By Anne Byers, Nebraska Information Technology Commission
Lincoln Public Schools (LPS) Board of Education is addressing the need for expanded evening access to the internet for students through a pilot Wi-Fi hotspot lending program at Southeast High School. The program will soon expand to Northeast High School.
“I’m glad that LPS thought ahead about students who don’t have home access,” said Jean Hellwege, school librarian at Southeast High School.
Fifty devices are available for student checkout. When a teacher or counselor notices a student doesn’t have home Internet access, they tell the student about the program. Students then fill out a form from their counselor. Once approved by the principal, a responsible use agreement is sent home with the student for parents to sign. Students can then check out a hotspot from the school media center.
Mary Reiman, director of library media services at LPS, explained that “relationship building is a key” to identifying students who need additional access to the Internet.
LPS evaluated hot spot devices, looking for a product that offered device management and smart filters. Only District Chromebooks can use the hotspot. Multiple computers can connect to one device so siblings or groups of students can also use the same hotspot. The devices provide the same filtering as LPS web filtering.
Seventeen of the devices are currently checked out.
The program is a collaboration of the Board of Education, Library Media Services, Computing Services and Business Affairs and was spearheaded by Kirk Langer, chief technology officer; Mary Reiman, the director of library media services; Dr. Jane Stavem, associate superintendent for instruction; Dr. Liz Standish, associate superintendent for business affairs; Tim Hahn, education technology specialist; Brent Toalson, principal of Southeast High School; and Jean Hellwege, school librarian at Southeast High School.
What advice would Hellwege give to another school about starting a similar program?
“Meet and plan how to identify the students who need them and how to get the devices into their hands,” said Hellwege. “For us, the media center was the logical place.”