KANSAS CITY — Some of the North Kansas City school buses that are outfitted for longer trips will also soon be wired with Wi-Fi access.
The district will begin wiring four school buses used for longer trips with industrial grade Wi-Fi in January, The Kansas City Star reported. The service will be available on buses used for trips such as those taken by band members and sports teams.
The cost is about $700 per bus for the equipment and $50 in monthly Internet access charges.
"We are living in a digital age," said Eric Sipes, information technology executive director for the district. "We are at that point where we have to embrace it."
The first use will be by students who make the 50-minute round trip daily to a career center in Platte County.
Lon Waterman, assistant director of transportation, said he plans to provide access to the district's Internet service so students can research assignments or prepare for standardized tests.
While the district first considered Wi-Fi on buses a few years ago, the effort got an extra push when North Kansas City Superintendent Todd White issued a challenge to Sipes and his staff more than a year ago.
White asked Sipes to determine what direction the district should be heading to keep up with technology. The result is a goal of ensuring that every student, from kindergartener to high school senior, will eventually be linked with a laptop, iPad or some sort of personal technology device at the district's expense.
Educators nationwide are managing a shift in how students learn, including what they expect from teachers, said Ray Daniels, co-chairman of the Mayors' Bistate Innovation Team and a former superintendent of the Kansas City, Kan., Public Schools.
Daniels said when students first began bringing their cellphones and laptops into classrooms, most school districts told them to turn off the devices and pay attention. Now, districts are asking students to log on to those devices.
"You will never replace the good teacher," he said. "But technology is going to play a bigger and bigger role."