- Low-income students in the La Joya Independent School District have increased access to educational technology by using a custom-made mobile tech lab, District Administration reports.
- The mobile tech lab, which costs more than $364,000, offers access to 12 laptops, 12 iPads, virtual reality stations, and makerspace tables, including 3-D printers.
- The lab, which also offers internet access, rotates between the neighborhoods surrounding schools in this high-poverty area, parking in neighborhood hubs such as grocery store parking lots.
Educational technology is now a mainstay in schools and teachers are encouraged to create assignments which require access to computers and the internet. However, many students in low-income families don't have reliable access to the internet or depend on free Wi-Fi to get their work done. This creates another layer of inequity for students to overcome as they move through school and prepare for the future.
Creative solutions such as this mobile tech lab help breach this divide. However, it remains to be seen whether this lab will become a target of crime as it is parked in these low-income areas. If the concept is successful, it may provide another solution to a problem which the Office of Educational Technology sees as a major concern.
Other solutions to the problem of tech inequity are already in place and may be possibilities for school districts to consider. Some school districts are extending Wi-Fi connections to public housing units, while others are offering Wi-Fi on the bus ride home. Some companies are working on solutions as well. Sprint’s “The 1 million project” is seeking to provide Internet connections to one million high school students in their homes. And a growing number of grants are making computers more widely available. Though the issue of tech equity is likely to linger, there are creative solutions out there to help level the playing field.