Over 800 school districts across the nation partner with Kajeet to help close the Homework Gap. One state in particular is working (and funding) student access outside the classroom.
The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) recently approved $9.2 million in annual funding for student mobile devices and supporting software through the Wisconsin Personal Electronic Computing Devices Grant. This is a great start to helping ensure digital equity for students, along with closing the Homework Gap, especially as 25 percent of K-12 students in Wisconsin do not have Internet access at home.
There are already so many districts in Wisconsin doing great work to close the Homework Gap, and we would like to highlight just a few of those who do provide Internet to help their students succeed.
Green Bay Area Public School District: Closing the Homework Gap
Diane Doersch, the chief technology and information officer of Green Bay Area Public School District was tasked with ensuring all students across their 41 schools had access to Internet after school – not the easiest task.
“In today’s competitive world, it is important that school districts support student access to technology, including the Internet, not only in school but in the home as well.”
Diane Doersch, Chief Technology and Information Officer, Green Bay Area Public School District
Diane and her technology team met to evaluate their options. The team chose the Kajeet SmartSpot® solution (Wi-Fi hotspots) due to the filtered, CIPA-complaint service that is easily monitored and controlled remotely.
Here are the steps Diane took to accomplish her goal:
- Evaluated various connectivity options.
- “Test-Drove” devices to ensure ease-of-use for students.
- Trained staff with meetings and a how-to video.
The Check-Out Model: Serving More Kids for Less
Green Bay implemented a check-out model in each school in order to serve as many students as possible. Students can check out the Kajeet SmartSpot (Wi-Fi hotspot) for up to three days at a time, but only after completing a permission slip and responsibility and use agreement.
The result? “I serve several students who don’t have access to reliable computers and/or Internet… Without this option [Kajeet], I don’t feel that they would be prepared for the demands they would encounter beyond graduation,” said teacher Daryl Buck, Green Bay Area Public School District.
If you are interested in reading their full story, check it out here.
Mineral Point School District: Providing Consistent Access for Alternative Program Students
Mineral Point School District says on average, students have suitable Internet coverage at home, but the outliers – such as those in the alternative program or in rural areas – lack the same Internet as their peers.
Alternative Program Options
Their alternative program, called Options in Education, is for grades 6-12. The program is currently in transition as a new facility is being built. Mineral Point provides Kajeet SmartSpot devices so students will have the consistent Internet coverage they need in order to do their school work during the move to this new building.
“The Options in Education [Alternative] School has devices and are having great success.”
Kris McCoy, Library Media Technology Specialist, Mineral Point Middle/High School
Making 1:1 Work for Rural Students
Students in any grade across the middle school, high school, and alternative program can checkout a hotspot device from the library. The Library Media Technology Specialist works with the teachers to publicize the Kajeet devices to students. This is particularly important for the middle school students who do not bring their devices home, but may have an online project or assignment where they need device and Internet access.
Mineral Point provided recommendations for other libraries looking to use a device checkout model:
- Catalog devices to match the library’s current book/device checkout model.
- Add the Kajeet SmartSpot barcodes to the Kajeet Sentinel® dashboard for quick cross-referencing.
Kris said, “It’s interesting to see how often the Kajeet devices are being used and the breakdown of searches students are doing.”
And there are still more school districts closing the Homework Gap in innovative ways, including the next partner we would like to highlight.
Stevens Point Area Public School District: Serving K-12 Students through SmartBus™ and SmartSpot
This school district began providing 1:1 laptops to their students over seven years ago. But the district was aware of the 10 percent of students who did not have Internet access at home.
Stevens Point Area Public School District Director of Technology Brian Casey thought, “Why have students take a computer home if they don’t have Internet access?” And he decided to change that narrative.
Getting Creative with the SmartBus Router
Stevens Point primarily uses the portable Kajeet SmartBus solution for school buses with over 30-minute routers, or long-haul charter buses.
But, the district also has one portable router in a school that has poor Internet access. The router is part of their informal emergency plan if a school loses connection.
And prior to installing fiber, their Boston School Forest (yes, a school that is out in the woods) used routers to connect during educational programs.
SmartSpot Device Deployment: Just Apply
Stevens Point had no problem distributing the Kajeet SmartSpot devices. Students apply for devices at the start of the school year. Now all high school students have Internet access outside the classroom.
“It’s unreasonable to expect all students to have Internet access. It’s one thing that has to be considered – you can’t leave those kids out. I don’t think that’s good enough anymore. Now that we have tools like Kajeet there are no more excuses.”
Brian Casey, Director of Technology, Stevens Point Area Public School District
Wisconsin educators, for more information on this grant, please check out the Kajeet Wisconsin Grant page here. On this page you can find out the grant details and eligibility (spoiler alert - every school in Wisconsin that has ninth-grade students are eligible), how grant reimbursement is broken down, eligible Kajeet items for purchase, and more information regarding the grant.
If you have questions about the grant and the Kajeet solutions, contact us here.
This blog post was updated on Jan. 22, 2019.