Maine to expand computer program - negotiating 100,000 Apple MacBook laptop lease for students, teachers, and administrators

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By: switchtoamac at: 11:24 PM on March 13, 2009 | Comments (0)
An Associated Press report released on March 13, 2009 indicated that the U.S. state of Maine is expanding its program to provide Apple laptop computers to students.  The program will seek to provide a laptop to every public school student enrolled in graded 7-12 by this fall.
Maine was the first state in the United States to distribute more than 30,000 computers to each seventh and eighth grade student in the state's public schools system in 2002 and 2003.

"About 30 high schools already have laptops that they obtained outside the scope of the original program. But now all 120 of Maine's high schools, along with 241 middle schools, will have new laptops under the same program, at a cost of about $242 per computer per year, said Education Commissioner Susan Gendron."

The state's education department announced that they're in the process of negotiating a four-year lease with Apple for the company's Apple MacBook laptops.  Note that the deal has yet to be finalized therefore, Apple has not provided any official comment about the program.

Governor John Baldacci made the following statement during his State of the State address Tuesday, "Every night when students in seventh through 12th grade bring those computers home, they'll connect the whole family to new opportunities and new resources,"

Baldacci also highlighted that each laptop would connect to Maine's career centers.

Under the current program, Maine pays approximately $13 million per year to provide Apple laptops to 37,000 middle-school students as well as to 10,000 middle school and high school administrators and teachers.  By increasing the scope of the program, Maine expects to offer Apple MacBook laptops to 53,000 high school students.

Strategically, Apple working to increase Mac use in the classroom will pay future dividends for the firm.  By getting school children accustomed to using Macs and Mac OS X at an earlier age, they increase the switching costs and multihoming costs for students to use PCs running the competing Microsoft Windows operating system.  The program increases Mac use in the home thereby acting as a Trojan horse to influence Mac adoption by Maine households with middle and high school aged children.

Essentially, it behooves Apple to lock-in these future users who are more computer savvy than their predecessors of years past.  Most of these children have grown up in the digital age alongside the ubiquitous iPod and iTunes Music Store.  Wouldn't it thus make sense for Apple to increase their efforts to get more Macs into schools and work with other states on similar initiatives?

In the end, students are the real winners as the article referenced a 2007 study by the Maine Education Policy Research Institute at the University of Southern Maine which highlighted that student writing scores improved after the initial program was introduced.  Today's classrooms must leverage computers and the Internet as tools that facilitate learning.

You can read the entire AP article here.

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