distribution event
  • Creating device agreements and rules
  • Developing tech support processes
  • Providing distribution training
  • Training distribution volunteers

Device Distribution Checklist

Having a smooth distribution process is enormously reliant on pre-distribution planning, but don’t worry—we’ve created a strategy to help tackle your device deployment before the first day of school rolls around.

Here are 10 questions to ask for a successful device distribution:

Email-055-DownloadableGraphic

 
After the initial decisions are made, you’ll be able to see which questions need more specific answers.

For example, event planning for the distribution day will involve more than a simple date. It will need a complete breakdown of schedules, check-out forms, and event communications–not to mention readying the devices themselves.

In the next few sections, we’ll break down device distribution steps further.

Prepare Devices for Distribution

Each device should be tagged with a unique asset tag for inventory and assignment purposes. Ideally, asset tags are applied shortly after receiving the device post-purchase. This can be done in-house, or through third-party device deployment specialists.

Once devices have been tagged, your IT team will want to make sure devices are properly charged for distribution. If your district’s Chromebooks have been in long storage for the summer, you’ll want to prepare them for distribution by charging devices before distribution. We suggest charging Chromebooks enough to let students and staff log in after assigning the device, which can help resolve technical issues before the first day of school.

For more ideas about how to prepare devices for deployment, check out this helpful thread from the K-12 sysadmin subreddit.

Select Specific Pick-Up Dates, Timeframe, and Locations

Let’s examine our options for the best time to distribute devices.

Device distribution doesn’t just cover student devices—it also includes deploying the devices for teachers and staff. To make distribution easier, we recommend holding two separate distribution periods—one for the teachers, and one for students.

For teacher devices, this may include their personal school laptop, as well as laptop charging carts for classroom use. We recommend holding two half days for teacher device distribution before school starts, ideally during teacher planning sessions. This is due to the fact that the school will already have all of the teachers in the building, but students won’t be back in class yet.

For student devices, best practices recommend that distribution day is held at the school’s open house, due to the fact that the students—along with their parents—will be there. Open house is an optimal place to hold distribution day, as it will give the opportunity for parents and students to sign the required paperwork, if they did not complete it beforehand. Another benefit to holding device distribution during open houses is that it provides an opportunity for the students and parents to ask questions about their assigned devices.

Another note to add about distribution day is planning on the best place to distribute. Optimally, the best place to hold distribution would be near open house sign-in. This is so that everyone that comes to the open house has the opportunity to see where the device distribution is, and can easily go ahead and check-out the device.

Identify Who Will Staff Distribution Tables

Another aspect about device distribution day concerns human resources. If your IT team is large enough that no extra support is needed, that’s great. However, if your IT team is not large enough, extra help will need to be recruited before distribution day.

Incident IQ’s Rollout Scout makes it easy for teachers and non-IT staff to help deploy student devices with two quick scans of a student ID and an asset tag. With InciWhat’s more, IT teams don’t have to worry about teachers doing more in the system than deploying devices—Rollout Scout enables instant device assignment without giving away full agent permission, so district data remains secure during distribution.

Identify Who is Authorized to Pick Up Devices

Legally, students under the age of 18 must have a parent/guardian sign forms for a student to check out a device at pick-up. This underlines why it’s best to hold device distribution at the open house, since both the student and parent will likely be present.

However, best practices suggest sending all device policies and forms electronically before distribution day. That way, students and parents who cannot physically attend open house will still have a way to receive student devices in the first week of school, provided that they completed device paperwork beforehand.

Create and Finalize Device Agreements

Who receives technology agreement forms to sign and return will vary, depending on the individual school district.

Multiple different forms should be created for all scenarios, from agreement forms for teachers, remote learners, IEP students, and so on. This will ensure that liability to the school is properly protected in all situations.

Creating these forms should be completed as soon as the end-of-year extended storage process is complete. Individual School Board decisions over device access will influence device distribution, and therefore influence the immediate creation of agreement forms. For example, if the School Board decides to have classroom-dedicated devices and rules against mobile student devices, IT teams will not need to plan for a device distribution day among students.

Develop the Device Distribution Communication Flow

While it may seem like common sense to know what information to communicate for device distribution, we created a useful checklist to use when you draft your message.

Information to include:

  • Event time, date, and location
  • Who can pick up the devices
  • Device agreements or other paperwork required for pickup
    • Either make the form returnable in advance or manually in person
  • FAQs

There’s More To Asset Management than Distribution

Effectively coordinating device distribution is a tall order to fill for IT teams, but proper strategies and asset management software can greatly assist in this matter. Incident IQ strives to help K-12 IT teams by providing asset management software that can track, audit, and manage devices and relevant acceptable use policies throughout the school year.

If you’re looking for better tools to streamline K-12 asset management, reach out to us to see what Incident IQ can do for your district.