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Building a Statewide Infrastructure for Learning

Building a Statewide Infrastructure for Learning

In 2001, Maine kicked off the Maine Learning Technology Initiative (MLTI), the first statewide effort to provide students and educators across multiple grades with 24/7 access to personal learning devices. A joint task force convened by the governor and the state legislature assessed Maine’s education needs and the infrastructure that would be required for implementation of one-to-one computing, including hardware, software, internal and external school networks and servers, technical support, and educator professional development.

To be able to provide all aspects of the infrastructure to support worthwhile uses of technology for learning while staying within Maine’s budget parameters, the decision was made to focus the first phase of MLTI on middle school students.
After pilot-testing and training at “exploration sites” in each of the state’s nine regions, Maine’s one-to-one program was extended to seventh-graders in all state middle schools in 2002 and to all eighth-graders in 2003. MLTI now equips each of Maine’s 243 middle schools with wireless Internet access and provides each school with enough laptops for every seventh- and eighth-grade student and educator to use both in and outside school. Since MLTI’s inception, more than 37,000 laptops provided by the program have been used by over 100,000 educators and learners throughout the state. MLTI also provides intensive professional development, implementation assistance, and technical support to educators to ensure that the technology is fully leveraged to support student learning.

Maine believes that its investment in technology for its middle school students has paid off: the state’s eighth-grade writing proficiency jumped 12% after statewide one-to-one implementation (Silvernail & Gritter, 2007). Laptop use has also been linked to gains on statewide mathematics tests and improved retention of science course material (Berry & Wintle, 2009; Silvernail & Bluffington, 2009).

Inspired by this success, Maine has expanded its laptop initiative to all students in grades 9–12. The state is committed to funding wireless Internet access in all Maine secondary schools and has negotiated discounts for districts to provide their students with laptops.

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