From Mashable, information about Maine schools and six reasons why it matters:
When students at Skowhegan Area Middle School decided to undertake a study of the town’s history, they departed from traditional readings and paper writing. They instead made podcasts about historical landmarks that cumulatively produced a walking tour, recorded interviews with town elders and created websites for local farmers. Like the 225 other middle schools in Maine, every seventh and eighth grade student has been provided with a laptop computer, making projects like these accessible.
“It’s just a part of how we do business now, and in some ways we’re starting to take it for granted,” explains Michael Muir, who helped design the leadership development program for the initiative that brought one-to-one computing to Maine. “It’s very exciting because it’s now a part of the culture of teaching middle school in Maine … that all the kids have laptops and you teach with technology, and it’s exciting because it’s no longer the new thing.”
In 2002, the state of Maine signed a $37 million contract with Apple that provided laptops to 33,000 middle school students and 3,000 teachers. The contract was extended in 2006 and expanded in 2009 to include some high schools. All seventh graders, all eighth graders, and students at 55% of Maine’s high schools are currently issued laptops. At the launch of the initiative, the state made no apologies about how it had chosen to spend its one-time state surplus.
“The challenge is familiar, but the imperative is new: we must prepare young people to thrive in a world that doesn’t exist yet, to grapple with problems and construct new knowledge which is barely visible to us today,” reads the the 2001 request for proposal.
It’s been about 10 years since Maine implemented its initiative, and while at least 33 states had experimented with one-to-one computing projects by 2007, none have reached the scope of Maine’s project. As jobs and life increasingly involve computers, it’s clear that in order to remain relevant to students, schools will need to adopt more technology. Here are six lessons about doing so successfully, taken from Maine’s initiative.