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Article updated: 8/30/2013 12:56 PM

Mundelein high to give all students laptops in 2014

By Russell Lissau

Mundelein High School officials plan to give every student a laptop computer at the start of the 2014-15 term.

The effort, which calls for some 2,150 students to receive Chromebook computers, is among a growing number of so-called "1:1 initiatives" that provide a publicly funded laptop or tablet to every student in a school.

"Digitizing learning is part of the preparation for their future success," Mundelein High Superintendent Jody Ware told the Daily Herald in an email. "Today's learner is able to access information very easily when provided the appropriate learning tools."

Giving every teen a computer encourages student engagement and allows for "meaningful learning to take place," Ware said.

Before designing their own program, an administrative team from Mundelein High visited other suburban high schools with 1:1 initiatives and participated in workshops about implementation.

The Chromebooks' long battery life, full-sized keyboards and quick startup procedures were positive points, too, Ware said.

Chromebooks, which primarily use Web-based applications rather than installed software, are generally less expensive than traditional laptops and the popular Apple iPads, too. Mundelein High's will cost about $280 each, including a storage case, Ware said.

The Chromebooks also are compatible with the needs of the Common Core assessments that will begin in 2015, Ware said.

Officials created a small test program this year to begin the process. It calls for about 250 Chromebooks to be given to students.

"We will roll out the initiative for the entire student body (next year)," Ware said.

In an unusual twist, Mundelein High will offer a tech-support internship program once the 1:1 initiative is under way. Trading class credit for students' technical knowledge, it's inspired by a program in Leyden High School District 212, Ware said.

"We believe that students will have a positive reaction to this course offering and (the) technology training opportunity," Ware said.

Relatively few suburban school districts have created 1:1 programs.

Gurnee Elementary District 56 launched one with iPads last year.

Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire rolled out a 1:1 initiative with iPads for hundreds of its students last year. By the end of the 2014-15 term, every Stevenson High student will have a tablet.

Schools in Carol Stream, the Palatine area and the Schaumburg area have similar efforts.

Carmel Catholic High School in Mundelein launched the same kind of program with Lenovo ThinkPad tablets in 2012.

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