Innovation in Garfield County – School-Based LTE Broadband for Students at Home?
Will a new push for free wireless internet help rural students get online? Pending FCC rule change could help close the ‘homework gap’
by CHRIS BERDIK, November 12, 2018
PANGUITCH, Utah — Both before and after classes at Panguitch High School, a low-slung brick building nestled in the high desert of southern Utah, students find their way to Shawn Caine’s classroom. They settle in at the computers where Caine teaches coding and software, such as Illustrator and Photoshop, or they head to the back room for the 3-D printer, vinyl cutter and robotics kits.
Some kids come to log extra time on class projects. Others show up just for the internet. Caine oversees the school’s Chromebooks. Her district of Garfield County has provided a computer to every student since 2016. And yet, reliable broadband is far from guaranteed in this region of towering plateaus, sagebrush valleys and steep canyons.
Like much of rural America, Garfield County is on the wrong side of the “homework gap” — a stubborn disparity in at-home broadband that hinders millions of students’ access to the array of online learning, collaboration and research tools that are enjoyed by their better-connected peers. Many of Garfield’s students trek to internet oases such as Caine’s classroom or one of the local businesses willing to host a district Wi-Fi router.
Going without isn’t an option. “All their work is on that computer,” said Caine, “and they need that access.”…
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