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updated: 5/5/2014 4:06 PM

District 103 officials considering iPads for more students

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Lincolnshire-Prairie View Elementary District 103 officials are considering expanding a test program that puts laptop or tablet computers into more students' hands.

The effort is called a "1:1 initiative," because students would have their own computers. If the program expands, students would be asked to rent the computers or bring their own from home.

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

When the initiatives call for tablets, Apple's iPads often get the nod. Google Chromebooks are commonly chosen as laptops for these programs because, like iPads, they use an app system and cloud-based software.

District 103 has three schools: Sprague School is for kindergartners through second graders; Half Day School is for third- and fourth-graders; and Wright Junior High serves fifth- through eighth-graders.

District 103 launched its pilot program this school year for about 225 students in the second, third, fourth, sixth and seventh grades.

It uses iPads and iPad Mini tablets and Chromebook laptops provided by the district -- and it's been a hit.

"Our teachers have found that the use of Chromebooks and iPads allows students to have more control over their learning and to learn content in a more self-directed manner," District 103 spokeswoman Kim Sylvan said in an email to the Daily Herald.

"They have also observed an expansion of collaboration among students and teachers in our schools as well as opportunities to engage with other students and classrooms around the globe," Sylvan added.

A committee of teachers and administrators studying the program has suggested students be assigned individual iPads, and carts of Chromebooks be available for certain projects involving software available only on those devices.

If approved by the District 103 board, the program would expand during the next two years.

According to a memo from Technology Director Mark Westhoff and Assistant Superintendent Katie Reynolds, this fall:

• More iPads would be made available for kindergarten classrooms, although not at a 1-to-1 ratio.

• Students in two first-grade classrooms would get their own tablets.

• Two additional second-grade classrooms would begin 1:1 programs.

• All fourth-, fifth- and sixth-grade students would get tablets.

In fall 2015:

• All third- through eighth-grade classrooms would have 1:1 programs.

• Tech usage would expand for kindergartners, first-graders and second graders.

• Chromebook carts would continue to be available for students at Half Day and Wright schools.

A District 103 survey indicated many parents were interested in sending their kids to school with family-owned iPads. A rental program would be created for other students.

Families unable to afford a $100 annual rental fee or supply their children with iPads would get tablets from the district after a verification process, according to the memo.

Officials haven't yet determined if the students now in the pilot program will have to rent or buy tablets, or if they can keep the computers they were given for this year.

The District 103 board will discuss the proposal Tuesday during a committee-of-the-whole meeting. The session is set for 7 p.m. at Wright Junior High, 1370 N. Riverwoods Road, Lincolnshire.

The board could approve the plan as soon as May 20.

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