The school bus has always been considered an extension of the classroom. Now Service de transport de Wellington-Dufferin Student Transportation Services (STWDSTS) and the Wellington Catholic District School Board are taking student transportation to the next level with a pilot project that offers free Internet access on select school buses.
In February 2017, three school buses serving St. James Catholic High School in Guelph, Ontario were equipped with mobile Wi-Fi with controls for safety. In September, three more buses were added to the program bringing the total number of students served to 120.
TELUS, in partnership with Colony Networks and STWDSTS, created a fully secured mobile Wi-Fi solution custom-configured for students featuring content filtering and bandwidth restrictions, while providing access to a virtual learning environment. Mobile Wi-Fi is integrated with and delivered through BusPlanner GPS software from Georef Systems Ltd.
Innovative use of travel time
STWDSTS and the Board are investing in Wi-Fi to give bus students – some of whom travel as long as 90 minutes each way - additional opportunities to maximize learning time during their commute.
It is about providing time management tools and equity of access to all students. “We’re giving them Internet access that they may not have at home to do research, study for a test, connect with friends and their parents, or listen to music,” says Wendy Dobson, General Manager of Wellington-Dufferin Student Transportation Services.
Empowering students to remain safe online
A chief concern in implementing the school bus Wi-Fi has been the online safety of students. “TELUS and Colony Networks worked directly with STWDSTS and Georef Systems to design a solution that not only fits within the Board’s technical requirements, but also ensures a safe user experience,” says Ken Duncan, Director of Sales, TELUS Business.
School bus Wi-Fi has the same Internet usage policies and provides access to approved digital education tools to deliver age-appropriate content for students, while minimizing security risks for the Board.
For TELUS, the school bus Wi-Fi project naturally aligns with our commitment to empowering Canadians to keep themselves, their family members, especially youth, and communities safer online with a dedicated program called TELUS Wise.
The pilot Wi-Fi program will run until June 2018 at which time, STWDSTS and the Board will interview students, bus drivers, teachers and parents to determine the tangible benefits, and gain feedback and suggestions.
Meanwhile, other school boards are already considering a similar strategy. STWDSTS has been fielding enquiries from provincial consortiums and TELUS has received numerous requests for additional school bus Wi-Fi devices.
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