Two Seymour educators hope their efforts to locate, map and promote sites with free Wi-Fi service will encourage more widespread availability and use of wireless Internet for students and the community.
Seymour High School teacher Bob Sexton and Seymour Middle School teacher Curt Schleibaum have identified 16 free Wi-Fi locations available in the city. The hot spots include access for students at eight Seymour Community Schools buildings, several restaurants along U.S. 50, the Jackson County Public Library and the Boys and Girls Club of Seymour.
The map also includes restricted or secured Wi-Fi connections, which require a password to use, and unprotected Wi-Fi hot spots, which should be used with caution and never to convey personal information. Each type of connection is represented with a different colored marker on the online map.
Sexton and Schleibaum, who both teach technology and engineering classes, said educational access was their primary reason for starting the Seymour Free Wi-Fi site at seyfreewifi.com, which allows the public to add known hot spots.
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All Seymour Community Schools students in Grades 6 through 12 now receive Chromebook laptop computers as part of the school system’s 1:1 technology initiative. The devices are used for homework, research and communicating with teachers.
“A student made an excuse that he couldn’t do homework because of lack of Internet,” Sexton said. “I am trying to remove that excuse.”
Schleibaum said as the world continues to use and depend on wireless technology, such as laptops, tablets and smartphones, for education, communication, entertainment and to conduct business, there always will be a need for Internet access.
“I look at it like we had to find a typewriter or computer to type our papers back in the day,” he said. “This generation has to find access to the Internet.”
He created the map because he also had students who didn’t know where to go for Internet access.
“Since we are 1:1, it’s kind of important for them to know where they can go,” Schleibaum said.
Both teachers agree that increased free Wi-Fi throughout the community, especially downtown, would make the city more attractive to businesses and residents.
“I would like to see more downtown businesses and the chamber get on board,” Sexton said. “Personally, we would like to see the city of Seymour create free Wi-Fi throughout the business districts of the city.”
But there is a monthly cost for those who provide public Wi-Fi access. Costs vary depending on the carrier and plan.
Although she lives in Brownstown, Tammie Craig-Niewedde said she supports the idea of more public Internet access in all communities.
“Internet access is a necessity these days, and some who need it to be able to apply for jobs and such cannot afford it,” she said. “Since the library isn’t always open, and since it could actually be fairly affordable, I think it’s a great idea.”
Seymour Free Wi-Fi is not a plan or official proposal, but it does start a conversation, Sexton said.
“We’re just two teachers who have created a website to show students there is Wi-Fi out there if you need it,” he said.
Julia Aker, director of the Jackson County Public Library, said a significant number of people who visit the library are there specifically for Wi-Fi access. She also said she believes that more Wi-Fi hot spots could be enticing to businesses.
“If our community had more Wi-Fi hot spots, it could be a recruiting tool for businesses and prospective employees and residents,” she said. “There are surely grants out there to help pay for it.”
In some areas, mainly larger cities, municipal-owned Internet networks have gained popularity, making many public meeting places, such as parks, Wi-Fi hot spots.
Some people, however, don’t believe Wi-Fi should be a city-funded service because it is so widely available at public places like McDonald’s, which is open 24 hours.
“I’m not sure anyone owes us free Wi-Fi,” Seymour resident Cindy Galbraith said. “With that said, there are quite a number of places who do offer it, and I have been known to visit these establishments for the use of their Wi-Fi. My go-to place has been Taco Bell.”
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Visit seyfreewifi.com to locate and add free Wi-Fi hot spots in Seymour to an online map created by Seymour Middle School teacher Curt Schleibaum.
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“I look at it like we had to find a typewriter or computer to type our papers back in the day. This generation has to find access to the Internet.”
Seymour Middle School teacher Curt Schleibaum on the ongoing need for free Wi-Fi access in Seymour