Palatine-Schaumburg High School District 211 will issue iPads to every student and teacher at its seven schools in August after a gradual buildup and self-analysis of its "One-to-One" technology program over the past two school years.
After hearing a report on the program's success Thursday, school board members voted unanimously to start a three-year lease with Apple to buy 6,380 more iPads in addition to the 7,000 the district already owns.
The new lease requires three annual payments of $1.03 million. The district has two more payments to make of $1.1 million each for the original 7,000 iPads.
Director of Educational Technology Lynn Swanson, who came to the district last summer from Barrington Unit District 220, said the aim is to prepare students with the technology skills they'll inevitably need in college and their future jobs.
"They're growing up with this technology but don't necessarily know how to use it effectively," Swanson said. "College teachers or your bosses aren't going to take the time to teach you how to use this technology."
There's a major misconception in general society that all school-aged people are born experts in the use of technology, she said.
The program was rolled out gradually, allowing the district to build up its infrastructure and follow the progress of teachers who applied to take an earlier start in using the iPads in their classes.
"One teacher said this program is truly fueling excitement for learning," Swanson said.
While most educators are recognizing the importance of teaching technology skills to students, not all students or school districts have the same resources, she said.
"It used to be more about bringing your own device," Swanson said. "A lot has to be said about students having all the same devices."
District 220, Swanson's former district, also will expand its distribution of devices to students and teachers this year.
All Barrington High School students and teachers will receive MacBook Air laptops. Seventh- and eighth-graders will continue to use HP netbook computers, while students in the third through sixth grades will have their own iPads. And students in kindergarten through second grade will have iPads to share in their classrooms.
Swanson said there's no there's no major difference in preparedness of students from District 211's elementary feeder districts, but individual differences among all students must be addressed.
While districts are spending more of their budgets on technology, there are likely savings in other traditional areas, Swanson said.
For instance, District 211 is using less paper and toner as teachers and students make presentations and share their work electronically, she said.