A new program rolled out by Google will equip rural school buses with Wi-Fi and student riders with Chromebooks, so they can use long commutes as study time.
Google is expanding its “Rolling Study Halls” to 16 more school districts, including at Deer Trail Schools in Colorado on Monday, after successful pilot programs in North Carolina and South Carolina, the technology company announced. It is part of the “For Education” initiative that assists students in rural areas, and on long commutes to and from school to do homework.
One piloting school district, Caldwell County Schools in North Carolina, provided 100 Chromebooks to students for use on the district’s nine school buses that average 1.5 hour commutes in the morning and the afternoon.
Pat Triplett, executive director of the Education Foundation, Inc. of Caldwell County that partners with Google, said that excitement and success are words coming from students and staff since the inception of the rolling study hall. “Students have already begun to gain skills and knowledge beyond the classroom, while using new available technology,” Triplett said.
Monica Martin, the assistant principal for Gamewell Middle School in Lenoir, North Carolina, added that student behavior on the school buses has also improved. “With more time on task, coupled with the monitoring feature of the cameras, we’ve had fewer discipline problems from students,” she explained. It has become an extra security measure for the drivers as well. They can now focus more on the road and less on discipline.”
School bus Wi-Fi provider Kajeet said Google selected the company to provide CIPA-compliant internet connectivity via the Kajeet Educational Broadband solution. Kajeet is also providing participating school districts with its cloud-based Kajeet Sentinel solution that manages student data and filters.
“This innovative cloud service provides school administrators with actionable insights into how students use Kajeet Education Broadband, and which websites and other internet resources they access through robust reporting and analytics,” the company explained in a statement on Monday.
Kajeet said its SmartBus already provides school bus Wi-Fi in 127 school districts across 34 states. Recently, the company added GPS to the SmartBus, to allow transportation staff to pinpoint school bus location and to monitor driving speeds.
The company also provides students of 400 school districts nationwide with internet access at home with Kajeet SmartSpot devices.