ChallengeIt’s one of the great tensions in education: the need for consistent time in the classroom vs. the rich experiences that only occur when learning goes on the road: field trips, vocational learning, competitions, music performances, sports events etc. Some of students’ most memorable, powerful lessons come from school activities that can’t happen at school. But whenever students travel during classes, they are losing invaluable instructional time due to bus travel.
Recapturing lost instructional time had been a major conversation topic for North Kansas City Schools for a few years. As assistant director of transportation for the school district, Lon Waterman wondered how he could address the problem. “I began to research how much time some of our students spend in buses during the school day,” explains Waterman.
SolutionWaterman came up with the idea of putting WiFi on buses so that students could access Internet resources for homework, research, online classes, the district’s blackboard system, video tutorials, etc. while they’re on the bus. He approached Eric Sipes, Executive Director of Information Technology Services, with his idea. Waterman and Sipes researched how they could make WiFi work on buses, which led them to CradlePoint.
North Kansas City Schools implemented the CradlePoint COR IBR600 with integrated 4G LTE on four of the district’s activity buses used for longer trips. With its small footprint, hardened case, embedded modem, and external antennas for improved signal, the COR IBR600 is the ideal solution for buses. The COR IBR600 receives a stronger signal than a USB modem would. Accessing 4G LTE, the COR IBR600’s robust WiFi has not disappointed. Waterman and Sipes’ field tests showed that the router broadcast a clear signal 200 yards away from the bus – which proved important for uses with some classes – and that at least 22 students could stream video at once. Waterman and Sipes found that the COR IBR600 provided everything they had hoped. “Everything has gone as we expected.” said Waterman.
The CradlePoint solution meshed perfectly with other technologies implemented in the school district. Every high school student receives a MacBook Air with security features and Internet filters already integrated into the laptop. Only those district-issued devices can connect to the WiFi on the buses, and everything on the network has to go through the district servers. Also, the buses are equipped with extra security features including video surveillance. “We feel comfortable that kids are not going to be able to access anything they shouldn’t,” said Waterman.
* Case Study courtesy of CradlePoint
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