Joliet Township High School to Expand Laptop Program

Next year, all freshmen and sophomores will have laptops as will select upperclassmen.

Joliet Township High School District 204 Officials have a goal in mind. By the school year 2014-2015, all the students at the two campuses will have laptops.

Currently, the members of the freshmen class at both Joliet West High School and Joliet Central High School operate on laptops. In fact, when implementing the next step of the laptop program - also known as the 1:1 initiative - the machines that are currently used by freshmen students will continue to be used by freshmen.

"We're going to leave the devices that we currently have with the freshmen with the next class of freshmen," Karen Harkin, Director of Information Technology Services at Joliet Township High School said.

The curriculum installed on the laptops is already freshmen curriculum and officials believe that choice will make for a smoother transition.

Freshmen students, who will be sophomores next year, will work on new machines. The district is looking into options of what kind of computers they will lease for the next phase of the program. To that end, they are hosting a 1:1 showcase in January. The district will invite community members and representative from other schools so they can share their experiences with the program and gather feedback. An exact date has yet to be named.

In the meantime, Harkin said there has been some feedback about the existing machines. Criticisms have come in the form of size and speed of the machine and, although Harkin has not heard so in an official capacity, machine battery life is also a concern.

"The size, I have heard that (comment)," Harkin said. "We would love to get a full laptop with the tablet functionality."

But Harkin said that is often a little outside the district's price range. 

"The only other thing I can say I have heard in an official capacity is speed," she said.

As far as battery life, Harkin said that if the students charge the machines, the battery will last throughout the day.

"That will become an issue over time," she said.

Currently the school leases the laptops for three years.

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