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Monday, February 15, 2010

Turn School Buses into Libraries with Wi-Fi!

Hey, bus driver! Want to keep those kids quiet? Install Wi-Fi:

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....


  1. Cory, there is WAY more to life than being plugged into a computer 24/7. Instead of giving kids one more opportunity to avoid real life social interaction, maybe we could allow them to live in the moment...in the real world.

  2. As a former school bus driver in Colorado I say that anyone who disagrees with this has never been a school bus driver!!! Nothing is more distracting and unsafe than driving through a mountain pass with kids jumping from seat to seat!!! Sure, you can tell them to sit down a hundred times but it does no good and school bus drivers are powerless to do anything about it other than keep telling them to sit down. Gone are the days where the school bus driver was an extension of your parents and could actually discipline a rowdy student (personal experience). I think anything to keep them sitting down and somewhat quiet is a great idea!!!

    David Bice


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