Community High School District 128 educators choose their words carefully when discussing the initiative to place a portable computer in the hands of every student at Libertyville and Vernon Hills high schools by the start of the 2015-16 school year.
Officials prefer the comprehensive term "Digital Learning Strategy" to terms like "1:1", as other school districts have ended up with egg on their Facebook pages, after the hardware arrived, but the learning didn't necessarily follow.
Rita Fischer, the assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, who is helping implement the district technology initiative, said she's seen the districts "who rushed into the 1:1 and began handing out devices before they were ready."
District 128 officials say preparations began in earnest in 2009, with staff becoming familiar with Google Apps for Education, and computer hardware being added to classrooms, usually on mobile carts.
By fall of 2011, all district teachers, staff and students were accessing Google Apps. Students and staff at the two high schools were using "Google Apps exclusively for connecting, collaborating and communicating through a web-based, digital system that was accessible from any device, (at) any time," said Mary Todoric, the district's director of communications.
The next technology step will be in place at the high schools this fall, with Wi-Fi and beefed up bandwidth capacity in place for all students to go online on personal devices, and utilize the district's digital curriculum.
The district technology department has spent the last three years upgrading its backbone infrastructure at the two campuses to ensure a robust Wi-Fi presence, Todoric said, adding that the district has acquired about 1,900 Google Chromebooks for classroom use.
"From my perspective the district has done this really well, making sure all the groundwork has been laid before we made the decision to put a device in the hands of every student," said Fischer. "And our teachers are well prepared to teach this technology."
Fischer said LHS science teacher Ray Albin and VHHS assistant principal Joe O'Brien "have both been leaders in technology integration in the district since the inception of this strategy".
In 2013, Vernon Hills High School ranked 94th nationally for STEM education - math, science, engineering and technology education - by U.S. News and World Report. VHHS and Lake Forest High School were among seven high schools in Illinois to make the top 100 in the publication's rankings.