Much of the Northeast and Midwest face school delays and closures again. School administrators, teachers and parents continued to be concerned about the number of days students are missing due to weather.  While students love the days off, the cancellations mean headaches for everyone else. Snow days cost time and money and leave many students behind.

Districts are looking at ways to cram in as much instructional time as possible, including, in some places, decreasing recess to keep the pace moving so additional days aren’t added onto the calendar. Many teachers may try to prepare ahead of time, by sending home assignments with students before the snow hits.

The Virtual School Day

A recent CNN article pointed to a few school districts that are using school-provided laptops to extend the learning when staff and students are stuck at home.  Pascack Valley Regional District in New Jersey was one of the districts giving the “virtual school day” a try this winter.

The results? The work was completed. Students and teachers communicated. Attendance was higher than a normal school day.

Internet Access for All Students

Even when student are provided laptops or tablets, many don’t have access to broadband at home. In fact, approximately 40 percent of students do not have the Internet connection they need at home to support a virtual school day.  Unless a school is certain 100 percent of its students have access, it would be unfair to give assignments to only those who did.

While not all schools are ready to implement a 1:1 technology, the fact is, more will be heading that direction as new assessments are required. Snow days might be easier  for school districts to digest if students are able to keep up with work at home.  With school-issued laptops and tablets for students, comes the need for making safe broadband available at home.

For many parents who are not able to take off from work and stay home with their snowed-in kids, a great deal of peace of mind can be found in the idea that school work is continuing at home. The Kajeet SmartSpot device is a portable hotspot that provides safe mobile broadband for those students who don’t have Internet at home. Currently used by 15 school districts around the country, Kajeet is helping to make any day, including snow days, a opportunity for learning.

If your school district would like more information on providing safe mobile broadband to students, please contact Kajeet for more information. 

In the wake of technology’s ever-expanding potential, the safe mobile broadband of Kajeet SmartSpot™ is reconciling a digital schism in education and bridging the gap between privileged and low-income students, an issue which this 2013 Pew Research survey of more than 2,400 middle school and high school Advanced Placement (AP) and National Writing Project (NWP) teachers confirms. Here are a few of the survey’s most eye-opening findings:

  • More than half (54%) of teachers say all or almost all of their students have sufficient accesDDbackgrounds to digital tools at school, but only a fifth of these teachers (18%) say all or almost all of their students have access to the digital tools they need at home.
  • 39% of teachers of low-income students say their school is “behind the curve” when it comes to effectively using digital tools in the learning process; just 15% of teachers of higher income students rate their schools poorly in this area.
  • 49% of teachers of students living in low income households say their school’s use of Internet filters has a “major impact” on their teaching.
  • 92% of teachers say the Internet has a “major impact” on their ability to access content, resources, and materials for their teaching.
  • 73% of teachers say students use their mobile phones in the classroom or to complete assignments, and 45% report they or their students use e-readers and 43% use tablet computers in the classroom or to complete assignments.
  • 42% of teachers say their students usually know more than they do when it comes to using new digital technologies.  Just 18% feel they know more than their students.

Responses like these affirm that there are three things every 21st century student needs: access, mobility, and filtering — all of which are encompassed by Kajeet SmartSpot™!

Read the full survey here — and learn more about Kajeet’s work to bridge the digital divide here!

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