Despite some recent bad press for Maine’s laptop program and its choice of Apple’s iBook, one school system in the state that’s been using the Apple portables since 2000 is keen on the laptops.
A Bangor Daily News
article notes that SAD 4 Superintendent Matthew Oliver has written a report about the successful laptop program at Piscataquis Community Middle School (PCMS), which incorporated iBooks into the curriculum in 2000. The small, rural school system was the first in Maine to try such an experiment, and one of the first in the nation, the story said.
PCMS is one of the nine demonstration schools that will receive the first round of iBooks next month as part of Gov. Angus King’s initiative to provide laptops for all seventh-graders beginning this fall and all seventh- and eighth-graders the next year. All the school students and their parents must read and sign an Internet disclosure and permission form, which helps avoid problems other school systems have faced.
Students who abuse their Internet access will have their privileges taken away. They also receive classroom training in “acceptable and intelligent Internet usage,” Oliver told the Daily News. Once they do all this, they get an “Internet driver’s license,” a laminated card that they carry around with them and must produce before they are permitted to go online.
In addition, the school has “intense” initial professional development and ongoing training, the Daily News reports. For instance, the district is offering teachers 26 different classes on technology this spring. Teachers attended conferences and an iBook boot camp, visited other schools with successful laptop programs and listened to presentations by representatives from Apple and SEED, a professional development group for teachers, Oliver said.
As for the iBooks themselves, educators have found them to be rugged and durable, the article reported. Although Apple offered “tremendous” technical assistance and resources, the school rarely needed to call the company with problems.