Carmel Updates Radio Show
Carmel Catholic's 1:1 Tablet Initiative
October 24, 2012By Jane Hilliard of Carmel Catholic High School
New technology transforms Carmel Catholic High School
Alexia Kaminski and her Carmel Catholic High School classmates work on their new tablet computers Aug. 24. Carmel implemented the new technology this year, supplying each student with the laptop. | Darrell Harmon~for Sun-Times Media
MUNDELEIN — Earlier this school year, Carmel Catholic High School’s Peter Kolb realized he’d forgotten his Latin book in his locker.
Instead of the embarrassment that could have ensued, Kolb turned to his new computer tablet that the school had given him this year. Fortunately for him, he was able to look up part of his Latin book online and join in the class discussion.
“As a student, I can say we love (the tablets),” said the 17-year-old senior from Libertyville. “They are a lot of fun, and it’s a great way to learn. It’s paper reduction and that’s good for the environment, and it’s a lot easier to deal with.”
At the start of the school year, the private high school in Mundelein handed out more than 1,300 new Lenovo ThinkPad Tablets to the entire student body. Students are able to access the Internet and take notes in class with their new computers.
So far, the reaction from kids and teachers has been overwhelmingly positive, school administrators reported.
“I saw in the first three days that it has transformed the school,” Carmel principal Lynne Strutzel said. “The kids are more engaged and more absorbed with their classes. You can tell when you walk by the classroom.”
Suzanne Huntemann, who teaches chemistry and biology at Carmel, said she believes her job has been a lot easier since the arrival of the mobile computers.
In Huntemann’s classrooms, students have used the tablets to watch 15-minute educational videos and take online quizzes, which score the answers for her.
“Because I teach science, it’s really important to teach with videos and animation,” Huntemann said.
Administrators decided to allow students to use the tablets as if they were their own, said Jane Hilliard, Carmel’s associate principal of technology integration.
That means students can download personal applications and put their information on the tablets as they would if they had bought the tablets themselves, Hilliard said.
She explained that the tablets weren’t purchased to just help students with their subjects but also to engage them in new technology that they might not be familiar with.
“We wanted a sense of ownership,” Hilliard said. “It promotes more care for the unit. We want this tablet to be important to them.”
But that doesn’t mean students must use the tablets. Nothing has been mandated, Hilliard said.
“We didn’t want this to be a negative experience for some students,” Hilliard explained. “But so far I haven’t heard one negative comment. All I keep hearing is that they think they are awesome.”
Before school administrators moved forward with the new technology initiative, they gave out a variety of laptops and tablets to four students in each grade to gauge what they liked best, Hilliard said.
Students preferred the $1,300 laptops, but the cheaper tablets were a close second, she said.
Carmel ultimately bought 1,400 computer tablets — about 1,360 for the students and about 40 extras — retailing at $380 each. The school’s 90 teachers received more high-tech laptops, costing about $1,300 each.
Tuition this year did not increase because of the tablets, principal Strutzel said. Tuition typically increases between $300 and $400 per year, and that was the case this year, she said.
Carmel’s 2012 enrollment is more than 1,350 students, coming from Lake, McHenry, Kenosha and Cook counties.