updated 06:00 pm EDT, Tue March 19, 2013
Will complement existing notebook coverage for middle schools
The small suburban village of Barrington IL, just northwest of Chicago, has approved a plan to equip all of its high school students with MacBook Air models over the course of the next school year. After researching other options, a committee of teachers and administrators recommended the Air as the best option for the intended age group. Though the board has not yet finalized the funding required, it gave its approval to the request and said it would find the money for the initiative, which will cover some 600 students.
A similar and already-implemented program for middle-school students keeps the computers and tablets at the school, but the new proposal for the high school students would let them take the MacBook Air home with them for continuous access. The middle-school computer and tablet project, currently only for seventh- and eighth-graders, is to be expanded to include sixth-graders as well in the next school year.
The plan was developed out of a general recognition that students now get the majority of their information online, and that traditional textbooks lack the interactivity and engagement level needed for effective learning. The MacBook Air was felt to be an optimal way to prepare students for life after high school, and by providing the units to students, it would eliminate any class or economic distinctions in learning opportunity.
Another advantage of computers over traditional materials was the students' ability to highlight or take notes directly on the devices, rather than defacing expensive textbooks. Board members expressed concerns about the costs and the nature of technology to evolve quickly, but said they support the Digital Age Learning initiative and would come up with a funding plan.