A computer for every OPRF student?

Administration, board discuss accessibility

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By Terry Dean

Staff reporter

Just what would it take to get a computer in front of every student at Oak Park and River Forest High School?

That's something the administration is exploring. Right now, OPRF has one computer for every three students — primarily in computer labs, according to Mike Carioscio, the high school's chief information officer. The goal, he says, would be to get to a "one-to-one" model.

Some of OPRF's peer school districts have either already achieved that or are heading down that road, Carioscio said.Plans to follow suit, he added, are very preliminary right now. Carioscio and the District 200 Board of Education discussed the topic at the board's technology committee meeting on Aug. 13. Carioscio was looking to gauge the board's interest in pursuing the one-to-one model. Board members had some questions about potential costs and how that model would work for OPRF.

Admittedly, Carioscio said some of those questions couldn't be answered now because more research is needed. He did note that OPRF's feeder districts, 97 and 90, are moving toward the one-to-one model.

D90 two years ago approved iPads for its eighth-graders. That pilot program, according to D90 school officials, was successful. Seventh-graders there have since received the devices.

D97 kindergarteners have been using iPads since 2011. Starting this fall, they will be distributed to third- and fourth-grade classrooms. The availability of technology in the feeder districts is another reason behind OPRF's interest in the one-to-one model, Carioscio explained.

"I've had a number of parents talk to me about what we have when they come to high school. And my answer to date has been that we have labs and we have computer carts that we can use," he said. "There is pressure there. I'm not saying that's a reason to go ahead and do it. I just want to recognize that's a real pressure we feel as the recipient of all these students that have received this technology."

For some D200 board members, pursuing the one-to-one model is a high priority — for others, not so much.

Sharon Patchak-Layman said the high school needs to do more research about the costs. OPRF students have some access to technology already, she noted.

"I don't feel we're at a disadvantage from what the other districts are doing," Patchak-Layman said. "It's not as if we are devoid of having computer access in our rooms. So having everyone walk around with computer in hand — I don't know. I don't think we've done enough research and I don't know how classrooms would use them."

Board President John Phelan, however, stressed it would be a mistake not to pursue the one-to-one model.

"I don't know what the world is going to look like six years from now, but if we don't start planning for it and start living in it, we're going to be even less prepared to jump on it at that time. So to me, it's definitely a priority to get this done and get it done as soon as possible," Phelan said.

After hearing mostly positive feedback from the board, Carioscio said he'll look further into potential costs and how this could benefit the high school.

Reader Comments

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OP Transplant  

Posted: August 26th, 2013 1:05 PM

As if theft were not a big enough problem at the HS, let's make sure everyone is carrying one more expensive electronic device. The mind boggles at the lack of forethought.

Done from Oak Park  

Posted: August 26th, 2013 12:31 PM

"And that may be just the data that can be collected while children are in school. With some school districts purchasing laptop computers or tablets for each student, the data collection can continue at home." NOW WE KNOW WHY THE DISTRICT WILL BE PURCHASING IPADS. It is because of the monitoring that will take place to meet the Common Core standards. I'd be curious to know how these privacy questions would be answered by the board at the next meeting Sept. 10 if asked.

Uncommon Sense  

Posted: August 26th, 2013 12:30 PM

OPR#545, it just feels goods to say OPRF high school bought every kid a laptop. Of course, at the end of this boondoggle when there is still an educational gap, everyone is going to be looking for some other excuse as to why despite kids having great teachers, computers, cell phones, free lunch, and everything else they still can't read or do basic math.

OP Resident # 545 from Oak Park  

Posted: August 26th, 2013 12:20 PM

A thought that came to me as I wrote was, iPads could be used in place of textbooks...if that's the case, fine. Again, my question is what exactly is the board trying to accomplish? I'm not implying anything sinister (at least not yet :)) but just looking for clarity if there is any at this stage of discussion.

OP Resident # 545 from Oak Park  

Posted: August 26th, 2013 12:16 PM

For the record, I'm the parent of a current OPRF student. He has a smartphone, & a Mac laptop at home. Does the board want to provide my student with a new device, at taxpayer expense? If so, why? If the real issue at play here is getting technology into the hands of students whose parents haven't already provided these tools at home, then say so. OPRF does not need, IMHO, to buy technology for every student. What's is really going on here?

OP Resident # 545 from Oak Park  

Posted: August 26th, 2013 12:12 PM

OK, let's hold on a minute here. 1st, what exactly does the board mean by a "computer"? Do they mean laptops, iPads, or smartphones? It's likely that today a large % of the student population already has at least a smartphone, many already own laptops or iPad devices. A little research in the form of a parental survey might show that OPRF is pretty near 1-to-1 right now. 2nd, what exactly are they trying to accomplish with this? What is the educational mission? Spell it out in specifics.

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