One issue that exist when digitizing the classroom is establishing open means for connectivity for each student’s advancement. Within the desert of the Coachella Valley, many students have undergone and live in similar circumstances. In poverty-stricken areas such as these Internet connections are shared by a whole slew of family members: cousins, uncles-some living under the same roof, some nearby-and neighbors, too. It gets so congested that it often slows to a halt.
Although, this school’s able to supply their students with Apple iPads which acts as an aid in the betterment of their education, it’s purpose is destroyed when it remains intangible for usage at home. Meanwhile, the students had to manage the work that required their completion, still void of such an essential application that would enable them to do so. Eventually, homework became a troubling test for students throughout this school district and the voice of Sergio Duran Jr was able to enlighten and reestablish a movement that elicits technology and connectivity that is accessible to all students and reinvented the lives of everyone in this community.
You see, the Coachella Valley Unified School District, where Duran lives, is one of the poorest counties in the United States: 95% of the district lives below the national poverty level. “I said, Let’s put routers on the buses’ Not only could students use it on their way to school, we can also park those buses in their neighborhoods. Their connectivity doesn’t have to end at 3 o’clock. They can use it after all hours,”said Adams. Bus wiring turned out to be surprisingly affordable after using only half of their allotted money buying the iPads and wiring their schools. “We will put a router on a pigeon if we had to. This is so important. Students have to be connected. Can you imagine a day without connectivity?”
Hence forth this program began implementation all around the Valley, and the school district has been able to narrow in on each individual pupil that needs access. They have expanded beyond their own vehicle fleet -they are wiring salvaged cars and non- school buses in an attempt to create as many hotspots as possible. “Even if there’s only one home out of our reach, we want to make sure all students are connected,” Duran’s says.
The buses which are the same ones that take pupils to school are sprinkled throughout the community from playgrounds, to empty lots and mobile home parks,. Yet, they later discovered that the connectivity is not only helping the students. Although, the hotspots are password-protected, pupils are sharing the access with family members. Many families, he says, use this access to learn English, do their CVS and complete daily work. The district is even using the connectivity to help their people become US citizens.
“More significant, student engagement is just off the charts and attendance rates are at an all-time high: 90% of the kids come to school every day. That’s unheard of, especially in a low-income district,” he says. The US national average for attendance is 92%. The rate of change since the whole technology program was put into place has Adam now fielding regular phone calls from school districts around the country (as well as large universities in the US Navy) asking for advice about how to get their own programs up and running.