Forget about the old days of "reading, riting, and 'rithmetic" lessons on the chalkboard — education today is steeped in technology. From elementary schools to universities, computers, projectors, and other electronics have become indispensable tools of learning. These electronics give 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 and cable 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. Cable management items easily keep all your power cords and audio/video cables neatly within the frame of your media cart, using a simple cable organization system that can be mounted almost anywhere you need it. One of the items is MagDaddy™, which magnetically sticks to any metal surface. Just mount it to the cart and place cables into the open clips. There are self-adhesive cord organizers as well that can route and hold A/V cables in place, including 3M® Innovation Command™ Adhesive Hooks and Hangers or BlueLounge® CableDrop™ Cord Clips. Animal clips are all-purpose, self-adhesive cable holders that add personality to a school environment too.
- • If the cables on your A/V cart are only minorly out of control, Velcro® One-Wrap® cable wraps are the cable tamers to have on hand. Just like zip ties, One-Wrap® cable wraps are perfect for bundling unplugged cords, but they incorporate hook and loop material that makes them removable and reusable. They can be used to lash cables to the media cart itself, so they are routed in a specific direction and do not drag along, as a cart is being wheeled down the hallway.
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. This wire channel is equipped with a latching lid for easy cable insertion. It is also adhesive backed to stick 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. Those tangled computer cords can really make trouble, especially when students' feet continually get caught in them. It is important to manage cable slack length because when cables are long enough to be repeatedly stepped on, they can be inadvertently pulled from the devices they're attached to. The WireMate™ is a cord organizer that lets you wind extra-long cables around hooks. The spooled-up excess is protected 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. They 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 that have 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. They can be peeled away as soon as the event is over, without leaving sticky residue on the floor or wiring.