Original article can be found on TDT News.

By Mariel Williams; September 27, 2018

In order to help rural students keep up with technology and their homework assignments, Moody schools are piloting a program to put WiFi on school buses.

Moody Independent School District was one of 30 institutions across the nation to receive a Homework Gap Grant from Kajeet this fall. Kajeet is a 15-year-old technology company that specializes in finding ways to make mobile technology safe and effective for children.

With the grant, the district will receive Kajeet’s SmartBus WiFi devices for its school buses and will get 10 months WiFi service for free.

According to Kajeet, students across the country spend an average of 40 minutes on school buses every day. In Moody ISD, students spend up to an hour a day on the school bus, a district press release said.

“We have a couple of routes that are fairly long — they’re rural routes,” technology director Nancy Molina said.

Molina said that the students with the longest bus routes are frequently the ones with the least internet access.

“We survey the kids every year, and we see that a lot of our kids who live further out don’t have reliable internet access at home. A lot of them, if they do have it, it’s just through their mom’s cellphone data,” she said.

The district tried allowing some students check out WiFi hotspots to take home. However, for those who most needed the access, the hotspots frequently did not work because of their remote location.

Molina said that the district has been trying to incorporate more technology into its teaching methods recently.

“It doesn’t do us any good … to try some of these innovative teaching (techniques) when they get home and they can’t use them,” Molina said. “So we’ve been exploring various avenues, and I saw a grant opportunity to pilot WiFi on the school buses.”

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