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MK Electric And Creating A Buzz In Education

Electronic devices are becoming increasingly important tools for staff and students alike, but keeping them topped up with juice is never easy. Emma Segelov, head of marketing at MK Electric, discusses why USB sockets can help schools and universities charge ahead with their learning.

Less than a decade ago, pen and paper was the go-to resource for taking notes in classes and university lectures. Fast forward to today’s digitally connected society and mobile devices are commonplace across the board, for both academic and recreational purposes. A recent study by St Andrews University found that almost 89 per cent of students used electronic devices for more than 50 per cent of their study time; while 14 per cent used them for the entirety of it.1

Not only has the frequency of use changed, but also the number of different devices. Laptops are a given, but research also shows that 95 per cent of students own a smartphone, 57 per cent own a tablet and 29 per cent own an e-book reader.2 In fact, The Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) trend has swept across countless institutions, including University College London, where a dedicated IT service desk will connect any device to the university's wireless network, Eduroam.3

The implications for an educational establishment’s systems are plenty, and schools and universities alike are having to respond to this shift as quickly and efficiently as possible, either by upgrading the bandwidth on their Wi-Fi, or ensuring students have somewhere to go to top up their charge.

When it comes to the latter, USB charging outlets offer the benefit of negating the use of adapters to charge devices in a conventional switch socket outlet, and installing them can help to prevent cash-strapped students using unofficial chargers, which may present a number of safety issues.

Indeed, charity Electrical Safety First recently commissioned tests looking at the safety of chargers bought from online trading and auction sites. It found that half had been wired using ‘sub-standard components’ and none met the safety requirements of the Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations Act 1994.5 As an added benefit, USB charging also eliminates the need for PAT testing.

They are also convenient for international students who need power on the go, but do not want to be restricted to carrying their bulky mains power chargers and international travel adaptors around. With an estimated 436,585 foreign students now at UK universities4, this is a large and growing section of the student-population who would benefit from a universal approach to charging.

In 2013, MK Electric was one of the first UK manufacturers to introduce a range of award winning USB charging modules, and now this technology is being integrated into the market leading twin socket. USB charging capability is now available within six MK Electric wiring device ranges – Logic Plus, Metalclad Plus, Albany Plus, Edge, Aspect and Elements, offering the widest choice and flexibility to suit any application.

Additionally, MK Electric’s offering features innovative dynamic device recognition (DDR), which is specifically designed to detect charging configurations from a range of manufacturers and react accordingly for optimal and efficient charging.

Charging devices via a USB socket can come with potential problems because varying devices draw charge in different ways. This technology ensures that whatever device you use, it recognises the socket as it would its own charger and draws current in the most efficient way.

DDR helps the MK Electric switch sockets to become a true game-changer in USB charging, with the potential to provide a powerful competitive advantage for businesses open to embracing it.

Importantly, like all MK Electric’s switch socket outlets, the USB integrated socket features a three-pin child resistant shutter system as a safety measure designed to prevent access to the electricity supply unless all three pins of a standard British plug are in position.

The changing needs of students, from primary school through to degree level, presents many challenges to schools and universities, particularly in how they choose their power outlets. However, manufacturers such as MK Electric have responded to these modern requirements with a number of innovative solutions that are flexible and easy to install, enabling such buildings to offer their students simple, convenient and effective charging solutions.

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