Marion, Illinois, high school launches school-wide e-learning initiative

School starts in few weeks, and students at one local district will be moving into a new building and getting their hands on some new learning tools.

For years English teacher Laura Saunders asked students to put pen to paper, but now she’s having them pick up their Chromebooks.

"It's exciting because the kids can work on a paper project or collaborate with other students on some sort of a project, and I can be included on that with Google and actually see their progress," Sanders said.

Sanders will be able to give students like Parth Patel instant feedback and hands on instruction, without disrupting class.

"It's really helpful because, like, on the Internet there are always things saying 'This is high school. What are we going to use in life?'” Patel said. “This is one of those things we can actually use. For the most part, this is a really seamless transition."

Patel was one of a dozen students selected to help with the transition and introduce teachers like Rick McCall to new technology.

"It's not just the teachers passing the information along to the students, but the students have become a part of that learning,” McCall said. “The roles are almost starting to reverse, where they're helping us continue that teaching and passing that education along."

As the first school in southern Illinois to give every student a tablet, Marion hopes to serve as an e-learning example to other districts.

The cost for Marion High School to lease 1200 Chromebook is about $100,000 a year.

If a student loses or damages their Chromebook there is a $300 replacement fee, but low-cost insurance is available for parents to buy.

Because not all students have Internet access at home, the school is partnering with local businesses to become designated hot spots for students to turn in their homework using Wi-Fi.

Right now McDonalds, Heartland Regional Medical Center, and the Marion City Square have volunteered to be student-friendly hot spots.

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