Officials with the Aspirnaut Program estimate that about 200 students in Arkansas now ride buses that can provide educational content. The program began in 2007 in the Sheridan School District, where students were given laptops and iPods for their commutes on a school bus equipped with wireless internet access. (See “Students ride emerging trend: Bus-based connectivity.”)

So far, Hector officials have noticed one definite difference: The bus rides are a lot quieter.

Bus driver Kenny Bull picks up his first student at 6:42 a.m. each day and has all 50 students dropped off at the school by 8 a.m. He’s used to writing up students for bad behavior on the lengthy bus rides, but since the video screens were introduced, he hasn’t had to reprimand anyone for acting out.

Younger students really get into the programs, he said, although the math and science content hasn’t entirely caught on with high-school students, who are allowed to use their cell phones on the bus.

“They like their iPods and mp3 players better,” Bull said.