Organizing laptop, iPad, and Chromebook carts in the classroom can be a challenging task, especially in elementary settings. Here’s a list of common issues and difficulties that may arise, along with some potential solutions and my favorite gadgets and tools to simplify device management in your classroom!
What are some common issues with carts in classroom?
- Cables can become tangled and messy.
- Charging cords may be damaged if not properly organized.
- Devices may be challenging for younger students to access.
- Overcrowded carts can make it difficult to retrieve devices.
- Large carts can take up significant space in the classroom.
- Positioning the carts for convenient access might be problematic in smaller rooms.
How to best manage digital devices in the classroom?
- Incorporate Student Helpers: Older elementary students can be taught how to properly manage cables and assist in keeping them organized. Make it a part of classroom responsibility that fosters care and accountability for the technology. Assign students to be “cart manager” as a classroom job.
- Use cable organizers and clips to keep cables neat: There are many products designed specifically for cable management, including Velcro straps, cable clips, and cable sleeves. These can help keep cables neatly bundled and prevent tangling. If cables need to be routed through the cart, consider using adhesive cable clips or other routing tools to create clear paths for each cable.
- Clearly label devices: Assign devices and storage space to specific students to streamline accessibility. By labeling each cable with its corresponding device slot or number, teachers and students can easily identify which cable goes where, reducing confusion and potential disarray.
- Label corresponding charger cord: If possible, label each cord with the same color or number as the device so students know which device plugs in where.
- Space planning: Place the cart in a convenient location without obstructing classroom space & leave a clear path to the cart. if space is really tight, have students visit in pairs to get devices or one at a time.
- Create a charging schedule: Devices may only need to be plugged in at the end of the day not each session or use. Teach students how to properly plug and unplug devices, including how to handle cables.
- Use Retractable Cables if Possible: Some charging cables come in retractable designs, which automatically wind up when not in use. These can be a great way to prevent cables from becoming a tangled mess. This is probably unrealistic for many classrooms but if you have purchasing power, I recommend looking into it!
- Customized Solutions: Depending on the specific design of the cart and devices, teachers may find that custom solutions, such as 3D-printed cable holders. This could be a great 3D printing lesson for older students, too!
- Invest in Carts with Built-in Cable Management: If purchasing new carts, look for designs that include built-in cable management systems. These features can greatly simplify the task of keeping cables neat and orderly.
What are some technology organization accessories teachers swear by?
Unfortunately, there is not one solution that will work for everyone. Devices and charging cords are different so what works for one classroom may not be the best solution for you. However, there are some third party products I have used in various situations that I recommend.
Often it ends up combination of a few different products to completely “solve” any storage and charging issues you are having. Luckily, Amazon has fast shipping and a good return policy!
The following links are all affiliate links so I earn a small commission when you purchase.
For our youngest students colored tape around the cord and a matching colored sport on the device helps a lot in getting them to match the correct cord to their device. However, not all colored tape is equal. I like the grittier masking style tape vs smooth tape. I also love to cover any tape on the cord with clear duct tape for extra durability.
Some carts have a built in clip to keep the cord at the front of the cart for quick access. Most do not, so I would consider some type of clip at the front so kids are not having to dig into the cart to find their device cord!
I look for labels that will last with lots of stickie kiddo hands. Paper labels are a big no-no as they rip and leave a residue. My favorite labels encase the cord or have a plastic layer for protection.
Clever Badges & Log In Cards
Many of us are using Clever these days so having access to the code right on the Chromebook is helpful. I love these adhesive plastic “business card” sleeve to put the badge into. As of this publication date, Clever badges print about 2×2 inches so they will fit well into the sleeve. If you don’t use Clever, you can attach index card sleeves with log in information to the inside of student desks for privacy.
I have more product options on my Amazon Storefront if you want to browse these and more products for your technology cart all in one spot! Also, if you have a product you swear by, please let me know.
By identifying technology storage issues and implementing the appropriate solutions, you can create more efficient and effective technology integration in your classroom.
And remember, even the best organized cart system needs clear modeling and practice especially at the start of the year and after break so be sure to practice and revisit technology usage expectations as needed.