Forget about the old days of "reading, riting, and 'rithmetic" lessons on the chalkboard – today's modern education is steeped in technology. From elementary schools to universities, computers, projectors and other electronics have become indispensible tools of learning, giving students the resources to build skills for future jobs, put together multimedia presentations, and supplement traditional book-based education with fun and stimulating audio, video, and interactive software.
While high-tech electronics can greatly enhance the learning experience, the power needs and cables that come along with them often create safety hazards and connectivity obstacles for students, faculty, and school administrators. These problems are generally simple to clear up, though – all that's needed is a little planning, and a few smart wire management products. Here are our top picks for keeping school electronics safe and organized, according to how and where they're used.
Organizing Mobile A/V Carts
- A/V carts are the perfect way to store and transport media equipment from classroom to classroom – until they start to become strangled by cables from TVs, DVD players, and projectors. Keep all of your power cords and audio/video cables neatly within the frame of your media cart with the Cord Caddy™, a simple cable organization system that can be mounted almost anywhere you need it. Originally designed to manage medical monitor wires but now adapted to computer and A/V use as well, the Cord Caddy™ is no stranger to carts. Just mount it onto a side wall or the underside of a shelf, and wind excess cord length around its hooks.
- If the cables on your A/V cart are only minorly out of control, Velcro® One-Wraps® are the cable tamers to have on hand. Just like zip ties, One-Wraps® are perfect for bundling unplugged cords, but they're made out of hook and loop, so they're removable and can be reused thousands of times. Try using them to lash cables to the media cart itself, so that they go in the direction you want them to, and don't drag behind as you wheel the cart down the hall.
Decluttering Computer Lab/Media Center Workstations
- If media center or classroom computers can't be placed near existing data ports, you can route and conceal long distance computer-to-plug cable runs with something as simple as surface raceway, a type of wire channel that's equipped with a latching lid for easy cable insertion, and adhesive backing that sticks to everything from drywall to painted cinder block walls. Just install the raceway to the surface of your choice, run your cables through it, and snap the lid closed.
- The spaces behind and below computer workstations are prime spots for cable clutter to build up, and those tangled computer cords can really make trouble, especially when students' feet continually get caught in them. When cables are long enough to be repeatedly stepped on, they can be inadvertently pulled from the devices they're attached to, so it's important to manage any slack length. The WireMate™ is a cord organizer that lets you wind extra long cables around hooks, and then protects the spooled-up excess with a snap-on cover that stands up to bumps, knee jostles, and even accidental kicks.
- Need to better accommodate the ever-growing percentage of laptop-toting students? Old study carrels can double as laptop stations with the simple addition of Desk Outlets. Available with power outlets or a combination of power and data ports, these compact connectivity systems install right into desks and tabletops, and offer students far more flexibility for working on papers or researching online. To keep things neat and safe, most desktop power/data centers can be retracted or flipped closed when not in use.
Preventing Cable-Related Tripping Hazards
- Whenever cords need to be run across hallways or over the floor in high-traffic classroom areas, Cord Covers are essential for reducing tripping hazards and protecting cables from damage. Light capacity cord covers work very well in conjunction with temporary audio/video setups in classrooms and libraries, while heavy duty cable protectors are a better choice for school-wide special events with a high volume of pedestrians.
- Cord covers may be more than you need for school programs, presentations and lectures that involve temporary, low-traffic stage setups, but cables should still be held against the floor to prevent students, faculty and presenters from tripping. In situations like these, Cable Path™ Tape can be used to strategically route extension cords and microphone cables around stages and platforms, and can be peeled away as soon as the event is over – without leaving sticky residue on the floor or wiring.