4 Your Mission is a blog from Mobile Beacon that helps you – a nonprofit – achieve your mission by bringing you up-to-date info and tips that you can really use.
Tech Term of the Week
Electronic Resources Management (ERM)
Systems developed to assist librarians in the control of licensed third-party resources published electronically (databases,e-books, e-journals, etc.), including license management, renewal, legal use, access management, and collection development.
The Hillsboro Independent School District serves a diverse student population in the heart of rural Texas. After instituting a one-to-one technology program at the local high school for all freshmen through junior students, teachers began to realize that not everyone had internet access at home. To prevent any student from falling behind, Hillsboro High School developed a solution. A hotspot lending library was created for students to bring the internet home by checking out mobile hotspots. To help implement they turned to Mobile Beacon’s donation program with Digital Wish.
Hillsboro Hotspot Lending Program
Each day students without home internet access are able to check out a hotspot to complete their homework, access their Google classroom, browse the web and communicate with friends. The high school currently has 20 devices available for checkout with usually between 16 and 18 devices loaned daily. The school requires that students complete a digital citizenship course to learn about how to use the internet appropriately before they check out a device, and only students without home internet access are eligible.
“Our kids love having the devices,” said Jo Hayes, a Hillsboro High School administrator. “The feedback [from the students] is that they are just very grateful they have the internet at home. The hotspots help students do their work and they can be a normal teenager.”
A few departments at the high school have hotspots that they use for afterschool activities. The athletic department, for example, takes the hotspots on the bus when they have to travel for games for students to complete their homework. Up to 10 Wi-Fi enabled devices can connect to one hotspot so a few hotspots can handle a bus load of students.
The Hillsboro Independent School District also provides Mobile Beacon hotspots for their teachers at the elementary school. The rural district struggles with reliable access to the internet, and many teachers experience unreliable internet at home. They are able to bring the hotspots home to review homework assignments and complete lesson plans.
Mobile Beacon hotspot
Providing and utilizing hotspots is not a new concept to the Hillsboro Independent School District. Prior to discovering the Mobile Beacon donation program with Digital Wish, the school was paying $566 a month for only 14 devices, which was grant funded. As the grant period was coming to an end the district realized they could not afford to keep the hotspots, but also couldn’t
FCC Commisioner Jessica Rosenworcel was a featured speaker at SETDA’s event for her work closing the homework gap.
Earlier this month, Mobile Beacon joined our friends at the State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA) in Washington, DC to educate our lawmakers about why it’s so important to ensure our schools, kids and communities are able to connect to fast and reliable internet service.
At the Capitol Hill briefing, we heard from FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel that today, seven in ten teachers assign homework that requires Internet access. But according to data from the FCC, one in three households does not have broadband service.
It is amazing what a group of committed and passionate people can do! At the end of last year, Mobile Beacon finally had the ability to transition our community of school, library, and nonprofit users to Sprint’s 4G LTE network. With only 90 days before Sprint’s WiMAX network was permanently shut down, our small staff of nine began the huge task of ensuring every single client who relied on us for Internet access had the opportunity to make the move to LTE.
Having worked on digital inclusion programs for the last six years, it’s hard to contain our excitement about the huge leaps forward that have occurred in the first three months of 2016. It seems like we’re finally beyond the “It’s 20XX, doesn’t everyone have access to technology?” and “Isn’t Internet access like cable, great to have, but not necessary?” discussions. We’re now on to large-scale, national programs that are making real progress to close the digital divide in America.
Last week, on the eve of the WiMAX shutdown in the Twin Cities, Mobile Beacon was on site in St. Paul with our partner, PCs for People (PCP), to help remaining low-income Twin Cities residents get online with our new 4G LTE service. It was a busy day right from the start. Before PCs for People’s doors opened at 10 am, 22 people were lined up outside. Some had driven more than 40 miles to get there, others had arrived two hours early to be among the first to get their new devices.
(BOSTON) January 29, 2016 – A Massachusetts state court today granted a joint motion to extend a preliminary injunction that temporarily saved Internet access to 1,820 nonprofits, 429 schools, and 61 libraries across the country. The motion was made by six nonprofit organizations who provide broadband access to more than 300,000 vulnerable Americans and Sprint Spectrum LP, though the telecommunications company remains a defendant in ongoing legal action with the nonprofits.
This holiday season, we’re feeling extremely grateful for the support of our customers and excited for the new year to come. It was a particularly challenging year with many unknowns about the future state of our service with Sprint. With your help, a court order, and a lot of tenacity from the Mobile Beacon team, we are moving forward getting all of our current customers transitioned to Sprint’s LTE service.
The clock on the 90-day injunction stopping Sprint from cutting Internet access is ticking. And even with the courts stepping in to stop Sprint from shutting off the Internet, Sprint is dragging its heels and filing appeal after appeal.
Acknowledging “it is critical that the Internet continues to be an affordable tool for those working toward a better life,” Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) urged FCC Chairman Thomas Wheeler to closely monitor Sprint’s WiMAX shutdown in a letter dated Nov. 20, 2015.
This just in: In an another attempt to subvert the orders of Massachusetts Superior Court Judge Janet Sanders, for sale Sprint asked an appeals court to suspend her decision and force the nonprofits that run Mobile Citizen and Mobile Beacon to pony up a $65 million bond despite her ruling that this was excessive and unnecessary. But just like Judge Sanders did, the appellate court firmly rejected Sprint’s requests, dismissing them before we even submitted our papers.
(PHILADELPHIA) November 17, 2015 – A group of Philadelphia residents took to the streets today in front of a downtown Sprint store to protest the Sprint Corporation’s continued effort to shut off broadband access to more than 300,000 vulnerable Americans – including at least 10,000 Philadelphians.
(PHILADELPHIA) November 16, 2015 – A group of Philadelphia residents will protest the Sprint Corporation’s continued effort to shut off broadband access to more than 300,000 vulnerable Americans, including at least 10,000 Philadelphians, with a protest Tuesday at noon in front of a downtown Sprint store.
There is a clear need among non-profit organizations, libraries, schools and other community institutions for a national broadband adoption advocacy organization. Three federal agencies (National Telecommunications and Information Administration [NTIA], Housing and Urban Development [HUD], Federal Communications Commission [FCC]), plus the White House, are focusing significant attention and possibly significant resources on broadband adoption. How significant the resources will be could depend upon strong advocacy by broadband adoption practitioners in non-profit organizations and libraries.