Prime Time for WikidGRRLs

by Ben Terret/ Flickr

An all too common sight in American schools.                                                                                       by Ben Terrett/ Flickr

The time is ripe for programs such as ours to hit US schools. Just last month, the President gave a new push to his executive plan to wire America’s schools, launched in June of last year, by rallying private sector giants to the cause. President Obama’s goal is to have 99% of K-12 schools connected to the internet within five years. The initiative is called “ConnectED” and the President has already rallied over $750 million in financial support from Apple, AT&T, Verizon, Microsoft and others.

As of November 2013, “only 39 percent of public schools had wireless network access for the whole school,” according to The Atlantic. At issue is not only the wireless access but also its bandwidth speed, as many schools muddle along on bandwidths that are suitable for a single family home but not for 800 kids using the internet all at once. This could not be a better time for programs like our WikidGRRLs program, a ten-hour extracurricular activity that depends on reliable internet and computer access in schools, and enhances student learning as well as more diverse authorship on Wikipedia and other knowledge-based sites.

As schools across the state and across the country receive the technical capacity to offer 1-1 computing and high-speed internet, workshops like WikidGRRLs will be all the easier to implement and all the more beneficial for students. It might be worth while to point out that there is no added cost for a teacher, parent, or interested individual in taking our free and ready-to-use lesson plan package and running with it — provided, of course, that the school you want to teach in has broadband internet.

Thanks to the President’s initiative, which does not increase the deficit in any way since it relies exclusively on private sector funding and innovation, the places where WikidGRRLs can happen in the future will not be only the posh schools with top-notch resources. Our aim is to reach all young women, regardless of socio-economic status, to encourage them to use and share their knowledge and expertise online.

One of the aims of the ConnectED initiative is to improve “the skills of teachers, ensuring that every educator in America receives support and training in using education technology tools that can improve student learning” – and here again, workshops like WikidGRRLs can play an instrumental role. Our teaching package requires no prior knowledge of Wikipedia or Wiki Sites — but after having prepared the lessons and conducted them, you will know much more about educational internet technology than you did before!

References:

1. Cohen, Peter and Livingston, Jeff. Nov 13, 2013. More Than Half of U.S. Public Schools Don’t Have Adequate Wireless Access. The Atlantic.

2. McCain Nelson, Colleen. Feb 4, 2014. Obama’s Internet Plan for Schools Speeds Up. The Wall Street Journal.

3. Slack, Megan. June 6, 2013. What is ConnectED? The White House Blog.

JN

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