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R-1 officials hope Smart Spot is a smart choice for students

Posted on Tuesday, December 12, 2017 at 1:04 pm

A device being tested by the R-1 School District could allow students in remote parts of the district to connect to the Internet to do their schoolwork.

The use of technology by Gasconade County R-1 students is about to take a big leap forward — if a new piece of equipment proves effective throughout the sprawling district.
The introduction of Smart Spot to Missouri means Gasconade County R-1 and other area districts are the on the cutting edge of the latest technological developments.
Indeed, a pair of Smart Spot devices now are being tested by faculty members in various parts of the district to see if they are effective.
A produce of Verizon and AT&T, Smarl Spot is connected to a computer and provides Internet connection by way of cellular telephone towers.
In some of the more remote parts of the district, areas with limited cell-phone access, it’s unclear whether Smart Spot will work. More testing is planned, according to R-1 Superintendent Tracey Hankins.
The Sullivan School District also is testing the devices, Hankins said.
The Springfield School District has incorporated Smart Spot into its technology program.
Also, in conjunction with Smart Spot, the district is considering Hot Spot, a device that essentially provides Wi-Fi service. Hankins said Hot Spot could be applied to a bus or buses, enabling students who have long rides in the morning and afternoons to do homework while on the bus.
Also, if it works out that Hot Spot is successful in the more remote portions of the district, she said, a driver could take the bus home and students come to the bus to connect to the Internet and do their work. “Some school districts are parking those buses at specific locations,” she said.
The administrator explained that initial plans call for 10 devices to be purchased and made available for check-out in the school library. The first-year cost is about $3,700 for 10 devices, she said.
Again, she said, it depends on whether the devices will be effective throughout the district.
The district also will be contacting parents to determine if a need for the device exists. Surveys will be going out to parents in the near future, Hankins said.
“If there’s a need, we would start small. We could always expand later if there is a need.”
Hankins pointed out that Smart Spot is equipped with the same safeguards as the digital devices used by the students on campus. “It’s filtered just like it’s filtered here,” she said.
The availability of the devices — just now being unveiled widely in Missouri — offers a promising option for parents of students living in areas of the district now without access to the Internet. Hankins said if Smart Spot proves effective in those areas, it will make the district’s decision to increase use of technology in learning all the more meaningful.