Cox, Motorola Wi Fi a Calif. School


Up to 60 sixth-grade students in Lemon Grove, Calif., will be able to access school assignments from home on a computerized desktop tablet, thanks to a wireless fidelity project launched in their district this year enabled by donors including Cox Communications Inc.'s San Diego system and Motorola Inc.

Each child in the 30,000-resident eastern San Diego suburb received a thin-client tablet that runs Microsoft Windows The tablets are linked into Cox's broadband plant via Motorola's SBG1000 wireless cable-modem gateways.

This is Cox San Diego's only current Wi Fi application.

The Lemon Grove School District already uses extensive technology as part of an initiative launched in 1997.

The community is characterized as low income, as demonstrated by the fact that 69% of students qualify for government-funded free lunch programs, according to information from the district.

In an effort to bridge the digital divide, the district launched LemonLINK six years ago. The school system solicited support from regional businesses, noting that Lemon Grove students do not have access to computers or the Internet at home.

Through the program, the school installed computers and broadband connections at its eight schools. Cox provided hardwire connections to the schools at that time.

"The district had a notion to make technology more portable, so they talked to us about bringing the hardware ratio down to one to one," or one computer for each student, said Ed Lopez, Cox's manager of government and community relations.

The cable company brought in Motorola to provide the gateways; the San Diego Office of Education and the Classroom of the Future Foundation acquired other hardware.

Gateways were installed in students' homes at the beginning of the school year, creating a virtual private network with access to the district's resources, as well as the programs and files the children use in class each day.

"We're hoping and thinking down the road to pursue this application with other school districts," said Lopez. "First we want to understand if the technology has a positive impact on student achievement."