Mobile labs roll out at Harlan Independent

Published 11:12 am Friday, February 2, 2018

Mobile computing across the Harlan Independent School District took a giant leap forward recently as the district rolled out 140 new laptops and mobile carts. Showing off the new hardware at a recent school board meeting, Superintendent Charles Morton briefed board members and those in the audience on how the district was using the new technology.

With all of the district’s digital learning initiatives requiring readily available internet connected devices, the addition of so many personal laptops will help increase access throughout the buildings. Morton said, “We really see this as a way to help increase the amount of time students can be actively engaged in the variety of digital learning platforms that we utilize. Everything from MAP testing for diagnostic assessments that help us get a good understanding of where we need to tailor instruction, to the daily use of Study Island for skill development and even our dual credit college courses require computing power. We have the need for access across every area of our instructional landscape.”

The new hardware was made possible through the use of federal Title I funds. Supervisor of Instruction Jennifer Parsons explained that the initiative is something the district hopes to build on over the next couple of years. When asked about a possible one-to-one environment (one computer for every child) in the future, Parsons commented, “That is not out of reach for our district. Support and implementation strategies are something that have to be thought out thoroughly and will take time, but the interest is there to explore. Right now, I am excited for the student engagement element that the laptops bring to the classroom. When students are excited to use the equipment and you have plenty to go around it really makes a difference in the classroom.”

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The Harlan Independent School Education Foundation donated $5,000 for the purchase of laptops at the start of the 2017-2018 academic school year. It was noted that the success of that implementation, helped lay the groundwork for the additional workstations to be rolled out.

District Technology Coordinator Frank Shope said it has been a real challenge working to get the so many devices into the hands of the schools as quickly as possible, “There are several processes that must be worked out before the devices can be functional in our network environment, working through large quantities of workstations can take some time. We completed a district-wide WiFi upgrade recently that was designed to accommodate an increase in the number of wireless devices. We have the infrastructure in place to accommodate the new and future equipment.”

Harlan Elementary School, which is scheduled for a major renovation starting in February and lasting through July, was extremely happy to get the new devices. The phasing plan for the renovation resulted in the computer lab being inaccessible during the renovation period. With access to the mobile labs, students and staff will not experience any time when computer access is not available.

Vickie Anderson, elementary school principal, stated, “The timing of the mobile labs was critical for my students. We depend heavily on our MAP testing to help drive our instruction for students and losing our fixed computer lab was big concern for me and my staff. These devices have been great!”