- School administrators see great potential in utilizing Wi-Fi on school buses, but 87% of them want the ability to filter inappropriate websites, while 81% wanted better information on how data collected on the bus will be used, according to a new survey from Kajeet and School Transportation News.
- School administrators found that the top benefit for such Wi-Fi would be additional time for students to work on school assignments on the way to and from school, particularly if they did not have access to broadband at home. The respondents also said Wi-Fi could lead to less behavioral issues on the bus.
- School bus Wi-Fi is becoming more prevalent throughout the country, with the survey reporting 53% of respondents from the Midwest and Southwest have considered or are considering putting Wi-Fi on school buses.
The desire on the part of administrators to be able to filter what sites students visit could encourage districts to supply more devices for students. While smartphone usage among teens is fairly ubiquitous, that number does decline for laptops. If the intent is to allow students to complete homework en route, it might be necessary to supply more than a smartphone, which will better equip districts with the ability to filter and monitor whether students are properly using the devices.
Supplying devices that could be used on the bus could also help close the digital gap. If a student must BYOD for Wi-Fi bus use and has no device, then the Wi-Fi is not particularly beneficial. The use of Wi-Fi on buses seems to be most prevalent in areas where there may be long travel distances between students’ schools and homes, with the rate of administrators considering Wi-Fi in the Northeast, which contains a fair amount of urban centers, being fairly lower. Northeast administrators should keep in mind that even if the distance traveled by a bus is relatively short, making the allotted time a student could benefit from bus Wi-Fi shorter, that is irrelevant to the question of whether they have digital access at home.