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Wireless internet in schools: Education for the future

by Theresa Bentz, Reporter

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Many schools are advancing their technology by adding Wireless internet and the program BOYD (bring your own device) to their new approach to education. But is Linganore lacking behind by not acquiring BOYD?

Montgomery County Public Schools have acquired Wireless internet over the summer by adding wireless internet to more than 100 schools.

The Upgrade to wireless network in schools this year cost Montgomery about $5.6 million; it was funded with federal grant money and county dollars.

Many local schools such as Catoctin, Urbana, and Windsor knolls have wireless internet as well. These schools using the program BOYD this is a new program to create educational opportunities by allowing students and teachers to have internet access.

At Linganore there is wireless internet for teachers to plug their laptops in, but for us to access it on our own devices we would need to get the program BOYD along with the wireless internet

“Wireless network access is paramount to both staff and students if we intend to provide our school system with a collaborative 21st century learning environment” said Derek Root Director of Technology Infrastructure of Frederick County.

The wireless internet and interactive whiteboards allow students to have video conferences with experts and students around the world; they participate in “virtual field trips” and develop multimedia presentations that are part of the school curriculum.

Root brought up a more direct example of how the wireless internet can help. “We focus on technology as a tool used to support curricular   goals.  When concentrating on the core areas of its use, active engagement, participation in groups, interaction/feedback, and connection to subject matter, we enhance the educational atmosphere for students.  Examples of this are brought to my attention almost daily.”

Access to Wireless internet could be motivation to learn for students. Wireless internet could be a different way of motivation. Students use it as a way to get their work done easily by going online to do it.

“Special education programs have rapidly adopted technology.  The software market is bristling with new applications in this field.  A prime example of this is assistive technology for individuals who previously had limited and often unwieldy communications solution” said Root.    The use of WI-FI can adapt to any level of skill.

Sophomore Gabrielle Pirolli says, “I would personally use WI-FI to look up vocab words in class.” She thinks having WI-FI would positively affect the school “because if you don’t use it properly then it would be a distraction, but if you use for good reasons, it would not be, and the teachers can monitor how you use it in class.”

Access to wireless internet could cause a distraction to students, like making going on social networks more available. “School is not on your phone,” says junior Ross Hayek. However to make social networks unavailable is probably unrealistic.

90 percent of parents polled say that teens need to be monitored to ensure they are using the internet to access appropriate sites and acceptable times of the day.

“The generation of children entering school today has essentially been “connected” since they were toddlers.  Functioning in an off-line environment will leave them feeling uneasy and disconcerted.  The investment we are making in Wi-Fi is as essential to prepare students for the modern workplace and higher education as pen and paper was just a few years ago,” Root says.

Instead of thinking that WI-FI is an unnecessary distraction, why not think of it as a preparation for the modern work place?

Another drawback is that many students cannot afford smartphones or an electronic device that is able to access WI-FI.

“I feel strongly that all of our schools should have fair and equitable access to the technological infrastructure regardless of the socioeconomic makeup of their population.  The FCPS leadership team continually strives to ensure that no student is deprived the ability to access modern technology.” Root said.

“Readily available access to information is a powerful equalizer when applied education and it provides students of any background the ability to compete and excel,” says Root.

Having the right tools for students, like a laptop and wireless broadband connection will give them the proper tools. Higher education involving college and university years will require the use of a computer and the internet, no matter where you plan on attending.

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Wireless internet in schools: Education for the future