This is the headline that roped me in, at The New York Times: “Wi-Fi Turns Rowdy Bus into Rolling Study Hall.”
And a short excerpt:
But on this chilly morning, as bus No. 92 rolls down a mountain highway just before dawn, high school students are quiet, typing on laptops.
Morning routines have been like this since the fall, when school officials mounted a mobile Internet router to bus No. 92’s sheet-metal frame, enabling students to surf the Web. The students call it the Internet Bus, and what began as a high-tech experiment has had an old-fashioned — and unexpected — result. Wi-Fi access has transformed what was often a boisterous bus ride into a rolling study hall, and behavioral problems have virtually disappeared.
What would your bus drivers say?
(File under “If you teach them, they will learn — and behavior problems will fade away.”)
Don’t miss the end of the article:
A ride through mountains on a drizzly afternoon can be unpredictable, even on the Internet Bus. Through the windows on the left, inky clouds suddenly parted above a ridge, revealing an arc of incandescent color.
“Dude, there’s a rainbow!” shouted Morghan Sonderer, a ninth grader.
A dozen students looked up from their laptops and cellphones, abandoning technology to stare in wonder at the eastern sky.
“It’s following us!” Morghan exclaimed.
“We’re being stalked by a rainbow!” Jerod said.
- These students attend Empire High School in Vail, Arizona, near Tucson. It’s a digital high school, in a district that appears to me to be well above average in family income and technology smarts among parents who vote for school board members — maybe in school board members, too. The article says, “The Vail District, with 18 schools and 10,000 students, is sprawled across 425 square miles of subdivision, mesquite and mountain ridges southeast of Tucson. Many parents work at local Raytheon and I.B.M. plants. Others are ranchers.”
- Empire high has a self-directed learner model — looks good online, and judging from the news article, it looks good in practice. These aren’t my students, maybe not your students, either.
- Vail District has four high schools — Empire High requires applications, so it’s not your run-of-the-mill urban or suburban school; other schools have a lot of technology, too
- You may want to visit the website of the Office of Educational Technology at the U.S. Department of Education (a vast improvement on the equivalent I had in my organization there two decades ago!)
- Autonet Mobile made the router used for this bus