STEVENS POINT – A new program will provide Wi-Fi service to students who don’t have Internet access at home.
A partnership between the Stevens Point Area Public School District and the Sentry Insurance Foundation has provided laptops to high school students for about five years, said Brian Casey, the district’s technology director. The program gave the students access to a uniform set of digital tools to complete their school work, he said.
But those laptops are next to useless without access to the Web, and district research found that about 10 percent of the students who got laptops did not have access at home.
The new program aims to narrow the digital divide between people who have Internet access and those who don’t, according to the district. The district purchased 200 mobile broadband units using funding from Sentry Technology Initiative to help with the problem.
“It’s really a fundamental need that everyone have access to the Internet,” Casey said.
To find access, some students have come in early or stayed late at school to use Wi-Fi, or gone to local businesses or the library. But students who are involved in extracurricular activities might not have those options.
The Kajeet Smartspot will provide 500 megabytes of filtered Internet access a day and is available by application. The websites available through the Wi-Fi service will be limited more strictly than they are at school. Entertainment websites like Netflix, for example, will be unavailable.
“It’s meant to give kids access to Internet for school-related activities,” Casey said. “It’s filtered on that end.”
Applications to get a device are due to the district by Sept. 4, with eligibility determined by financial need and a student’s record with the 1:1 laptop program. Students must not have any access to Internet at home to be eligible for the program.
How to apply
Applications for a Kajeet Smartspot device are available at district secondary school offices and at the Bliss Educational Services Building, 1900 Polk St., Stevens Point. Eligibility is based on:
•Lack of Internet access at home
•Participation in extracurricular activities that would limit a student’s ability to use the school’s Wi-Fi
•The number of siblings in the student’s family enrolled in the district.
Students must not have a history of computer violations, technology abuse or disciplinary actions involving computer use, according to the district.
When we started Kajeet in 2003, we wanted kids to be agile with technology, to be empowered and safe, and we wanted to help them respond with confidence to what's happening in their world. Not incidentally, we want parents, educators and guardians to be involved too. Being part of the mobile world is not just fun, it’s a shared responsibility.