Maine’s Learning Technology Initiative (MLTI) began as the brainchild of former governor Angus King. Over nearly a decade the program has expanded from 7th and 8th grade to include high school as well. While the middle school MLTI program has a laptop in the hands of every student, the high school expansion does not yet meet 100% coverage. 23,000 laptops will be distributed to Maine high school students in roughly more than half of Maine’s 119 high schools. 67,000 laptops will go out for students and teachers grades 7-12. This is the largest implementation of laptops to public school students in the nation. Hey Arne Duncan, you know that 21st century innovation you’ve been lookin’ for? Well take a look at this.
Now that Maine public schools have such a proliferation of computers, digital textbooks should be the next step. Maine’s budget is tight, that is no news. News on where the cuts will come to make ends meet will be coming. Education, 40% of the state’s budget, will certainly face some cuts. Digital textbooks could compensate for some of those cuts. The cost of books are reduced. The relevance of texts, especially history, can be updated as needed, not every five years. The weight of backpacks are lessened. Students can never claim they left their text at home or school. Some digital texts even allow a teacher to see who has actually read what.
The benefits of digital texts are enormous for Maine. We have the technology. It is time to make them more than expensive word processors. Innovate or be left behind.