The state of Maine has signed a $41 million contract to provide Apple laptops to more than 30,000 middle schoolers and their teachers, Associated Press . The contract continues Apple’s deal with Maine for another four years.
Macworld has confirmed that Maine will receive iBooks — not Intel-based MacBooks, as has been speculated. Reasons include cost: Maine negotiated a deal that costs $289 per laptop per year — significantly less than they would have been able to negotiate on MacBooks. Another issue was relative familiarity with iBooks — MacBooks are a brand-new model without a long-term track record of reliability and serviceability.
The new iBooks feature faster processors, more memory, and DVD Combo drives, according to the report.
Part of the Maine Learning Technology Initiative, the state issued iBooks to all seventh and eight graders and their teachers beginning in 2002. Although the program was criticized by lawmakers and citizens who were concerned about its efficacy and cost, it eventually won over many critics after it showed that student attendance was up and detentions went down. Cape Elizabeth technology coordinator Gary Lanoie joked to AP that if the laptop initiative hadn’t been renewed this year, teachers “might lynch” him.
About 32,000 of the new iBooks will be given to students; about 4,000 are slated to be given to teachers. The contract includes warranties and professional development for Maine’s public middle schools.
Unlike Henrico County, Va., which put its decommissioned iBooks up for sale for $50 each and promptly created a mob scene, Maine plans to continue to use the older iBooks these new systems are to replace. The older iBooks will be redeployed in other grades and for other purposes. In total, Maine will have more than 70,000 iBooks in circulation.