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.
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.
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 afford to not offer the popular program. They discovered the Digital Wish donation program and Mobile Beacon’s unlimited 4G LTE service for $10/month. The district is now saving over 75% with Mobile Beacon’s service and the Digital Wish hotspot program. “If it weren’t for Digital Wish and Mobile Beacon we could not have continued the program because those kinds of funds just aren’t available,” said Sheila Bowman, Executive Director of Innovative Learning, “You have allowed us to continue our program.”
Looking to start a hotspot lending program at your school? The partnership between Mobile Beacon and Digital Wish provides affordable solutions. Please visit Mobile Beacon’s Digital Wish donation program to learn more.