3 must-haves for a mobile learning environment
Gary Lambert: Wi-Fi at home and on the bus
The Central School District of Beekmantown (NY), a rural district of 2,070 students, had a mission to be the most progressive educational institution in the region. When funds were allocated for school Wi-Fi, we wanted to harness the internet to provide a world-class education to every student in this district.
Our initiative to address digital equity issues began with the rollout of Kajeet SmartSpots for students who needed home internet access. In the four years since the launch of our 1:1 program, the number of students without internet has dropped from 30% to 10%, as parents have seen the benefits for their children and made it a priority . For those 10% who still don’t have the Internet, we had an easy-to-use solution.
Since robust filtering and reporting features are standard with Kajeet, we are now able to ensure that students are using Wi-Fi for their intended educational purposes. While we have a responsibility to be CIPA compliant, we are also able to set notifications when students violate our Acceptable Use Policy by visiting sites they shouldn’t. We can then determine when it is necessary to intervene.
To address both digital access and the district’s commitment to keeping students connected to school, we began to consider Wi-Fi on buses. Some students spend up to an hour on the bus to and from school each day, and school-sponsored sporting events often require a 1.5-hour ride each way. Putting Wi-Fi on the buses was a concrete way to solve a problem and provide opportunities for students.
With Wi-Fi on the buses, drivers immediately reported that students were engaged and working on homework on their journeys instead of getting into trouble. In fact, when it comes to discipline issues, the bus is often one of the most challenging environments for many schools, yet we’ve reduced these behavioral incidents by 70%.
Success is in the numbers. Over the past three years, our attendance rates have increased, as well as our grades 3-8 grades. School is not a place where students should go; that’s where they want to go. We believe the digital learning initiative has been the foundation of their success.
Kendra LeRoy: Connecting to today’s parents who use smartphones
I work in a group of four teachers who collaborate to teach the different subjects in 5th grade. To keep us all connected, we use the Bloomz parent-teacher app to post announcements and updates to parents of students individually or in groups.