As schools and districts consider transitioning to a digital classroom and deploying mobile devices to students and staff, they must also decide whether to deploy cases to protect these devices and if the additional expense is beneficial in the long run.

In a recent survey, tech directors across the United States helped us to determine that the decision to protect take-home devices with high-quality cases reduced damage rates by 40%. Over the past two decades, Brenthaven has worked alongside technology directors and their teams to learn what program directors look for when making these decisions and help to provide guidance as they embark on technology initiatives.

Our goal is to help tech departments create a clear path to success and avoid costly device breakage to protect their investments. We’ve compiled this simple guide to share with you our learnings and help in your future technology deployments.

#1 – Plan Ahead

Let’s start with lead time. Beyond time requirements to purchase and train staff on new devices, it’s also important to consider the lead time required for the cases you purchase and build that into your timeline to avoid last-minute charges like air freight fees.

For smaller orders, a case provider may have enough existing inventory in the warehouse to fulfill your order immediately. However, if your order is large (over 1,000 units), the vendor will likely need to order the cases and ship it directly to your school. Case type also influences lead time. For example, custom-molded cases, like a fitted iPad case, require about 75 days of lead time from the day you send the purchase order. For non-molded products such as backpacks and sleeves, you should budget around 100 days of lead time.

#2 – Vendor Selection

When selecting a case partner, focus on those who have extensive experience in the K-12 market with a proven track record of EDU success and who will be around for years to come. You will likely need to replenish some percentage of your cases on an annual basis due to product loss, enrollment changes, or an expansion of your technology program.

Make sure to thoroughly research case providers, ask for referrals from your peers, and exercise due diligence when selecting a provider. Whether you choose Brenthaven or another supplier for your cases, make sure the company you choose has longevity and experience specifically in the education market.

#3 – Kids Are Tough on Devices

As we all know, kids tend to drop, scratch, throw, and stand on expensive devices in the classroom. When that drop occurs, you want to be sure the device is protected. Cases come with varying degrees of drop protection so when you’re selecting a case, you’ll want to look for a level of drop protection that makes sense for your classroom and school environment. Consider the use case:

• Will the students carry the device in a larger bag?
• Will devices stay in class or travel home?
• Will they be shared between classrooms?
• In what grade levels will devices be used?
• In what day-to-day scenarios is device damage likely to occur?
• Does the device need to withstand a two-foot or a four-foot drop?

Whatever your use case, you want to make sure that the case will help the device inside stand up against the toughest student handling.

#4 – Ease of Installation

Case installation can be particularly time-consuming especially when deploying custom-molded cases that are designed to provide a snug fit. Be sure to incorporate this time into your deployment timeline.

Since some case companies use the same packaging for large deployments as they do in retail stores, the product may come in cumbersome packaging that may take a long time to remove and dispose of. That, coupled with potentially difficult installation and deployment size can become quite the time suck. Imagine completing this process 1,000 times or more for a large deployment! Enough said!

#5 – Insurance Does Not Replace the Need for a Case

It’s a commonly held belief that insurance alone is adequate protection for devices. This is not the case! Every year, we hear from tech directors who pursued this strategy and then spent countless hours throughout the year dealing with the return process and student downtime while devices are being repaired.

Buying insurance does not replace the need for a good case. Brenthaven partners with top insurance providers in the K-12 space to ensure a full-solution approach to device coverage. So, if you’re considering this route, let us know and we can explore these options.

#6 – Charging Strategies

Will your students be responsible for keeping their devices charged? Will you use charging carts or baskets to organize and charge devices overnight? How you handle device charging affects the type of protective case you’ll want to purchase.

If you plan on using charging carts, the case you select needs to be slim enough to fit and have the correct charging port access be compatible with your carts. Compatibility is key!

#7 – Barcode Scanning & Asset Management

When deploying hundreds to thousands of devices, it’s important to make sure you have a way of tracking and managing all those devices.

Many schools use a barcode system for asset tagging. If you are deploying molded cases and this is the system your school uses, select a case that has a transparent window to display this bar code. The last thing you want to have to do at the end of the school year is remove all the cases in order to catalog your devices. This transparent window is also a great place for personalizing with a student name, stickers, or photos! And, if you’re interested in case customization, make sure to look for device providers who offer debossing, screen printing, or embroidery for your cases, bags, and sleeves.

#8 – Form a Selection Committee that Includes Students

Sampling should be a major part of your evaluation process. It’s important to get feedback from colleagues and decision-makers after testing the case options. Since your students are the ones who will be putting these cases to the test, we recommend getting them involved in the process too.

While they won’t see the important things (like four feet of drop protection), they will tell you what’s cool or not. Ideally, you want to find something that will protect your assets and that your students will want to use.

Conclusion

Once you decide to add case protection to your device deployment, selecting the right case is essential to the success of the program. Hopefully, these tips will be helpful as you consider the selection of the perfect case for your unique deployment.

Obviously, we think that our cases fit all of these criteria and hope you’ll consider Brenthaven when choosing your case provider. This year, we are celebrating 40 years in business, Brenthaven has been a trusted partner with K-12 Tech Directors since 2001. Our customer service reps are available to help consult at any time and will be even more helpful that this guide! We look forward to working with you on your upcoming project.