“This week’s story came to us via an e-mail that asked us to catch up on the Maine’s One-to-One Laptop Program. The program began in January of 2002 when Maine signed a four-year, $37.2 million contract with Apple Computer, Inc., to provide iBook laptops to every seventh and eight grade student, and their teachers, in the state. In 2006, the contract is up and the state must decide whether to keep the program or not,” Giselle Goodman reports for The Portland Press Herald. “With 38,000 laptops in circulation at 243 schools, one reader asked this: ‘So. . . how are they doing nearly four years later? How many laptops have been lost? Stolen? Broken?'”
Here are some numbers:
• Computers lost and or stolen during since the project was implemented in 2002, statewide: 100
• Rate, across the state, of laptops that have been damaged since 2002: 3.3 percent.
(Information provided by the Maine State Department of Education and King Middle School)
Goodman reports, “One of the many concerns over Maine’s One-to-One Laptop Program is the cost of rough treatment. Many who opposed the idea said that 12- and 13- year olds would cause too much damage to the computers to make it worth the money spent. Have they?”
Goodman reports, “The critics were right and just as predicted, seventh- and eighth-graders in Maine are using their state-issued laptops for games and for entertainment, not just tests and homework assignments. Here is a sampling of how: During study hall, eighth-grader Sariah Abaroa, 13, of Arundel goes to http://www.coolmath.com, where she plays numbers games. Last year, Kayla Cogle, then a seventh-grader and first-time laptop carrier, joined a group that followed election results online during lunch… As for 12-year-old Ella Ross, a seventh-grader at the Middle School of the Kennebunks, she already has plans for her laptop when she has free time in school. ‘I like to write stories,’ she said. ‘I like to write futuristic stories a lot and stories about different worlds and stuff. They usually involve a dog of some sort.'”
Goodman reports, “These tales of laptop use are something to consider as Maine’s One-to-One Laptop Program draws to a close. The $37.2 million program, which started in January 2002 under the wing of then Gov. Angus King, ends in early 2006. That means the 37,000 iBook laptops in the states’ middle schools today (seventh- and eight-graders have 34,000 of them, their teachers have 3,000) are supposed to go back to Apple Computer Inc. at the end of the school year. Some cheer the end of this era. Others – including some parents, kids, teachers and policymakers – aren’t ready to see them go. ‘It will be like being crippled,’ said Cogle, now 13, now laptop proficient… Dugan Slovenski, a mother of three boys from Brunswick isn’t sure [about Maine’s One-to-One Laptop Program]. ‘For the amount of money (spent) there should be a definite measurable change,’ she said.”
Full article here.
MacDailyNews Take: Just because you can’t measure change with whatever measurement tools you have at hand, doesn’t mean change hasn’t occurred. In Maine’s case, a very positive change indeed. Explaining to some people why one-to-one laptop programs in schools are a tremendous gift to children is like trying to explain to a Windows-only user why the Mac is better: they have nothing other than the Windows experience, so they can’t appreciate the degree of positive change or recognize and appreciate the subtle differences unless they try the Mac themselves. In both cases, such people also usually don’t seem to possess much ability to see beyond initial price tags. So, you’ll have to trust us. Maine’s iBook program should be renewed for the good of the students and, if you only use Windows now and take our advice to switch to Mac today, you’ll be thanking us profusely within two weeks.