WiFi for Sale
6/29/2012 By: Kyle Berger
The Alvarado ISD in Texas had a challenge: getting the community connected.
The district comprises 3,400 students on six campuses spread across almost
100 square miles. About 75% of these students come from economically
disadvantaged households. This community not only has difficulty meeting the
cost associated with acquiring service, but some families are so rural, they don’t
even have the physical ability to get service at home. With students being issued
laptop devices, the district knew it had to find a way to get students connected
outside of the school building.
The Solution: C.L.I.C.K.
The school worked with the community to develop community-based Internet hot
spots that would allow anyone to gain access to the Internet and AISD resources for
free. The result? C.L.I.C.K — Community Located Internet Connected Kiosks.
The program began with five community kiosks, which are located in restaurants, retail
stores, grocery stores, and anywhere there is an electrical outlet. They feature:
• Dual display
• Fully functioning PC with Internet access
• Broadband Internet hotspot
• District branding
Each kiosk displays the district colors and logos and includes advertising to generate
revenue. Below the ads is a fully functioning PC that provides access to all district
Advertising on school-related items is not without its critics, but the district felt that the
benefits outweighed any negatives. The kiosks allow multiple companies to advertise, and
include access to an advertiser’s Web site and location mapping. Advertisers pay a monthly
fee to display on all units. Businesses hosting the kiosks saw an increase in customer traffic
and in the time customers spent at their location. And, the partnership between AISD and
the community provides a great opportunity to promote the district’s work.
The biggest perk? The revenue generated from these ads allows the community
free wireless Internet access for customers 24/7. Community members can do
anything from the kiosks that you can do online; they provide Internet access to
both students and their families.
The community kiosk program has been in place for more than two years in Alvarado,
thanks to the support of advertising and sponsorship. The community has embraced
the program and the feedback from parents and students has been tremendous. The
positive impact of connecting the community to the Internet was not a surprise--but
the number of requests from business and other locations for kiosk units was.
One of the most interesting requests for a kiosk came from a local judge who asked
the district to place a kiosk at the courthouse. The judge wanted to make this wifi
access point available so parents could access information about their children, such
as attendance or other issues . There would be no excuses for not knowing about their
child’s school activities: the kiosk made this information readily available.
Thanks to revenue gained from advertising, the program now has the possibility of
expanding to other kiosk-based wifi access points in other areas of the city. I will
take this program with me as I move from Alvarado ISD to my new job at Cedar
Hill ISD. We will roll out five units within the next month, and plans for more are
Connecting the community and the school district is a win-win for everyone and the
community kiosks program achieves just that.
Kyle Berger has over 12 years of K12 IT leadership experience and has been recognized
for his work in advancement of student technology and one to one initiatives as well as
bring your own device environments. Kyle is currently the Executive Director of Cedar
Hill ISD located in North Texas. Kyle.firstname.lastname@example.org