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Service Learning Report

Project Overview

Project Description

In Week 10 you gave us a Rough Draft of your Service Learning Project and recieved feedback from your instructor.  Now we are asking you to prepare that Report for Publication through the Scholar Platform.  You will get one more round of feedback - this time from your Peers - and then you will make your final submission.  Refer to the Service Learning Report Assignment in Moodle for the full instructions.

Icon for Mobile computer lab in elementary school

Mobile computer lab in elementary school

St. Joseph Elementary School: Continuing to Improve Students’ Digital Literacy

Executive Summary

At St. Joseph Elementary and Middle School, our school has made a push toward improving digital literacy. We started this effort 2 years ago by preparing our teachers to integrate technology into their classrooms. They have spent time outside of school hours to attend in person or online training sessions and explore online resources. Now that they are prepared to incorporate this technology into their classroom, the demand for time in the computer lab has increased. Unfortunately, the computer lab cannot meet the demands of the 9 grades that need to use it. I propose we add a laptop cart as additional option for teachers in grades 3-8.

Site Summary

In St. Joseph, Illinois, the elementary and middle school share one computer lab. This may met needs previously. But with increasing demand for our students to have digital skills and as more research has shown the benefits of incorporating digital skills in the classroom, we must prepare our students to be successful by accommodating teachers to implement a curriculum that incorporates digital skills. Two years ago, we started by providing training to teachers on how to effectively incorporate digital skills in their core classes. Now, the computer lab not only hosts computer skills classes (classes that only deal with building digital skills), but core subject classes have started to utilize the computer lab as well. The incorporation of technology into every day classes is essential in retention of these skills. With just over 400 students, one computer lab is not able to support the goal we set out to accomplish 2 years ago in improving our students’ digital literacy. In order to continue on the path of our achieving our goal, we need an additional option that will allow teachers to easily incorporate technology within their classrooms.


We decided to improve exposure to digital skills for our students because we want to prepare them for successful futures. Our students are digital natives, but they are behind in digital literacy. Digital skills are increasing in demand, and our students want to be prepared for the future job market. Studies have shown that technology can be integrated in a way that builds on the core subject, and when that is done, they will find these classes more engaging. We’ve taken the steps to prepare our teachers, but now, we need supporting equipment.

At St. Joseph Elementary School, our teachers are heavily invested in improving their students learning environment and improving their lessons to prepare their students. The teachers have gone through training to effectively integrate technology into their core subject lessons. However, with all the time they have invested in training, they are unable to use it. They are frustrated that their time feels like it’s being wasted. They are also concerned that by not practicing the methods they’ve learned they are going to lose their new skills.

The school board initiated the efforts to increase digital literacy. They have already asked the teachers to invest their time as well as the librarian and technology aide who developed the training for teachers. Now, we need to invest our finances in continuing to pursue the goal. The school board is aware of the need but is very budget conscious. Our principal works closely with the student board and shares their concerns. He also wants this investment to one that benefits the most individuals it can, and one that makes the teachers’ lives easier.

The technology team consists of a technology coordinator who is also the principal and a technology aide. The librarian will work closely with this team. Due to the additional responsibilities of the technology coordinator as vice principal, he will oversee the laptop cart but the daily duties will be covered by the technology aide and the librarian.

Our Technology

Recreating another stationary computer lab is not possible given space restraints. The only solution we see that would meet our goals and stay low cost is building a laptop cart. A laptop cart will give teachers more flexibility in their instructional plans compared to a stationary lab. They can bring the technology to their classroom so lessons with computers or internet access are not limited to the computer lab. Teachers will also be able to rent technology more often because they will have computer lab access and laptop cart access. To provide for an entire class, the station should consist of 30 Chromebooks. Our school has 24 classes with 20-25 students per class. Because repairs are common (especially broken screens), it is important for us to have 5 extra devices. The carts that I selected have a key lock. One key will be kept by the librarian and the other will be kept by the technology coordinator (the vice principal). The laptop cart will be stored the A/V closet which is within the library behind the circulation desk (circled in red in the image below). This is the most secure option because the A/V closet is only accessible when the librarian is in or by someone has a key to the library.

The decision to purchase Chromebooks was made because of its cost effectiveness and the ease of integration as we use Google Classroom throughout the school. While iPad are also a popular choice, their repairs are more complex and cannot be done in house. By doing repairs, in house on Chromebooks, we will be nulling the warranty (although there is a potential alternative mentioned in “Moving Forward: Future Repairs). The most common repair we predict is fixing screens. To do this in house on a Chromebook is fairly simple and would cost $35 and 5 minutes of time. A screen replacement out of house on an iPad would cost $250 to $300 because the process is too complex for in house repair. The repairs on Chromebooks are straightforward and would allow us to do them in house. Chromebooks do not usually have any updates like iPads which will also cut down on the time demands.

Our current lab consists of 30 computers with Microsoft office and internet capabilities. The laptop cart will not be ideal for running programs but its main use will be accessing the internet to use online resources and using applications such as the Google Classroom app. These applications are not just digital skills apps (like Comic Life or Little Solver), we will also install Class Dojo, which is a classroom management application. This application is not used school wide but has been increasing in popularity since being introduced. Through the Class Dojo application, students can log in to their account and monitor their own behavioral progress throughout the day and over the week. The computer cart is providing an additional option rather than substitution to the current computer lab, so having limitation on non-internet activities works for this project.

These laptops will cause strain on the school Wi-Fi and could slow down the overall internet speed. SEDTA (State Educational Technology Directors Association) recommends download speeds for online learning to be at least 250 kbps for a single user. By adding 30 devices (24 classes of between 20 and 25 students with backups for ones that are in repair), we will increase router demands to 7,500 kbps or 7.5 mbsp. The current computer lab is not wireless, and teachers have computers with wired computer access in their classrooms. Wireless use is available but is mainly used by teachers or school staff on personal laptops and was originally added to accommodate student teachers. Due to our proximity to two major universities (University of Illinois at Urbana- Champaign and Illinois State University), we have a few student teachers every year who bring their own devices. Our current router should be able to handle the addition of 30 Chromebooks. For scheduling laptop cart use, we library will use the same online scheduling model that is used for the computer lab.

We have chosen to invest in the white glove service offered by Google. This is one time service that prepares the device for use. The service includes: 1) Enrollment of device on our domain 2) Enterprise enrollment and validation 3) Applying network configuration settings 4) wireless configuration 5) management console training- which will be great support for our technology staff. The white glove service costs $10 per Chromebook. This investment will save a lot of time and will not add to staff’s responsibilities more than necessary. Although it is an additional upfront cost, we will save money by not having the librarian and technology aide setting up the 4 major services the white glove service provides plus they will have access to some training). We still need to spend time in setting up the laptop cart and turning on all computers for the first time, which should take roughly two hours of work total. During this time, we will also install the applications we previously mentioned on all computers. To download additional applications, teachers will need to put in a request 24 hours in advance so there is time for review/ approval and time to download the application on all 30 computers. We will have both the school librarian and the technology coordinator set up taking an hour between the two of them.

Having our new computer lab mobile will make it much easier for teachers to integrate technology into the classroom and within their core lessons. It will also be setup quickly with the white glove service, so their frustration will be resolved as quickly as possible. The addition of a laptop cart will also benefit all grade levels because although only grades 3-8 will have access, the computer lab will have more availability overall because there is an additional option. Using this investment to benefit the entire school was a priority for the principal. The laptop cart is a much less expensive option than building a new computer lab, but will still meet students’ needs as the school board wants. Students will have more opportunities to interact with technology and will benefit from its integration into the classroom because they will have better retention and more opportunities for application of their digital skills.

Moving Forward: Future Repairs

If we were to increase the number of laptop carts, we may need to invest in a router with more bandwidth capabilities. The technology coordinator will perform repairs, but the librarian will submit the work request and act as a liaison between the technology team and teachers. As I said, broken screens is the most common repair we predict. There is a video on how to repair screens and a link to order the screen replacement under technical resources. The manufacturer of Chromebooks has the option of certifying staff for in-house repairs, so they are not breaking warranty. This would be an additional time investment for our technology coordinator but would also allow us to do our own repairs while keeping warranty. The decision will be presented to the principal and technology coordinator (vice principal) for consideration. Screen replacements are available for under 35 dollars, and other schools report the replacement takes about 5 minutes. Chromebooks do not require major software update, which will cut down maintenance time for staff. Should updates arise, this will be handled by the technology coordinator or assigned to the technology aide by the technology coordinator. The Chromebooks should be considered for complete replacement in 4 years, but are anticipated to last 6 years. The cart should be considered for replacement with Chromebook pending charging-compatibility.

Moving Forward: Conclusion

Moving forward, this mobile computer lab will help us continue to prepare our students for their futures by supporting a curriculum that integrates digital literacy. These digital skills are becoming essential for our students to be successful in their futures. There has been a transition from a valuing recall of information to valuing the ability to effectively retrieve information, then analyze, synthesize, and communicate that information. By providing the option for teachers to bring technology into the classroom, we will increase opportunities for students to practice their digital skills. This is an investment that will benefit teachers of all grade levels and all subject areas within our school. 


The budget includes vendors and prices. 

Technical resources

Application suggestions:

40 Best Apps Elementary Learning Apps:
Elementary School Writing Apps and Websites:
7 Apps for Teaching Children Coding Skills:
AASL Best Websites for Teaching and Learning:
Classroom Dojo:


Managing Chromebooks in Schools:
How to Setup Your New Chromebook the Right Way:
Video on repairing screen:
Where to purchase screen replacement:  

  • Shelby Garrett