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Illinois School District To Pilot 1:1 Program

Community Unit School District No. 4 in Mendon, IL will begin moving toward a 1:1 MacBook environment this fall.

The three-year initiative will start with the coming school year when and sophomores at Unity High School are issued MacBooks for use in math and English classes. In the second year, the program will expand throughout the entire high school and all subject areas. Students in grades 7 and 8 at Unity Middle School will receive MacBooks in year three.  Diane Robertson, CUSD #4 superintendent, said the district will also be providing all district teachers with MacBook Pros ahead of the students and expects to provide approximately 100 laptops in each year of the project.

Robertson said that the district is considering different devices for students at Greenfield Elementary School. "In a High School environment the focus shifts to content creation over content consumption and comprehension," Robertson said. "For the High School a full keyboard is needed to that end. Different grades have different needs, so the elementary schools are exploring using tablets and interactive tables in their curriculum."

To pay for the initiative, the district steering committee is applying for grants from corporate education foundations and will reallocate resources to cover the difference.

Robertson said that the cost for the first year of the project, including hardware, software, wireless network, licensing, and professional development, is around $270,000, with cost projections for the second and third years of $70,000 to $80,000.

The district is partnering with Pearson to ease the transition. "We are working with Pearson to customize a professional development plan for all teachers," Robertson said. "Teachers will receive professional development in pedagogical strategies and approaches that leverage technology to increase student learning, understanding and engagement, developing technology rich lessons, incorporating devices into the curriculum, using assessments," and more.

Pearson will also be providing online math and literature programs and integrating PowerSchool/Studio Edition with the district's existing PowerSchool student management system.

According to information released by the company, the upgrade will "create a connected learning environment that aligns existing student data reporting requirements with the new integrated course management system that provides a single source solution for CUSD #4. With data collected through this system, educators can recommend precise content to remediate or accelerate learning, and students can actively take control of their own learning and view their performance progress and achievement."

"This cutting-edge project will truly transform the way our teachers teach and the way our students learn,” said Superintendent Robertson in a prepared statement. “One of the most promising aspects of this initiative is that it levels the playing field for students who do not have access to technology at home."

Community Unit School District No. 4 is a rural district serving approximately 770 students in grades preK through 12.

More information on CUSD #4's 1:1 initiative is available at cusd4.com. More information about Pearson is available at pearson.com.

About the Author

Joshua Bolkan is the multimedia editor for Campus Technology and THE Journal. He can be reached at jbolkan@1105media.com.

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