Students endure hundreds of hours on yellow buses each year getting to and from school in this desert exurb of Tucson, and stir-crazy teenagers break the monotony by teasing, texting, flirting, shouting, climbing (over seats) and sometimes punching (seats or seatmates).
But on this chilly morning, as bus No. 92 rolls down a mountain highway just before dawn, high school students are quiet, typing on laptops.
Morning routines have been like this since the fall, when school officials mounted a mobile Internet router to bus No. 92’s sheet-metal frame, enabling students to surf the Web. The students call it the Internet Bus, and what began as a high-tech experiment has had an old-fashioned — and unexpected — result. Wi-Fi access has transformed what was often a boisterous bus ride into a rolling study hall, and behavioral problems have virtually disappeared.
“It’s made a big difference,” said J. J. Johnson, the bus’s driver. “Boys aren’t hitting each other, girls are busy, and there’s not so much jumping around” [Sam Dillon, "Wi-Fi Turns Rowdy Bus into Rolling Study Hall," New York Times, 2010.02.11].
Wow! For a $200 router and a $60 monthly fee, we can turn our buses into effective extensions of the classroom. I know some debaters (and coaches!) who would go absolutely ape for an innovation like this. Think of all the disads you could write on the drive from Aberdeen to Yankton....