RWU Magazine - Fall 2013 / Issue #9 - page 20

RWU {Fall 2013}
18
Mission Critical
technology-oriented global economy,”
Gabriel explains. The initiative, he says, will
provide wireless access to more than 350
public, state and charter schools in more than
50 districts – approximately 140,000 students.
Classroom technology is an area in which
Rhode Island schools have historically
suffered. As of 2011, Gabriel notes, fewer than
25 percent of classrooms had adequate
wireless internet access, and student access to
online resources through labs and portable
laptop carts covered fewer than seven percent
of Rhode Island students.
“Our goal is to see that each individual
school’s unique situation will be considered
when designing the wireless solution,” Gabriel
says, explaining that wealthier districts are
unlikely to require infrastructure upgrades,
but towns in dire financial straits may need to
start from the cables up.
“Placing new access points on decaying
infrastructure is pointless,” Gabriel says.
“Suddenly that easy, inexpensive job becomes
exactly the opposite, and the schools are so far
behind that they can’t afford to cover the cost
of all the work that is now necessary. These
are the areas where we
can really help.”
Deborah Gist, Rhode Island’s commissioner
for elementary and secondary education,
believes that state residents will welcome
this innovation:
“If we are to prepare students for success, it
is obvious that our schools are out of date and
that our schools must change in dramatic
ways,” Gist says. “One step in transforming
our education is ensuring that all schools in
our state are ready to embrace and use
technology. Our Wireless Classroom Initiative
is our first major statewide campaign to
prepare every school in Rhode Island for
21st-century technology.”
Elaine Beebe
F
ew
college undergraduates
are
experts
in
managing
a
personal
checking
account
, let
alone a $20 million state education grant.
Suffice it to say, Jonathan Gabriel ’14 is not a
typical undergrad.
A security assurance studies major and
manager of the Forensics and Networking
Security Lab at Roger Williams, Gabriel also
serves as project coordinator for Rhode
Island’s Wireless Classroom Initiative,
which by 2017 will ensure that statewide,
all classrooms will have equal access to the
tools and resources necessary for 21st
century learning.
“With wireless in every classroom, every
Rhode Island student will be able to access
opportunities for digital learning: virtual
classrooms, online instruction and
communication, interactive instruction,
instructional gaming, blended learning,
online assessments and many other elements
of modern learning that will prepare students
for success in this rapidly changing,
From the Cables Up: Wireless Classroom Initiative
to Increase Information Access in Rhode Island Schools
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