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Program helps provide student web access at home - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Program helps provide student web access at home

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BURLINGTON, Vt. -

Orchard School student Graeham Spitellie says he uses the Internet to enhance his studies.
"A lot of the time at home I use the Internet to figure out some questions that I've had throughout the school day and my life at home and I look up the question on Google or any type of website like Wikipedia," Spitellie said.

His classmate, Kenny Chamberlain, says he gets help with math online. "It helps, like sometimes I get really stuck on a problem and I want to figure out a way I could do it, but it wouldn't give me the answer by learning the way -- I would have to use the way to get the answer for the problem," he said.

Administrators at Orchard tell say the Internet and learning go hand-in-hand in technologically advanced times. Teacher/Librarian Donna Sullivan-Macdonald uses the Internet to distribute learning materials to students, like useful web pages for research. "I think it's vital, having Internet access today is crucial for our young learners because there is so much information that is out there," she said.

Using computers and Ipads is a daily activity in many local classrooms. Third grade students were using instructional apps on an Ipad in one classroom Wednesday. Although students have access to the Internet at school, educators say it's very important they have access at home in order to be successful with their studies.

But not all Vermont kids can go online at home. Congressman Peter Welch and Comcast highlighted the need to connect more families to the Internet and discussed efforts to bridge the digital divide in Vermont at the Boys and Girls Club of Burlington on Wednesday.

Comcast re-launched the Internet Essentials program, where qualifying families can receive Internet access for a discounted rate of $9.95 per month and be able to purchase an Internet ready computer for less than $150.

Welch emphasized the basic tasks that kids do that require them to get online. "How to fill out a job application, how to take an online course, how to look up information so you can learn the things that you want to learn," Welch said.

Kenny Chamberlain agrees that not having Internet access at home would be tough.
"I think it would be harder, unless if their parents had access to the Internet at their work or something. They could probably ask their parents to check it, but then they would only get their information like the next day," Chamberlain said.

There is an application process to qualify for Internet Essentials, but if your child's school has 70 percent of students enrolled in the free and reduced price meal program, they can enroll automatically.

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