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Glenbard schools may deploy iPads in all freshman courses next fall

Published: Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2013 1:23 p.m. CDT

Glenbard high school students in freshman core courses next fall may be universally using iPads in class, as the school district continues to implement its instructional technology plan.

After beginning an iPad pilot program last school year in a few classrooms at each school and approving a "Bring Your Own Technology" policy this year, Glenbard Township High School District 87 is considering a more widespread technology rollout to bring the district closer to its goal of 1-to-1 student deployment.

"In short, we have a conviction after two years of pilots at all four schools and six different site visits to districts further along in this work than we are that, one, students will learn more at a faster pace, and two, students will be able to take on learning work and create learning products that were previously inconceivable," said Jeff Feucht, assistant superintendent for educational services.

The program would allow students in freshman core classes to rent an iPad from the district or potentially bring one from home.

The program will require an investment by District 87 of $500,000 to $600,000 per year. However, there will be opportunities for cost savings through the end of the current pilot program, as well as a reduction of laptops, desktops and paper products across the district, said Chris McClain, assistant superintendent for business services.

By the program's fourth year, when students at all grade levels would be part of the 1-to-1 deployment, other annual expenditures are expected to decrease by at least $300,000, resulting in a net investment by D-87 of $200,000 to $300,000 per year, McClain said.

Students would pay a fee to rent the iPad, similar to the current textbook fee.

The 12-month iPad rental fee would total $189, which includes mandatory insurance. An additional $85 fee would cover digital curriculum and applications, bringing the total cost to $274.

This is $79 more than the textbook rental fee, which totals $125 and requires an additional $70 to pay for novels and workbooks.

If students also require a textbook that is not available digitally for a class, they would not have to pay an additional textbook fee, McClain said. Older students enrolled in a freshman class would only pay the technology fee.

District staff have proposed using iPads for the program based on their prevalence among school districts and students and their ability to fulfill most of the items on D-87's wish list, including approved use for standardized tests, options for users with special needs and access to necessary applications.

At a D-87 Board of Education meeting Nov. 4, board members heard from teachers involved in the iPad pilot about the benefits they recognized in their students through the use of technology in class, such as increased productivity.

Part of a proposed student orientation for the ninth grade rollout would include discussing digital citizenship with students, who would receive device and application training as well.

All D-87 teachers will complete preliminary device training by the end of this semester, said Robert Lang, the district's director of instructional technology.

Ninth grade teachers will then receive targeted training specific to their needs in relation to next fall's proposed iPad program, Lang said.

The board is expected to take action regarding the program at its Nov. 18 meeting.

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