No question advances in information technology have revolutionized how teachers help students in the classroom. But now it goes beyond the traditional four walls, outside what’s considered normal working hours, to help students late into the evening.
In their quest to achieve “technology equity” for all students, Weatherford ISD - (WISD) has launched Kangaroo Wi-Fi Hopspots.
WISD has created a safe place for students to extend the school day by extending Wi-Fi to its campus grounds from 4-10 pm on weekdays and 8 am – 10 pm on weekends.
But it gets better.
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WISD is also partnering with local businesses to join them in the effort.
“There are plenty of businesses in town that offer free guest wifi today. Then, there are those that would love to offer it but don’t have the technological expertise to do it,” said Executive Director of Technology, Cody Lee.
But Lee said the school district had the solution.
“We have hardware we’ve recouped from classrooms during our network rebuild over the last two summers,” Lee said. “So it’s getting recycled to be used in the community.”
Lee said WISD is offering to go into businesses and hang an access point, provided the business has internet access, which more than likely they have.
“We can manage it remotely and offer the same network the kids would use at school - after hours - in a business,” Lee said. “So a local restaurant can offer the same hot spot network that a student sees at school.”
For a business that may not of seating for guest, Lee said an access point near the front of the business can still help students outside, perhaps near a grassy area or park.
“It’s the same safe, filtered connection available to students during the school day with no password, “ Lee added. “It’s a community project, to expand access not just to students and the four walls of the classroom, but to parent as well.”
It’s estimated that upwards of 20 percent or greater of WISD students don’t have access to wifi, especially outside the city limits, said Charlotte Lagrone, Executive Director of Organizational Culture.
“We go way beyond the city with our schools,” she said. “We’ve already have some businesses that have signed up for this free opportunity. We encourage the business community to join us and here’s how they can help.”
1. If you do not currently provide Wi-Fi at your business location, but would like to, Weatherford ISD invites you to join our Wi-Fi HopSpot network. The Weatherford ISD Technology Department can assist with the hardware needed.
▪ Your business will need to provide a broadband internet connection.
▪ WISD will provide the wireless access point to broadcast the WISD HopSpot network.
▪ We will send you a Roo HopSpot window cling (see below) for your business to display and also place your business name and location on the Wi-Fi map for students.
2. If you currently provide free Wi-Fi to your customers and support students gathering in your business after school hours or on weekends, please let us know. We would love to add your business to our map of Wi-Fi hotspots.
“Education is moving so fast towards an online platform,” said Weatherford ISD Superintendent Dr. Jeffery Hanks. “It’s not just books anymore. Our kids need access to technology outside of the school day.”
Hanks said the district knows a significant number of kids in WISD don’t have internet access at home.
“We’ve done surveys and queried them yet we’re handing them a laptop or some device and saying here - go do your homework on this - and they may not have access to the internet.”
So WISD is trying to bridge the gap Hanks said .
“It may be sitting outside one of the school campuses in their car, but at least student will have access to internet at no cost to them,” Hanks added.
Sign me up!
For questions regarding this effort call:
▪ Cody Lee - Executive Director of Technology 817-598-2915
Or email firstname.lastname@example.org
▪ Charlotte LaGrone - Executive Director of Organizational Culture, 817-598-2956
Or email email@example.com