Just west of Chicago, the J.S. Morton school district serves inner city students, many of whom don’t have access to the Internet or connected computers. Before the current school year, the district won a government grant to invest in touchscreen devices and network upgrades to enhance the education experience for its students, 93 percent of whom live below the poverty line. With only three months before the start of school, district leaders sought our team’s expertise to carry out the implementation process within this abbreviated period of time to ensure all went smoothly when the first bell rang.
To successfully distribute more than 1,000 touchscreen devices to its incoming freshmen class across three of the district’s five campuses, J.S. Morton Schools needed to upgrade its outdated network so each campus could handle the influx of students connecting to the Internet at any given moment. Unfortunately, the district’s wireless connections were far slower than typical networks and couldn’t handle the traffic. However, officials didn’t recognize this issue until last minute, challenging the team to revamp their infrastructure during this brief implementation period. On top of our initial promise to upgrade existing connections, we were tasked with replacing their outdated servers and hardware so the district’s infrastructure would not cave under the pressure of increased connectivity.
Ultimately, we were able to connect three of the district’s five main campuses, enabling all incoming students there to connect to the Internet flawlessly upon their arrival in the fall of 2014.
We also established a relationship with their local cable and Internet provider to offer students within the district affordable at-home Internet connectivity so they may continue to use their device effectively and efficiently during this transition from textbooks to digital media.
Over the next three years, J.S. Morton Schools will continue to roll out this program to all incoming freshmen until students at every level with the high school have these touchscreen devices. Until then, upperclassmen will be encouraged to bring their own devices (BYOD), which can seamless connect to this enhanced network, as well. We will also continue to work with district leaders, who plan to keep up with the latest technology and increase their bandwidth so they may consistently strive to provide these low-income students with the tools they need to maintain an advantage within the increasingly competitive world of higher education.