Laptops for all Warren High students
All students at Warren Township High School in Gurnee will receive laptop computers when the 2015-16 academic season begins, school officials announced.
Warren District 121 will become the latest suburban school system to have what education insiders call a "1-to-1" initiative, representing the computer-student ratio. Officials said 4,300 or so pupils each will be equipped with a Dell Chromebook, which was preferred over more expensive Apple iPad tablets based on student and teacher feedback from test programs.
Assistant Superintendent of Business Services and Operations Carol Rogers said Friday about $1 million was budgeted to purchase the Chromebooks. She said the devices will be loaned to the pupils, who would have an option to pay $25 annually for insurance.
District 121 school board President John Anderson said officials are looking to the future by providing the laptop computers to all students.
"We know that using technology is how everything works these days," Anderson said, "and we need to prepare our students for the future. We have been working toward this direction for a few years and now it is time to launch the program."
Officials said the portable, lightweight wireless laptops will allow for use of electronic textbooks and other reading material. They said communication between teachers and students is expected to improve through an easier electronic exchange of information, instructions and assignments.
Students and teachers in Warren's test programs found Chromebooks have full-sized keyboards -- unlike the iPad -- and were preferred for writing when compared to the Apple product, Rogers said. Another plus is the Chromebook costs about $250, compared to at least $500 for an iPad, she said.
While Chromebooks are manufactured by Dell and several other companies, all use Google's Chrome operating system. Rogers said applications and other resources from Google for Education will be used.
"Google has really expanded their education offering," she said.
District 121's director of educational technology, Rico D'Amore, said the Chromebooks will be given to the students when school starts in August. D'Amore said a "digital citizenship program" will provide the teenagers with information they need to communicate and collaborate safely and responsibly online.
Warren pupils also will be guided about appropriate online behavior and using technology for productivity with the school-owned devices.
Rogers said plans call for students to run Chromebook help desks at the O'Plaine Road freshmen-sophomore campus and the Almond Road building for juniors and seniors.
Libertyville-Vernon Hills Area High School District 128 is supposed to give mobile computers to every student in 2015-16. All 2,110 Mundelein High pupils received Chromebooks before the last academic year.