DCSS Receives $400k Donation for Personal Wifi Devices

Staff Report From Albany CEO

Monday, October 17th, 2016

Officials with Sabal Trail Transmission made a $400,000 donation today to the Dougherty County School System meant to help bridge the digital divide that some students within the system face when trying to use electronic learning devices at home.

The donation will allow the system to purchase personal wifi hotspots which will be used by students whose families don’t have Internet access at home. Up until now, these students have been at educational disadvantage by not being able to fully utilize features of tablets or laptops provided to them by the system’s 1-to-1 Technology Initiative.

Sabal Trail officials made the investment after learning of the program and hearing the challenges that some students face when trying to accomplish certain homework or projects that require Internet-based resources.

During the 2014-15 school year, the DCSS began implementation of a 1-to-1 Technology Initiative, meaning one student, one device, with the goal of supplying each DCSS K-12 student with a personal computing device.  The first phase of the 1:1 Initiative was completed during the 2015-16 school year, during which all students in grades K-5 received a Dell Venue 11 tablet and all students in grades 6-12 received a Dell Latitude 11 laptop. 

Students in grades 3-12 are allowed to take the devices home, as a way to extend the learning day beyond the normal school hours, if needed.  Unfortunately, a number of DCSS students do not have internet access at home and although the devices can be used while offline, the level of effectiveness is reduced if access to the internet is not available, as many of the instructional support products used by the DCSS require internet access.  

To bridge the Digital Divide, the DCSS will provide its neediest students with Internet access away from school through a company named Kajeet.  Kajeet offers hotspots with security protections that provide internet access compliant with the Child Internet Protection Act.  Using Kajeet hotspots would allow the DCSS to provide internet access to a large number of its neediest students, thereby increasing the effectiveness of the 1:1 devices when used at home.