Wednesday, May 03, 2017

'Rolling study halls' in rural South Carolina county connect students to wi-fi on school buses

Middle school student Lakaysha Governor works
on her Chromebook (AP photo by Meg Kinnard)
Students at six schools in rural Berkeley County, South Carolina now have access to broadband through a Google pilot program that equips 28 school buses with Wi-Fi, reports The Associated Press. Google "also has given the school district 1,700 Chromebooks, the stripped-down laptops on which many schoolchildren now do their class and homework."

Plans of "rolling study halls" were released earlier this year, and with more classroom and homework assignments migrating online, Google hopes to expand the use of Wi-Fi on school buses in other rural areas around the country. Google spokeswoman Lilyn Hester told AP that they will start "in other rural areas where it already has data centers that process search queries and other information," adding that the expansions are also need-based.

The "rolling study halls" allow kids "who have commutes as long as an hour and a half to maximize the time between the classroom and home," Liza Lucas reports for WCSC Television in Charleston, S.C. The program focuses on Title 1 Schools, which receive federal assistance because of high numbers or high percentages of low-income children. Berkeley County has a poverty rate of 13 percent and only 22.3 percent of adults 25 and older have a bachelor's degree or higher, according to Census Bureau data.

Berkeley County, South Carolina
(Wikipedia map)
John Rivers, mayor of St. Stephen, which has three schools participating in the program, told Lucas, “It’s huge because in a rural area like St. Stephen, most of our students don’t have access to Internet or WiFi. You’d be surprised how many of our young people have never even left St. Stephen, this gives them a chance to explore and travel around the world without even leaving home.”

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