Serving as a classroom teacher, school administrator and chief technology officer over the course of 14 years, I’ve seen the emergence of classroom instruction combined with self-directed online study. Blended learning, as it is called, is gaining in popularity. In fact, recent statistics show that more than half of sixth- through 12th-grade students complete online homework assignments on a weekly basis.
Unfortunately, not all students have equal access to broadband at home. According to a November 2014 report issued by the U.S. Census Bureau, households with annual income of under $25,000 are less than half as likely to have broadband access as those with $150,000 or more.
I’ve seen how this digital divide not only impedes student success but also keeps school districts from leveraging the tremendous potential of blended learning programs. It even poses a problem for society as a whole by perpetuating economic disadvantage from one generation to the next.
The Kajeet Solution
One solution to the digital divide, that I’ve become familiar with, is from a company called Kajeet. Delivering wireless technology to children since 2003, Kajeet has an answer to the K–12 Internet access issue: Education Broadband.
Education Broadband provides school districts with an economical, effective and safe way of offering mobile 4G LTE broadband access to students through their own devices or through wireless access points. Kajeet’s filtering solution complies with the Children’s Internet Protection Act, so parents and school administrators can rest assured that students won’t be exposed to inappropriate material. It also blocks non-educational streaming media to help keep costs below typical consumer rates.
Kajeet lets school districts choose how they want to run their wireless access programs. They can manage their own programs through a cloud-based portal that gives them full control of filters, white lists and blacklists, time-of-day limits and device administration. Under this self-managed program, school districts pool broadband usage that doesn’t expire and rolls forward each month.
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Alternatively, school districts can have Kajeet administer their programs on a turnkey basis. With this option, the school system pays a flat monthly rate for each device, and Kajeet manages everything, including onboarding, device administration and technical support.
Both approaches enable school districts to give eligible students low-cost broadband Internet, while enjoying appropriate control and visibility.
Ensuring Equitable Access
Kajeet Education Broadband benefits school systems in these ways:
- Gives all students a fair shot at academic success
- Allows them to fully embrace blended learning without having to worry about disadvantages for any of their students
- Enables curriculum leaders to continuously track student engagement
- Minimizes wireless costs
- Reduces burdens on IT staff
- Ensures students’ online safety
Kajeet Education Broadband also puts an end to the modern variant of the “my-dog-ate-my-homework” excuse, because it lets teachers see whether there really was a problem with a student’s broadband connection.
I know educators want to do their best for every student. But cost and complexity often pose obstacles for school districts seeking to assist digitally disadvantaged students. Kajeet Education Broadband overcomes those obstacles. In my opinion, it’s definitely worth a look.