Digital Equity in the Age of the Internet
“School-aged kids without broadband access at home are not only unable to complete their homework – they enter the job market with a serious handicap. And that loss is more than individual. It’s a loss to the collective human capital and shared economic future that we need to address.” — FCC Commissioner, Jessica Rosenworcel
When San Diego Unified School District gave a laptop computer to all of their students at Innovation Middle School, they also gave them a device that provided internet access, wherever the student was. They gave them to all the students, knowing that many students in this school did not have reliable internet access at home, and they didn’t ask which students needed it. After two years, the students said that the internet access enhanced their learning. And the data reflected it - Innovation Middle School students had a 43-point increase in their API score, the highest increase of any middle school in the district.
What happens when a student in today’s technology-saturated world does not have access to the internet at home? How about that student’s family? Can you contemplate doing your day-to-day tasks like paying bills and communicating with family, friends and colleagues without internet? Could you easily apply to college without an internet connection? It may appear that everyone has internet these days, but the truth is different. While the gap in access has dropped significantly over the last 20 years, there is a significant number of children in our school systems today who live somewhere with no reliable access to the internet. What if there was a solution to this problem, one that could help the most vulnerable segment of our school-aged population maintain a better footing with the technological world we are living in today?
At Ka’ana Solutions, most of our collaboration and work takes place virtually, so internet access is a requirement. But we want any student to be able to participate, even if they don’t have good and consistent internet connectivity at home. So we have negotiated an agreement to purchase devices from a company called Kajeet for any student in the program who needs it. The Kajeet SmartSpot ® device is a simple cellular data “hotspot” that can provide wi-fi internet access for several devices at a time. It works on multiple networks, including Verizon and AT&T and comes with a configurable CIPA-compliant filter - no Netflix or commercial gaming sites.
Students who need internet access, whether all year or just for a few weeks, are given a device to keep with them. They can attach their Chromebook, laptop, tablet and/or phone, and when they are at home a parent can connect a device too. This connection will allow the student to access all of the tools we use at Ka’ana Solutions - like Guru, Slack and Intercom - as well as access to online school resources like Google G-Suite, Hono Hub, Connexus and Unrulr. We can also provide one to students when they are traveling somewhere but still want to work and may not have good access.
Schools all over the United States are using devices like the Kajeet device to provide filtered high-speed internet access to students. Kajeet devices are also being used on school buses to provide wi-fi to students, many of whom have long bus rides and can use the time to complete homework and collaborate with other students. The devices are also being used across entire schools to create internet access when there is insufficient wired access provided to the school.
At Ka’ana Solutions we believe that access to the internet is an equity issue. That is why we are excited to announce that Ka’ana Solutions has joined the Kajeet Referral Partner Program where we will have the opportunity to help identify schools and other organizations in Hawaii who would benefit from providing students with ubiquitous internet access. Revenue from this partnership will be used to fund student activities in the Ka’ana Solution Technology Career Readiness Elective. Please contact us if you are interested in learning more, and look for our presentation and booth at the Schools of the Future Conference October 3rd and 4th, 2019.
About Ka’ana Solutions
Kaʻana Solutions is a Hawaii-based 501c(3) non-profit corporation that creates experiential learning opportunities for high school students in the education technology sector. Through an innovative Technology Career Readiness Elective offered to schools in Hawaii, students build skills that will prepare them for the careers of the future and the colleges of their choice. Learn more at www.kaana.org.
Kajeet, the industry leader for safe, managed mobile solutions, powers the K-12 connected environment. The secure Kajeet Sentinel® platform centrally manages and enables safe, online connectivity and visibility into mobile learning environments. Schools and districts can manage and protect student mobile devices anywhere to create an ideal learning environment while extending the school day with Wi-Fi on the bus and Internet access outside the classroom. From the classroom to home, Kajeet has students covered. See www.kajeet.com for more information.