Home » How Contactless Smart Lockers Keep Students Learning in the Pandemic

How Contactless Smart Lockers Keep Students Learning in the Pandemic

By Josh Middlebrooks, president, Luxer One

The pandemic has changed the way people think about the education system as more classrooms transition to a hybrid learning environment. Teachers and administrators had to find viable solutions to the issues the pandemic caused. They were forced to find new online platforms that would help them teach various topics while reducing the spread of the deadly virus.

Whether it was enforcing mask requirements for all students or encouraging them to distance themselves socially, educators were responsible for more than just their average job responsibilities. One solution being used to help students and teachers alike is the smart locker. We’ve worked with countless school districts and colleges to implement integrated locker systems into their learning environments successfully. As a result, we’ve experienced a surge in purchases from schools and universities, and the trend will likely continue.

That aside, there’s more to the rise in the popularity of such solutions.

The rise in smart locker use

Smart lockers act as a feasible solution for many schools rather than manually handing out a couple hundred, or even thousand, computers to students. As a result, schools across the country are implementing contactless smart lockers into their operations to seamlessly deliver laptops, educational resources, and learning materials to their students.

Even before the pandemic, more educational institutions were using smart lockers for a variety of purposes. For example, universities were using them to deliver mail and a high number of packages to their students more efficiently while reducing the risk of exposure.

What is a smart locker, and how do they work?

Smart lockers offer a multipurpose unit of lockers that contain a touchscreen, battery backup for constant power supply, and 15 compartments that vary in size. In addition, indoor- and outdoor-safe lockers are available, so schools can place them wherever they feel is best.

To use these smart lockers, students first need to request the materials they need from the university or school or its library system. Then, educators, administrators, and librarians find the resources they need and place them in one of the locker units for the student. Students are then sent a notification letting them know their order is ready and are provided with a one-time-use code. Once the code is entered in the locker, students can pick up their materials effortlessly and be on their way.

Smart lockers are valuable tools that educators can use to deliver their materials without fearing virus exposure. Also, students have the freedom to pick up their laptops or learning materials at any time they wish, offering a new level of flexibility. The system is highly user-friendly and durable, so they protect whatever is being stored inside them.

Modernizing bookstores and college campuses

With the implementation of these smart lockers, more conversations surrounding the idea of campus modernization are beginning to spark. Using lockers for more than just mail and packages can benefit universities, colleges, high schools, and, essentially, any educational institution.

College bookstores are modernizing as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Because operations at many colleges and universities were halted, students faced challenges receiving their mail and care packages. To solve this problem, institutions felt that smart lockers could be transformative in delivering goods to their students.

College bookstores play a significant role in campus life for students at colleges and universities. Whether purchasing textbooks for a class they’re enrolled in or getting the latest school merchandise, students rely on their bookstore for many services.

Effects of COVID-19 on campuses

It’s no surprise that COVID-19 impacted college campuses across the world. Students were forced to quarantine in their dorms, for example. Many students also had to transition to an online learning model. Professors delivered lectures over Zoom or Google Meet. More students in the future may access their online classes on their mobile devices — back in 2017, 67% of students were using mobile devices for online learning.

Combined with smart lockers, the learning experience will certainly feel and look different from traditional learning methods. In addition, college students began redirecting their shopping online, which led to an increase in parcels reaching campus. As a result, mailrooms quickly became a high-risk area for exposure, as many students would gather to receive their packages.

Luckily, smart lockers allowed for a seamless package pickup process for students while reducing the risk of exposure. In addition, the lockers become a part of a larger sense of community and contribute to what may be called the “campus hub” in the future.

Adapting to a new reality

Reports show that there’s been an increase in online book purchases because of the pandemic, and bookstores are facing a myriad of disruptions. In addition, because more students are participating in online classes, there’s no need to visit a physical store. It’s expected that the increase in online purchases is a trend likely to outlast the pandemic, and prices may rise as a result.

Take Rochester school district in New York, for example. It had to distribute thousands of laptop computers to students and handing them out manually was simply not an option. The district educates more than 23,000 students in total, so finding a solution felt like an impossible challenge. We worked with the district, and after 17 days, smart lockers were introduced and implemented, allowing students to enter their personal codes to open up lockers and retrieve the necessary items during a period of great stress, upheaval, and unprecedented confusion about the future of education (this during the fall of 2020).

Overall, the introduction of smart lockers has prompted more university administrators to research and consider implementing them. The tracking capabilities of the lockers only add to their value, and they’re set to become more prevalent in the education system moving forward.

Moving forward with smart lockers

As educational institutions continue to adapt to the new challenges presented by the pandemic, smart lockers are an integral part of their modernization efforts. In addition, more universities and colleges can create campus hubs and share more than just learning materials.

It’ll be interesting to see how smart lockers are used even more prolifically in the future to help students learn in an ever-changing environment.