The first shipments of iBooks have been arriving at nine Maine middle schools. These schools, one in each region of the state, were selected to be Demonstration/Exploration Schools and receive an advance deployment of computers. With a total of 675 iBooks due, the Apple laptops will serve several classrooms of seventh grade students at each school.
They’ll also serve as learning laboratories and training sites for teacher professional development, as well as to test the technical reliability of the equipment, according to an
Apple Hot News story. The demonstration schools will be open for other districts to visit for an average of one day per week. What’s more, they’ll share experiences and student products with visiting teachers from the region and at regional and state conference sessions.
The demonstration schools are geographically spread across Maine based on the state’s nine school superintendents’ regions. They represent a range of school size and composition, including classrooms in several K-8 schools, according to Apple.
In January Apple negotiated a contract with the Maine Department of Education to provide 36,000 iBook systems to seventh and eighth grade students and teachers across the state. Part of the Maine Learning Technology Wireless Classroom Solution, the effort’s goal is to make Maine students “become one of the most digitally capable groups in the world.”
The state of Maine’s department of education put out a request for proposals in mid-September, and announced in December that Apple was the top bidder. At the time, the state indicated that the deal would be finalized after the successful negotiation of an agreement and the requisite regulatory approval.
The guidelines for the plan call for seventh grade students and faculty to be equipped with computers by the fall of this year. Eighth grade students will be equipped in 2003. Apple’s contract with the Maine Department of Education runs through the end of June, 2006, with the possibility of additional extensions.
Previously, Apple’s biggest deal for iBooks came in May 2001 when the new, redesigned iBooks were first introduced. On that day, Apple announced that 23,000 iBooks would be provided to the state of Virginia’s Henrico County.