Palatine-Schaumburg High School District 211's use of iPads in its curriculum is receiving national exposure through a promotional video on Apple's website.
For their part, District 211 officials are taking the publicity as proof that their teachers' use of technology in the classroom has provided a road map for others to follow.
"It is an embedded part of every class," Mark Kovack, District 211's associate superintendent for student services, said of the one-to-one program in which every student is issued an iPad at the beginning of freshman year.
"I'm pleased by the growing number of teachers who do find an application for it," he added. "It's extremely rewarding that Apple sees us as doing the right thing. It's rewarding to know that our teachers have reached the top and are the cream of the crop."
Kovack said if there was anything about District 211's pre-existing policies that enabled this achievement, it would be its commitment to the professional development of its teachers.
But he's the first to admit that the program initially presented a learning curve for everyone. Identifying and eliminating distractive features from the devices was among the earliest goals.
The video focuses particularly on the analysis District 211 conducted in 2016 on whether to stay with the iPads it had been using for three years or switch to the Chromebooks that were coming on the market at that time.
The district was well aware that changes in technology could mean a new option was better, and the sticker price of the Chromebooks appeared to offer $50 or more in savings per device, Kovack said. District 211 buys about 3,000 new devices each year for incoming freshmen and this year will buy 4,000 as teachers' iPads are due for replacement.
But a review of nearly 50 line items led to a list of pros and cons for both types of device, with the iPad coming on top in almost every category, Kovack said. Even on the issue of price, a savings of about $40 each was identified when considering factors such as repairs and replacement.
Much to his surprise, Kovack's testimony was used as the exclusive voice-over for the video, including on the issue of cost.
"It costs money to run a school, and it's not the school district's money, it's the community's money," Kovack's narration states. "They are entrusting us to make to decisions to help their children maximize their potential.
"This is the way that we do school now," the video concludes.
Representatives of Apple could not be reached for comment Thursday.
District 211 officials said the district received no discount on iPads in exchange for making the video.