McDonalds as Study Hall for the Web Deprived
2012 was arguably the year when education came of age on the web, with a series of projects launching that provided free education to the masses like never before. From Khan Academy to MOOCs to Duolingo. If you wanted to learn new things, there were a host of opportunities to do so for free. Of course, the one catch is that you need a web connection in order to access these veritable riches.
The Wall Street Journal reveal that this continues to be a problem for many in America, with an unlikely savior. It reveals how an increasing number of children are turning to their local McDonalds restaurant to access the web resources they need for their school work.
Despite an ever increasing array of devices that let us access the web, the cost of access still prohibits many from logging on at home.
Roughly a third of households with income of less than $30,000 a year and teens living at home still don't have broadband access there, according to the Pew Research Center.
"It is increasingly hard to argue that out-of-school access doesn't matter," said Doug Levin, executive director of a national group of state education technology directors. "There's a degree of frustration about the speed with which we're moving."
McDonalds have 12,000 Wi-Fi equipped locations across America, with Starbucks adding another 7,000. Combined they provide greater access to the Internet than the 15,000 Wi-Fi enabled public libraries in America.
With many public libraries closed by 6pm, children are turning to their local McDonalds for help.
Once a week, librarian Mary LaValle meets a friend at the nearby McDonald's after work. She says she often sees the same teenagers sharing laptops at the restaurant that use the computers at her library. Usually, the kids will only buy a drink, and the free refills keep them going all night, she says.Continued on the next page