Wi-Fi To-Go: A Look at Schools’ Efforts to Extend Learning Beyond the Classroom

For years, readily available access to the internet in classrooms has become, for many teachers, a necessity when it comes to preparing and executing lesson plans for their students.Wi-Fi has undoubtedly changed the way teachers teach and student learn. This in turn has led to a growing trend nationwide, of schools providing students with free wireless “hotspots” to ensure that no matter where they go, students will always have access to the educational resources they need through Wi-Fi. This coming over two years after a 2015 decision by the FCC, who deemed Wi-Fi so valuable towards students’ educational well-being, that they pledged to spend $1 billion annually for five years to help schools strengthen their internal networks.

This week, Spartanburg School District One, in upstate South Carolina,
launched a new tech initiative aimed at providing students with what they’re calling “Jet Packs,” which come complete with wireless hotspot devices that grant students instant and reliable access to Wi-Fi, regardless of their location. The initiative allows students to check out a “Jet Pack” for up to a week from the school library to ensure they are afforded access to Wi-Fi at home. As a part of the initiative, Spartanburg School District One plans to study the overall impact of technology on students, by periodically tracking data from the hotspots.

Similarly, last month, Maryville City Schools in Maryville, TN,
announced that they were expanding upon their iReach initiative, which began two years ago as an effort to guarantee one computer for every student. With nearly 4 percent of the city’s students lacking a reliable high-speed connection for homework at home, Maryville City Schools revealed they would be providing wireless hotspot devices for students across the district in an attempt to remedy this issue. In fact, as of October 2017, Maryville City Schools had already loaned 25 wireless hot spots to families with 42 students, as a part of its Every1Connected program. 

As more schools across the country make student access to Wi-Fi a top priority, Wi-Fi will continue to play a pivotal role in how our students learn. Just as Wi-Fi has changed the way we interact with one another on a daily basis, it has also changed the way teachers interact with students. With access to Wi-Fi, students are constantly a few clicks away from accessing all of the necessary materials and support from their teachers that they need, in order to excel in and out of the classroom. Schools like Spartanburg School District One and Maryville City Schools, deserve to be recognized and applauded for taking steps to guarantee all of their students access to Wi-Fi.

wififorward.org to learn more about the work that we’re doing to support Wi-Fi and other unlicensed spectrum-based technologies.