Sharon Betts, Nick Azzaretti, Scott Bourgoin, Colleen Akerman, Cheryl Oakes, and David Trask published an excellent article in the September 2009 issue of ACTEM’s “Electronic Educator” newsletter titled, “Netbooks: Another Solution for Maine Students.” I recommend you read the full article, but here is an excerpt that may give you some clues about why I think Maine and the educators piloting netbooks in their schools are one of the most important 1:1 implementations to follow and learn from today:
In an effort to offer comparable access to schools that can’t afford MacBooks through the state’s MLTI program, a group of technology educators have formed a consortium. This group’s goal is to find an affordable and effective alternative solution which meets the needs of Maine’s schools and students. The hope of the consortium is to pro- vide students with similar access and opportunities as compared to districts able to join the MLTI expansion. These educators, with representation from 18 districts, met to discuss the educational philosophy of expanding technology and to develop the requirements for a netbook, or mini-laptop, capable of meeting student and teacher needs. After careful consideration, using the MLTI project as a model, they developed and distributed a Request for Proposal to technology vendors. Twenty-four proposals were returned and evaluated by the members before a selection was made. The selected ASUS netbook has a base price of $289 with a 1-year warranty and $438 with a 3-year warranty. Unlike many other net- book warranties, the winning proposal covers batteries and chargers for the full warranty period.
It should be emphasized that the resulting equipment, a 10” netbook running either the Windows or Linux operating system, will have the software and accessories necessary to support 21st-century global learning. Software supporting 3-D design, music creation, movie making, concept mapping, office applications and image editing is included. These tools will permit students to create, communicate, and collaborate in a user-friendly way. Many districts will be taking advantage of online applications such as Moodle, Google Applications for Education and Wikispaces. A separate organization has stepped forward to offer support to districts adopting netbooks. Open1to1.org will give free support for the open source software being installed. The open1to1members are also are working on a digital locker program and initiating a learning collaborative for teachers using netbooks in their classrooms. It is hoped that with the expansion of these netbook programs, districts across the United States will show an interest in joining this open support group.
I’m hoping to publish a podcast interview soon that I conducted at ACTEM09 with Warren Luebkeman, who is the founder of Open1to1.org, to further share and amplify this VERY important work ongoing with netbooks in Maine. Kudos to all the co-authors of this excellent article! How exciting to learn more about your work with open source technologies and netbooks with Maine students and educators. This has important potential implications for us all.
As a related aside, the PDF to the September 2009 “Electronic Educator” is a bit large at 11.4 MB and slow to download here in the Tokyo airport. I’d recommend anyone posting PDF files to the web with a Mac consider using the feature of Apple’s “Preview” application to “SAVE AS” and use the setting to reduce file size. I discussed this in a bit more detail in my February 2009 post, “eTechOhio, School Reform Ideas and Smaller PDF Files.”
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