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posted: 4/18/2014 5:30 AM

Libertyville school to issue laptops to students in fall

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A Libertyville parochial school is the latest to launch a program that equips students with personal laptop computers.

Starting this fall, all sixth- through eighth-grade students at St. Joseph Catholic School will be given Chromebook computers.

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About 155 computers are expected to be handed out, said Kelly McMahon, the school's technology coordinator. All will have protective covers.

The effort is one of a growing number of so-called "1:1 initiatives" that provide laptop or tablet computers to every student in a school.

Public and private schools in Gurnee, Lincolnshire, Mundelein, Palatine, Schaumburg and other suburbs have similar efforts.

Such programs are important as educators "work to teach digital literacy skills, such as communication and collaboration," McMahon said.

Chromebooks are commonly chosen for 1:1 educational programs. Whereas traditional laptop computers require software to be installed on individual machines, Chromebooks use an app system and cloud-based software.

That keeps support costs down, McMahon said.

"They're just a really affordable, easy-to-maintain option," she said.

At public schools, the programs are funded by the district, although students often are charged annual technology fees to help cover the cost.

At private schools, students' families typically shoulder the cost.

St. Joseph will lease its computers and accessories, at a cost of about $350 per device, McMahon said. Students' families will pay an annual $125 fee to participate.

Officials haven't decided if they'll let families purchase the computers after the leases conclude, McMahon said.

Teachers are preparing for the Chromebooks' arrival with training sessions and visits to schools that have similar programs. Training will continue this summer.

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