Barrington High School seeks laptop infusion
A member of the media checks out an 11-inch MacBook Air at a preview for the Apple Store in 2010 in Chicago. The new lightweight laptops feature all-flash storage, a multi-touch trackpad and extended battery life.
Updated: April 22, 2013 10:14AM
BARRINGTON — During a presentation last week at the District 220 Board of Education meeting, a committee of teachers and administrators outlined a plan to use MacBook Air laptops to infuse technology into classrooms.
The initiative, referred to as Digital Age Learning, calls for 600 MacBooks to be provided to Barrington High School students during the 2013-14 school year.
Cindy Jaskowiak, assistant superintendant for educational programs and assessment, has led the committee. She explained that teachers would apply for the Digital Age Learning support for select classes. Students in those courses would then receive a MacBook they could use 24 hours a day.
“We’ve been researching this on an ongoing basis,” Jaskowiak told School Board members during the March 13 meeting. “We think that a MacBook Air provides our students with the widest range of technological applications.”
Noting that MacBook Airs are lightweight and user-friendly, Jaskowiak said the effort is similar to other technology initiatives that districts are implementing nationwide.
Station and Prairie middle schools have already adopted a similar one-to-one program using personal computers in seventh- and eighth-grade classrooms. The middle schools also have plans to expand the program to sixth grade next year.
Jaskowiak noted that the difference between the two programs is that the high school students would be allowed to take the devices home with them.
“They would really be, on a small scale, testing it out,” Jaskowiak said.
The School Board responded favorably of the plan, despite expressing financial concerns.
“We have to move forward,” Board member Timothy Hull said. “We’ll have to find a way to fund it, one way or the other.”
Joseph Ruffolo also expressed concerns about finances, and the fact that desired technology is constantly changing. He added, however, that the MacBook rollout could be an optimal way to prepare students for life beyond high school.
“We need to keep our eye on the endgame,” he said.
The Digital Concept course, which is set for further discussion during future Board meetings, stems partially from the realization that textbooks are no longer a primary source of information.
Teachers told School Board members that text archives and similar materials exist online and are more easily accessible with devices like the MacBook Air. The laptops also allow students to highlight text and take notes on the devices.
Like his colleagues, School Board president Brian Battle said he is supports the plan amid important financial considerations.
“We need to be saying that we have a plan, but the plan is subject to lots of variables,” Battle said.