Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Maine's 10-Year Laptop Project Huge Success

Evan Glidden, foreground, and Taylor St. Hilaire, both 13, use a laptop computer to work on a project in the hallway at Auburn Middle School, photo is one of three images in the article:http://ht.ly/56jSM 

Ten years ago, in 2001, Maine legislators approved funding to put laptops into the hands of all 7th and 8th graders and all teachers 7th through 12th grade. Local taxes helped to continue the program for students in the high school grades. Both students and educators 10 years later report the expenditure reaped significant educational benefits. For more information on this state-initiated laptop project, check this article: Ten Years After Laptops Come to Maine Schools, Legislators Say Technology Levels the Playing Field. Note also the article finds that New Hampshire which did not fund such an initiative has seen a reverse effect. What's your response to the article?

Photo from the article at: http://ht.ly/56jSM


Melissa said...

This state wide initiative seems to be contributing the Maine education system. It’s great that students can research, type, and be assessed etc. while using their laptops at their desks, in hallway, or at home. What I like most about this initiative is the fact that now every 7th and 8th grade student in Maine has an equal opportunity when it comes to computer access at home. This gives teachers greater freedom when developing new assignments and assigning homework which requires at home use of a computer. Originally, I was considered about how teachers would monitor the use of social networking sites; however, one man in the article noted that students learn from mistakes and to monitor restrict them from accessing social networking sites would be a disservice due to the fact that they will be accessing the sites while at college or work in the future. I agree with this man’s statement because it is up to the students and their parents to learn how to best manage their time appropriately. Finally, I am curious to know how the middle school math teacher implements daily lessons on the computer that increased standardized test scores. Are there many computer based math programs that could achieve such results?

Chuck said...

Looking at this iniative by Maine shows how investing in technology can pay dividends in the classroom. With this study, it may lead to more schools following this model by providing laptops. There is enough data to show student results and the cost of this program. Both English and math scores rose with students' use of laptops. With the advancement of technology, it will bring the cost of laptops down. Related to this is with the use of Ipads for class as well that can take away the cost of textbooks by viewing digital copies on the Ipad. With the laptops, there needs to be monitoring with school only internet use, but it will be a thin line with social networking involved in the classroom with the increase with cyber bullying. However, this may create and increase the use of class specific blog sites, which teachers could monitor easier.

I feel that students will be getting real life experience, because many jobs require laptop use and is integrating their learning into the next level. There is always going to be new technology every year, so we must stay informed so that we can transfer it into our classrooms.

RyanCleary said...

This program is clearly a huge success in Maine. I think that the greatest success that will come out of this program is the publicity. As some other people mentioned that data clearly shows that the laptops increased achievements for the students. The students not only performed better on assessments but they also improved their communication skills. Emailing people in France or receiving emails from their teachers opened those students up to a world that they will see when they go beyond their middle school and high school experiences. This is a fantastic opportunity for these students and the publicity of how well it went will have an effect on other districts. As neighboring towns hear the news of this success they may be inpired to do the same thing in their own districts. It is as if those students are the ambassadors of technology in their area. The fact that the town paid for the computers in taxes shows the community's committment to technology in education. With the town as a model and the students as spokespeople I think that this idea will become quite contagious.

Johanna said...

I think it's great that teachers in Maine had so much success with this initiative. Since 2001, our public school budgets have become a lot tighter, thus making it more difficult for other districts to mirror this project. I know that in the next 3 years, it's projected that our state standardized tests, the ever-dreaded CMTs, will be administered exclusively on computers. For now, many of our testing modifications for students with IEPs or other recommended test accomodations, are completed on a compter software program on the CMTs called the MIST. If every student in grades 3-5 in an elementary school will be expected to have access to a computer during the limited testing window in March, I wonder where the funding will come from to bring all of these new computers into public schools? Since it will be mandatory, will the state provide funding? Will we get more federal funding? Or will we simply be asked to further stretch our already sparse budgets? I think all 50 states should be looking into the issue of technology accessibilty for all students in the public education system. Aside from the funding dilemma, I really see no downside to working towards the goal of placing a laptop into the hands of all students.

Janet said...

When I read the first few sentences about all 7th and 8th graders getting their own laptops, I initially thought it sounded ridiculous. Then as I read through the rest of the article and really thought about it, I changed my mind wholeheartedly.
The idea of leveling the playing field for all students is very powerful. Students in poorer school districts would now have the same tools available to them as students in more affluent districts. I can imagine that for some students, having their own laptop could actually open up a whole new world for them.
I like how the student commented that having a laptop “made his schoolwork better.” Isn’t that what it’s all about? He talked about that without a laptop he would have to go the library, research books and encyclopedias and write the info down. That might have been an exaggeration, but I can tell you that I grew up doing exactly that for research papers and it is not fun. If there are more efficient, more motivating ways for students to learn then go for it. Laptops might be one way to do just that. It seems to have worked in Maine!

Kelly McLaughlin said...

I think Maine had a great idea and it has paid off for them. Hopefully, the publicity from Maine will encourage and push legislators in other states to begin the same initiative. I think it is important to teach students how to be responsible by giving them such a delicate piece of equipment, but also to manage their time and stay focused. The one student who was struggling in the beginning to manage his school work and social-media networking quickly learned because he was able to see how it negatively affected his grades. This project was funded through tax dollars, which is a great way to use our money, but I don't think that a lot of people would be supportive of the idea in our state. Hopefully, as a country we can come up with a solution to funding a project to this extent to create a better learning environment for our students. It is costly and does give students a feeling of equity on projects.
Like Melissa said, I am interested in knowing how the math teacher used the technology to improve the math scores on standardized testing. It is awesome, but how?

Tim said...

The State of Maine has definitely investing in the education of their students, buying laptops for all of them. In today's high speed, easy access society many people use laptops to do everything. The opponants of this innative viewed that the easy access to social media would be a problem, but in other ways it can be useful for the studets to use in their assignments. Different froms of social media are used in many classrooms today, such as blogging about topics or responding to a wiki. These forms of social media are used to benefit the students through the sharing of ideas. The only problem I see with this is the fact that this 10 year program took so long to be put in place, and the high cost put on the taxpayers to finance these tools for the students.

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