Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Innovative Ideas for Reducing Laptop Loss / Theft

At the Tech & Learning Leadership Summit that took place December 2019, leaders in technology and education shared innovative ideas used to reduce device loss and theft across a variety of populations. This ranged from ensuring educators knew how to integrate tech into learning to speaking to important community members to get them on board. Here's what they discussed. 

Ideas for providing device ownership

Across the board, leaders agreed that providing device ownership helps reduce loss and theft. Here are some ways this takes place in districts across the U.S.


Etch student names on the bottom of devices.


Allowing students to personalize their devices both with background wallpaper and on the outside of the computer. 
Jenith Mishne, Director of Education Technology in Newport-Mesa Unified School District (USD) takes personalizatoin to a whole new level. She provides time, accessories, and stickers for students to use to personalize their device. However, she offers this word of caution: Make it clear only the backside of devices can be bedazzled.

1:1 take home programs 

1:1 take home programs were found to reduce damage of devices. 1:1 provides a better sense of ownership which means better care. 

Home Use

The consensus was that it’s a myth that kids aren’t responsible enough to take devices home. If schools and districts put the right systems and structures in place, students can be responsible enough to use devices at home and bring them back to school.

Summer Use

The end of the school year is often a drag for school technology staff who have to scramble to collect and store all student devices. This isn’t a problem in Newport-Mesa USD. Mishne simply doesn’t collect devices at the end of the school year. Students can keep the devices. This also helps address summer slide issues as the students can have access to technology even when school is out. If a device needs a repair, no problem. Students can make an appointment to bring their devices in. Students at the school keep the same laptop from year to year. This increases the feeling of ownership which reduces chances of loss.

Integration into learning

Leaders found there was a reduction in device damage if educators knew how to meaningfully integrate technology into learning. Using it not just as a substitution for paper or worksheets, but as a tool to transform learning.  When teachers do that, students are more responsible for devices. The issue however, is that districts must properly support teachers with integrating technology. It also must be an expectation included in evaluation of the teachers. 

Out-of-the-box solutions

Adam Phyall, Director of Technology and Media Services at the Newton County School System Covington, Georgia implements several effective out-of-the-box solutions to reduce theft.
  • Community relations: He speaks to key players in the community to let them know what is happening in the schools academically and how technology is supporting it. He shares with them how to identify a school device and discusses the significance these devices have in ensuring students are prepared for success. These key players include pawn shop owners as well as street organizational units (aka gangs) which community churches help to arrange. 
  • Laptop carts: When Phyall discovered some kids had devices stolen out of bags from the YMCA, the district donated extra laptop carts to them. 

Your turn

How do you handle device loss and theft where you work? Have you tried or considered any of these ideas? How do you think it would go in your school or district?

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