Wi-Fi Turns Rowdy Bus Into Rolling Study Hall

Today’s cover story in the New York Times describes a high-tech experiment in Vail School District, a progressive technology district in Arizona, where Wi-Fi access is now available via a new medium: school buses. Referred to as the “Internet bus” by students, Vail purchased routers at $200 each to create wireless connections, and so far the result has been a calmer bus ride while students get homework done before school, a study hall on wheels. According to the article, “Internet buses may soon be hauling children to school in many other districts, particularly those with long bus routes. The company marketing the router, Autonet Mobile, says it has sold them to schools or districts in Florida, Missouri and Washington, D.C.”

The director of Education Technology at the Department of Education, Karen Cator, said the buses are part of a wider effort to use technology to extend learning beyond classroom walls and the six-hour school day. While the verdict is still out as to whether unexpected problems may emerge during the experiment, it’s this kind of innovative thinking that helps keep our education system moving forward to stimulate learning in all kinds of environments.

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What are other innovative ways we can use technology to enhance learning?

How can we ensure that student success programs are in place nationwide that promote critical and creative thinking? This is the kind of thinking that drives innovation to make a better world for us all.



New York Times
February 12, 2010
Wi-Fi Turns Rowdy Bus Into Rolling Study Hall

VAIL, Ariz. — Students endure hundreds of hours on yellow buses each year getting to and from school in this desert exurb of Tucson, and stir-crazy teenagers break the monotony by teasing, texting, flirting, shouting, climbing (over seats) and sometimes punching (seats or seatmates).

But on this chilly morning, as bus No. 92 rolls down a mountain highway just before dawn, high school students are quiet, typing on laptops.

Morning routines have been like this since the fall, when school officials mounted a mobile Internet router to bus No. 92’s sheet-metal frame, enabling students to surf the Web. The students call it the Internet Bus, and what began as a high-tech experiment has had an old-fashioned — and unexpected — result. Wi-Fi access has transformed what was often a boisterous bus ride into a rolling study hall, and behavioral problems have virtually disappeared.

To view this entire article visit www.nytimes.com

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