Arlington ISD hands out technology to support online learning

Posted in on March 28, 2020

When voters approved the Arlington ISD’s 2014 Bond more than five years ago, no one could have predicted the vital role it would play during the coronavirus pandemic. As the district moves to online learning while schools are closed for COVID-19, it is imperative that students have a device that connects to the internet. Thanks to the 2014 Bond, that is possible.

At-Home Learning Hub

The Arlington ISD has begun providing iPads or Chromebooks to all students who need one so they can logon to the At Home Learning Hub and access their lessons and resources. On the first two days of device pick up, the Arlington ISD prepared to hand out devices to the more than 12,000 students signed up to receive one.

Most of these devices were purchased by the 2014 Bond.

Technology Strategy

Technology enabled the district to establish several new standards, including one related to student access to devices. That standard called for a 2:1 ratio, meaning two students per device. To meet that standard, the bond provided funds to purchase a mobile cart of devices for every two classrooms. Each cart contains 22-30 devices depending on the grade level. For grades pre-K-2, students use iPads, and for grades 3-12, students use Chromebooks. In addition, all elementary libraries received a cart of either 15 iPad Minis or 15 Chromebooks.

In all, the 2014 Bond purchased 14,737 iPads and 38,937 Chromebooks.

No Crystal Ball 

“We couldn’t have predicted that we’d need thousands of devices to send home with students back then,” said Michael Hill, assistant superintendent of administration. “But we have enough devices because of the technology standards we set back in 2014.”

In 2015, Barry Fox was instrumental in implementing new technology standards. At the time he was the Arlington ISD’s director of instructional technology.

The Digital Divide

“We want to make sure there are no barriers to our students learning,” he said in an article posted to the AISD Bond website in 2015 about making devices and technology resources accessible for all students.

At the time, his department, technology integration and innovation, was trying to tear down all technology barriers at school. Now, he’s tearing down the barriers at home too.

Fox, now Arlington ISD executive director of teaching and learning, is leading the effort to implement the At Home Learning Hub, the online platform the district is using to teach students at home.

His work under the 2014 Bond laid the foundation that is making it all possible.

“In days, the team has overhauled our instructional approach to support at-home learning for students, teachers and parents,” Fox said. “Thanks to our community, we have the devices our students need to continue their learning.”

Staff from each school and the technology department deserve a lot of thanks as well for cleaning each device and preparing them for pickup.

The Arlington ISD will continue handing out devices next week until all students who need one have one. 

Learn more about the Arlington ISD response to COVID-19 on the Coronavirus page. 

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