Stepping onto the campus of the Anne Carlsen Center in Jamestown is like entering a whole different world. In this world, technology is not taken for granted; every single student at the Center is connected in some way, from their wheelchairs, to iPads, to Smart Boards. “Technology really is critical for the education of these students, because without technology, some of them would have no way of communicating,” according to Information Technology Director Sam Brownell. Sam also explained how technology is an “interface to the world” for these students; “Without it we’re limiting their interaction and communication,” he stated.
There are countless ways the Anne Carlsen Center incorporates technology into education, therapy, and simply communicating with students. “We literally use thousands of different apps with students and residents here,” said IT Specialist Joel Blaha.
One resident in particular is learning how to give commands to “Alexa” (the Amazon Echo) in order to aid in her speech therapy. Mandy also happens to be running for Student Council president, and attends public school here in Jamestown. “Technology allows her to attend public school, and also excel there,” Felicia Sargeant, Associate Development Director, said. Without advanced technology Mandy wouldn’t be able to do those things. Just as technology is important for the education of these students, it is also important in their home and everyday lives. Whether they live off-campus with their family or on campus, students use the Internet and smart devices for streaming video, playing games, and utilizing Alexa.
On the business end of things at the Anne Carlsen Center, Internet service is just as important as it for education. Something new they have implemented in the past year is video conferencing. Staff members are now able to video conference between other Anne Carlsen campuses, as well as with doctors from Mayo and other health care facilities. Residents and students of the Center are also able to Skype with their families that they aren’t able to see every day.
Something else that has been implemented recently is integration with the cloud for things like disaster preparedness. Sam explained, “With everything moving to the cloud, a reliable connection is even more important to us now.”
Because a reliable Internet connection is critical for the facility to function, the staff believes having a local provider is necessary in case any issues arise. “For us, an internet connection is just as important as electricity” Sam said. In fact, “it’s kind of like an IV-feed for the students and the facility,” according to Sam.
It’s hard to put into words the importance of the Internet and technology for the residents, students and staff of the Anne Carlsen Center. With the use of technology, lives are impacted every day in ways that wouldn’t be possible without it. Dakota Central is proud to serve such an amazing facility that uses technology in ways most of us wouldn’t even imagine.