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District’s Pilot Program Distributes Chromebooks, Wi-Fi Hotspots to Students in Need

District’s Pilot Program Distributes Chromebooks, Wi-Fi Hotspots to Students in Need

With the increased reliance on technology in school, the need for internet access at home also increased. Unfortunately, many students do not have this luxury at home, and so getting homework done out-of-school can be a challenge.

Many schools are experimenting with ways to provide students with Internet access at home, with some putting Wi-Fi on busses and some partnering with public housing to extend internet access. 

In Springfield, Mass., the Springfield school board is working to provide students with Wi-Fi hotspots to take home, voting to increase this year the number available from 20 to 550 by the upcoming spring and summer semesters.

According to the Springfield News-Leader, a recent survey of the school district’s students revealed at least 800 do not have internet access at home, with about 220 of them coming from Hillcrest High School.

The pilot program started mid-semester this year and provides students in-need with a Google Chromebook to take home along with a Wi-Fi hotspot to get on the Internet at home.

The hotspots are mostly leased through Kajeet, but the pilot program will also test out 50 hotspots operating under a different network.

"The cost of leasing the mobile hot spots is expected to be $108,480 for a six-month period, starting in January. There are two different types of hot spots, costing either a little more or a little less than $35 a month, and they can provide access for up to eight devices at a time,” the News-Leader said.

The district also plans on eventually providing laptops or tablets to all students in grades 3-12 within the next three years. The distribution will begin first in Hillcrest High School, where all students will receive Chromebooks by Jan. 4.

Chromebooks were chosen as the device-of-choice by the district after experimenting with several other devices, unsurprisingly as Chromebooks are the beginning to monopolize the education market thanks to cost efficiency and user-friendliness.

And "[a]fter the mobile hot spots are distributed to the Hillcrest students, the district plans to provide them to needy middle school students — and low-income families with multiple children — in schools that have received new laptops or tablets this semester,” the article said.

In order to ensure that students in need receive the hotspots, the district is in the process of developing an application process.

Read the full story.

Article by Nicole Gorman, Education World Contributor

12/14/2015

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