Opportunities and Responsibilities

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel and Chicago Public Schools (CPS) CEO Forrest Claypool announced on October 20, that CPS has received a grant from the Federal Communications Commission of $37.7 million so that all classrooms in all of Chicago have high-speed internet and WiFi.

At a press conference, both Emmanuel and Claypool talk about all the benefits this will bring to students. This universal capability will allow all students to enhance their learning to 21st Century capabilities and the opportunities it provides, starting with the earliest grades of school. Students won’t be limited to computer labs, but can access technology more directly, for example, with virtual field trips, and watching biology lessons come alive. This grant also allows for CPS to implement universally a high school graduation requirement of computer science, ensuring that students have tech savvy for college and beyond.

There’s no doubt that technology is a great equalizer, and by providing this internet technology to all Chicago public schools, the opportunities it facilities will be available to everyone, which is especially a boon to lower-income communities in Chicago, which will no longer be barred from accessing all that the Internet makes available because of fewer resources.

I also wonder if these technology enhancements will lead to CPS having a policy similar to Oak Park Elementary School District 97, where all middle school students have iPad minis for their use in classroom learning. From what I’ve heard about the middle school students’ iPads, they can foster one-on-one learning, which is alluded to in the press release for this announcement from CPS.

There’s no doubt that with all the exciting possibilities, there will have to be sufficient support to address the problems that would plague the Internet, as I’ve heard some students in District 97 note that the iPads have their issues. It would also be important for the curriculum to have components that help students know how to use Internet, and other technologies, responsibly, which will make them well-poised to be responsible citizens in the midst of an increasingly technological 21st Century society.

Chicago Public Schools. (2015.) Mayor Emmanuel, Chicago Public Schools Expand High-Speed Broadband Access to Every Student in Every Classroom. “Chicago Public Schools News and Press Releases.” Retrieved from http://cps.edu/News/Press_releases/Pages/PR1_10_20_2015.aspx