Better Connections for Leander Students
By Era Sundar
The Leander school district will spend more than $1.5 million this summer to double Wi-Fi capacity in its schools, possibly changing the way students and teachers interact in the classroom.
Students are learning in new ways today. When looking for answers to questions, many of them just Google it — sometimes on their smartphones or tablets. So the Leander ISD is working to keep up with educational technology.
“This is how the students learn,” said Pam Waggoner, president of the Leander school board. “This is what engages them. This is what excites them. Therefore, we need to make the technology available so our teachers and students can use this in the classrooms.”
Waggoner says the student handbook restricts the use of smartphones and similar devices, but those rules came well before cellphones became miniature computers. Waggoner says it’s time to use them for academic good.
For now the district will have a “use ’em if you got ’em” policy in place, as long as the teacher wants to use smartphones as part of classroom instruction. And Waggoner says the district will work toward making sure students have equal access.
The district has been planning for these changes for quite some time, said district spokeswoman Veronica Sopher.
“We are a fast growth district; we’re actually the second fastest growing district of 20,000 or more in the state of Texas,” Sopher said. “So anytime you have growth you have to build upon your infrastructure.”
So when students use their wireless devices to access the Internet in school this fall, their experience will be upgraded. For one thing, service will be faster. Also, they will be able to log in as regular users, rather than as visitors.
These changes won’t only affect middle and high school students. The wireless equipment being replaced in secondary schools will be moved to the district’s elementary schools to improve access there, too.