Little nugget 'O hope for yr. platter...
March 11, 2003 10:23 AM   Subscribe

Laptops transform learning for 7th graders in rural Maine : It "was more controversial than abortion, gay rights or even clear cutting," said former Gov. Angus King. But "Just six months after Maine began a controversial [and first in the nation] program to provide laptop computers to every seventh grader in the state, educators are impressed by how quickly students and teachers have adapted to laptop technology."(NYT)
posted by troutfishing (17 comments total)
My computer usage growing up:

1% Glorified Typewriter

99% Oregon Trail

Damn Fucking Right I'm forging the river.
posted by Stan Chin at 10:30 AM on March 11, 2003

Stan - that computer of yours is not within the current budget. Can you suggest a cheaper one? could we buy it for less at Wal-Mart?
posted by troutfishing at 10:34 AM on March 11, 2003

I don't know if this is a self-link since it's the place I work for, but the Beaumont Foundation is giving away $350 million in laptops to schools and nonprofits over the next four or five years. We are particularly focused on schools in terms of getting the laptops to go home with kids. Many times the children are the tech experts in the home, and parents learn how to use a computer from them. Given that even in order to apply for a job at Target now, you have to know something about technology, digital literacy is critical. I could go on for days about this, but I sense that I would be preaching to the choir.
posted by pomegranate at 10:59 AM on March 11, 2003

You approach a gravesite. Would you like to take a closer look? Y/N


Stan Chin, I love you.
posted by agregoli at 11:04 AM on March 11, 2003

Man, Oregon Trail was the mass media experience of our generation, wasn't it? (Still in the curriculum today, BTW.)

From the article: "My husband and I both work at Bowdoin College, and we see the rate of students bringing their own computers to campus. It's virtually 100 percent."

I went to school in a poor, rural district. I won an Apple IIe in a science fair in 1986 and I don't remember any other kids having computers at home, but every second or third classroom had a computer. When I was in college in the mid-90s, it was the rare student that had a laptop in class. Do the kids these days really own laptops and take them to school? I know my boyfriend in law school has one and he says most of the other students use them in class, but I figured that was a bunch of kids rationalizing purchases with future earnings. MeFites share: how many students in your area are using these things?

Pomegranate: It's a really good point you make about kids teaching the parents. What a wonderful seed to plant.
posted by teenydreams at 11:27 AM on March 11, 2003

Wow, as a former resident of Falmouth Maine, I can't believe that both my town (yesterday) and my state (today) are being mentioned in FPPs. Yeah Maine!

Teenydreams, I graduated from college in 01 and didn't know anyone who didn't have their own computer. Mind you, probably about 60% had desktops, but 99% of the campus had a personal computer of some sort. I would imagine this holds for most private schools and all the large state schools.

BTW, in my view, one reason Maine does poorly on college graduation rates is the poor quality of higher education in the state. Actually, I have no idea what the REAL quality of the education received at the main campus in Oreno is. However, I know many people from my high school class who choose to go out of state to other New England public universities because they had NO desire to live in Oreno, Maine. In my opinion the best thing the state could do for education is invest heavily in the Portland campus of University of Southern Maine. Portland's a great town, perfect for a good university. If USM was developed into something real, even a dual flagship campus to compliment Oreno, that you might actually see out-of-stater tuitioning in! Anyone else from Maine here? What do you think?
posted by pjgulliver at 11:37 AM on March 11, 2003

Don't forget that lemonade stand game.
posted by rudyfink at 11:54 AM on March 11, 2003

Pjgulliver, I live in Portland (I posted the Falmouth FPP yesterday), and I completely agree with you about USM. My husband is in the process of deciding whether to drop out of the computer science program there and just get some tech-school certifications so he can get into the workforce, because the cs dept ain't so hot. (They've barely got enough profs to retain their accreditation, for one.)

Re the laptop program, I also have what would be considered a self-link. One of my co-workers recently wrote an article about an overlooked aspect of the program: ergonomics. Basically, it's going unaddressed. It's an interesting read, if you're, uh, interested. (we're in the middle of a site redesign, so please pardon the hideous layout and broken links on the above; it's a lowly archive page. )
posted by damn yankee at 12:00 PM on March 11, 2003

Ummm...I'm a complete idiot. "Orono" not "Oreno" God I'm such an embarrassment.

Damn Yankee, what part Portland do you live in? I feel so nostalgic right now.

I liked your Falmouth FPP. However, I disagree with your me, the Falmouth planning board has become an arbitrary institution over the years, one that often reneges on previously granted approval after developers have broken ground. It also utterly lacks a coherent plan to help Falmouth transition from a small, rural town to a wealth suburb, a transformation that is ongoing, will continue, but could be managed in a way that creates a positive outcome for all.
posted by pjgulliver at 12:06 PM on March 11, 2003

I work at the county library as the resident computer type fella, and I can tell that the title kids request the most for the game computers is Oregon Trail 3. the legacy lives on! (second place: Jumpstart, third place: Frogger 2)
posted by mcsweetie at 12:41 PM on March 11, 2003

I live in Congress Square, right on Congress St. (Hopefully I don't have any MeFi stalkers ...). It's been a hellish winter but I still love this city.

Thanks for your perspective on the Falmouth planning board -- as an outsider looking in (even from next door) I tend to have a more "oh no, save pretty Falmouth!" outlook. It's interesting to learn that the PB is so capricious. (Though, given the way other towns operate that I'm familiar with, I sadly can't say I'm surprised.) I really hope all this sprawl-talk of late is the beginning of a new era of long-range land-use planning.

posted by damn yankee at 1:07 PM on March 11, 2003

I live in Maine, too. It's very unlikely that the laptop program will be re-funded after the current expenditures. I wholeheartedly agree with the goals of the project - increase technical literacy for students and teachers in Maine. But why laptops instead of much cheaper, sturdier, more adaptable, upgradeable desktops? Most schools don't let kids take them home. Many families in rural Maine have no ISP reachable by a local call. Why not use schools or public libraries as POPs to increase Internet availability?

The laptops were slick and high profile, so that's what we got. They make a good NYTimes story. Next year when there are no music programs, no art programs, no librarians and increased class sizes in Portland schools, I hope the Times returns to see how terrific the laptops are.
posted by theora55 at 2:19 PM on March 11, 2003

Why do you need music, art, libraries, or small classes if you have a laptop?
posted by alms at 2:28 PM on March 11, 2003

pjgulliver, there are a lot of us from Maine here on MeFi ... and you might be interested in looking at the comments from the first time Maine School Laptops were discussed on MeFi. (Not calling double post - I just think its interesting how the topic has progressed since its first posting.)
posted by anastasiav at 5:43 PM on March 11, 2003

Anyone else from Maine here? What do you think?

I grew up in Maine (from about birth to age 18), and I think that it was a mistake to put the flagship campus of the state university system in Orono. Portland is the only community of real interest in the entire state, and if it had a bigger university it would be even better.

My apologies if you live in the northern three quarters of the state, but many HS seniors reject the U Maine system out of hand because of the thought of living outside of Bangor. I'd imagine that the pool of potential professors is also severely limited by placing the most prominent campus in an area that's remote, cold and poor.

(Note to any Mainers who take exception to my typical Cumberland County snottiness: feel free to dig up my real identity and threaten my Mainer parents. They could use some excitement.)
posted by Mayor Curley at 5:51 PM on March 11, 2003

pjgulliver, there are a lot of us from Maine here on MeFi

If that's true, then why am I out here all by myself in the top right-hand corner of the map?

p.s. I was just up at the UMO library in Orono on Saturday, taking out books, and I had a lovely time. (Then I sped home, so as not to spend too much time in the dreaded Bangor area.)
posted by LeLiLo at 7:34 PM on March 11, 2003

Also, this laptops in Maine thing always reminds of one of my very favorite quotes from Thoreau's Walden, written in 1854:
"We are in great haste to construct a magnetic telegraph from Maine to Texas; but Maine and Texas, it may be, have nothing important to communicate."
posted by LeLiLo at 8:23 PM on March 11, 2003

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