Google puts Wi-Fi on rural school buses, calls them Rolling Study Halls

Google has gone public with one of its lesser-known pilot programs focused on education — and we’re not just talking about Chromebooks.

Lilyn Hester, head of the company’s external affairs in the southeastern US, penned a post on The Keyword blog today announcing the expansion of its Rolling Study Halls pilot. It’s a program that originally launched in 2016 in the Caldwell County school district of North Carolina.

It’s a hilly, rural region that necessitates shuttling kids on long, winding journeys to and from school every weekday. Students don’t necessarily have the best internet connection to come home to, making assignments all the more harder to complete in 2018. Google — with the help of education broadband provider Kajeet and networking nonprofit CoSN — was able to carve out more productivity in what would otherwise be idle time by linking up 11 school buses with Wi-Fi.

“The effects were immediate—almost too immediate for some bus drivers who were shocked (and a little confused) when their commutes became so quiet,” Hester wrote. “Students were engaged. They were learning. And after a few months, there were more real results: School officials saw students do better in school. It was working.”

The program expanded to Berkeley County, South Carolina (just north of Charleston) and analysis done by the College of Charleston found that digital literacy and homework completion went up and that teachers were more willing to add digital elements to their curriculum.

With today’s announcement, the Deer Trail School District in the eastern Colorado prairie land will be the next to get Rolling Study Halls. 16 more districts will soon be able to take advantage of these upgrades.

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Jules Wang
Jules Wang is News Editor for Pocketnow and one of the hosts of the Pocketnow Weekly Podcast. He came onto the team in 2014 as an intern editing and producing videos and the podcast while he was studying journalism at Emerson College. He graduated the year after and entered into his current position at Pocketnow, full-time.