By Amanda Murphy
As part of our back to school series, Connected Nation is showcasing a school in Ohio that is arming its students with the power of technology.
Foxfire Center for Student Success is a public community school within the Maysville School District located in Zanesville, Ohio. The school recently received federal funding from the government’s E-Rate program to extend its classrooms beyond school walls and into the homes of students.
Foxfire will be receiving about 350 netbook computers with Wi-Fi capabilities. According to Lewis Sidwell of the Maysville Local School District, the intermediate school’s 350 fifth through 12th graders will each be equipped with one of the netbook computers.
“We’re hoping the netbooks will allow for online learning, research, homework, and a chance to enhance the students’ learning experience,” said Sidwell. “Many of these students do not have Internet access at home.”
According to Connect Ohio’s 2011 report detailing broadband adoption and technology habits for Muskingum County, which includes the Zanesville area, 62% of residents subscribe to home broadband service. This leaves 38% of residents in the county without access to Internet in their home. Those surveyed indicate the top reasons for not having Internet at home is they do not own a computer (59%), they do not see a need for the Internet (38%), and Internet service is too expensive (27%).
The school has partnered with Sprint to allow for home wireless Internet access for the students through Sprint’s 3G mobile coverage. The devices will also be secured with proper Web filtering functions to block any inappropriate searches or sites.
Having the netbooks and Internet access within the students’ homes allows for greater learning opportunities for not only the students, but their parents and others living in the home.
“I think it will open up a lot of possibilities,” said Sidwell. “We’re hoping this program will allow us to connect with the students, as well as their families.”
Foxfire’s school year begins in early September. Sidwell says he is looking forward to the rollout of this new program and anticipates it will be successful.
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