A wireless connection to the internet has become a paramount part of our modern lives in the last 2 decades. Not only do we have access to new forms of consumerism and entertainment, but a vast wealth of knowledge from various sources that are more engaging than ever. Videos of professionals in their fields, articles by accredited universities like Princeton and Harvard, and daily news that keeps us informed of the world around us every minute.
Education benefits greatly from access to these resources with students being able to get instant access to new material that can make them better explorers and critical thinkers. Teachers can also be more engaging with their lesson plans through the use of the internet, real world examples can be shown right in the classroom or lecture hall to give students a direct window into what this knowledge can be used for and how it applies to the world as a whole.
As someone who grew up with the internet taking a more pivotal role in the classroom, I have seen the effect of having wi-fi in schools and it makes the options for staff and students broader in addition to making learning and teaching more approachable. At home, it is assumed that you have internet access and you can find all about wi-fi networks on Router Instructions. There are obvious downsides to wi-fi access in schools, but looking at both the micro and macro level, there are more positives than negatives. That doesn’t mean the negatives are meaningless though and they should be addressed appropriately.
Having access to the internet full-time in schools does provide many opportunities for distraction, especially with more students having phones with internet access nowadays. However, becoming more knowledgeable about internet activity and having a shared mindset on how wi-fi should be used (involving both students and staff) should be something more schools should strive for to counteract this issue.
Once schools start approaching internet access with a different mindset, student distraction and related issues should be less prevalent and even if that doesn’t happen soon, wi-fi gives schools too many benefits to end up being ignored. Colleges in particular have embraced wi-fi more and more in recent years and not only make strides to grant access all over campus, but make internet speeds faster, more reliable, and easier to navigate for students.
College students rely on knowledgeable and trustworthy resources so much that limiting access to them in any way severely slows their progress on their research and studies, which is why colleges put wi-fi access as a high priority for their students. For high school students and below, this trend is not as encouraged, but it is rapidly catching up to colleges. More and more resources are going digital and as a result, in-classroom study is becoming more reliant on online digital media.
Textbooks are only occasionally for the off-hand homework assignment and as such students have to turn to wi-fi in their classroom to find study materials. The easier the process of finding these materials becomes, the more the students will be prepared to use those materials in college, where they are already being used frequently. The eruption of social media in the past decade has also created a need for constant wi-fi access, with students using their downtime in school to chat with friends, share online content, and unwind, which makes for a more connected environment for students.
Connections like the ones social media creates for students allows for information to travel rapidly, giving students a view of the outside world that is far wider than ever before. Students learn to form their own opinions from the information they gather, pick and choose their sources or information, and develop a knowledge of the internet itself that many have not yet grasped. Enabling these types of environments to thrive in schools encourages student involvement and to apply the knowledge from their studies in real-world discussions and scenarios. While the benefits to the students are very impactful, wi-fi access in schools also give educators and staff more ways to plan their lessons and adapt to their students both in and out of the classroom. I’ve seen many teachers set up homework help-lines for students in their classrooms where students can send a quick message to their teacher who can respond in turn without having to open up their email and type up an entire letter. This bridges the gap between students and teachers and makes discussions easier for both parties.
Teachers also can set up new ways to deliver content outside the classroom as well with their own websites, youtube channels, and online forums. All of these options give teachers more control of how their material is displayed and where it is displayed. By going to where the students already are with platforms like youtube, facebook, and reddit, teachers can get their students to share it around with their peers and create meaningful discussions. On that note, peer education also gets a boost thanks to wi-fi access in schools with collaboration projects being much easier to plan and execute for students while in and out of the classroom.
Setting up the project by creating a facebook group for it or using an app that can create and share video footage can make group project, and by extension group learning, much easier. The number of uses and platforms teachers and students can access that would help them booth in the classroom and out of it are so massive that there would not be enough space to list them all here.
Suffice to say, wi-fi in schools offers so much benefit that to stick with a more traditional style of schooling in this day and age would be the best way to slow a student’s progress rather than advance it. There are negatives to sort out, as is the case with all new tools that are brought into classrooms, but the fact that so many schools have adopted it in the past few years just shows that it isn’t going away anytime soon and there is a good reason for that.