updated 11:50 am EDT, Mon October 10, 2005
Maine\'s school laptops
Maine's $37.2 million dollar One-to-One laptop program for seventh and eighth graders is set to , with critics citing misuse by students. Many students and teachers, however, are saying that the program has improved attentiveness in the classroom, and that children of the digital era ought to be using equipment that is familiar to them, according to a report from MaineToday.com. Studying the program revealed that students do use the computers for purposes other than education: some joined a group that followed election results online during lunch, while another student writes fictional stories during her free time.
The program started in January of 2002, and while test results showed no significant changes after the laptops had been passed around, David Silvernail of the Maine Education Policy Research Institute said test results don't speak to the program's success or failure, noting that stories from the classrooms are where to look. "Are they learning differently? Are they learning more? We have evidence that that is the case," Silvernail said.
Seventh-grade science teacher Kelly Fitz-Randolph at King Middle School in Portland said: "They still need to know how to use a microscope, but (the laptop provides) instant learning, things you would have had to wait for, things you couldn't get, you can better teach in better time -- with hands on and eyes on -- than you could without the tool."