Next gen MLTI: tablets or laptops?

Tablets or laptops? For at least two years now we’ve been getting that question, similar to the way in which the focus once was: Mac or PC? As with the last time, Jeff Mao, our Director of Learning Technology, and I try to remind people that we don’t choose a device – we choose a learning solution that will enhance learning in the ways we demand in our request for proposals. It’s up to vendors to show us how their solution will do that, whether it’s a laptop, tablet, smartphone or something else.

As you’ve probably read here (and here and here and here), this time around we’ve worked with a multi-state collaborative. This will do two really important things for us. First, it will leverage our buying power. If vendors know they can win business in multiple states, it should bring prices down for us. But even more important, having more states get involved in 1-to-1 solutions for their students helps Maine, too. As Jeff told the Lewiston Sun Journal, “Our hope is that it increases the likelihood that other states will do this style of work, which will then increase the number of people we can then collaborate with, things like sharing curriculum or sharing teacher professional development methods.”

We’ve cleared the first big hurdle on the path to a new statewide educational technology solution. Five of the 16 bids have been approved. The five approved proposals are: iPads and laptops from Apple; a tablet and a laptop from HP; and a netbook from CTL. States can use any of them to fulfill their technology needs. Jeff and his counterparts in Vermont and Hawaii are negotiating the final details with the winning vendors. Then Maine will choose which of the five to pursue as its statewide solution.

We anticipate making that decision soon – whoever we choose is going to have to manufacture 70,000 or so devices in time to be loaded with software and deployed to all of Maine’s middle schools and likely more than half of our high schools.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t take this opportunity to thank Jeff Mao publicly for his leadership in this effort. Jeff is a nationally-recognized leader in the use of technology in schools who could be doing lots of things. He chooses to put his expertise to use here in Maine, working for state government. A generation of Maine students are the beneficiaries.

3 responses to “Next gen MLTI: tablets or laptops?

  1. Choosing a ‘solution’ verses a ‘device’ is paramount to being successful in a school district. The MLTI Apple solution has served us very well as an integrated solution with training included and one vendor to choke if something needs addressing. Jeff has done a great job in keeping MLTI on track and focused toward a total solution, while having other states look at our program and its successes. Keep up the good work Jeff!

  2. Chuck McLaughlin

    The present MLTI laptop solution is not only capable of performing very well with all the issued MLTI software but it can adapt and perform very well to non MLTI software and web uses. Sufficient graphics card power (as mentioned by Amy) makes it capable of running complex commercial software like AutoCad and Photoshop. The ability to perform well with web sites that use Java and Flash make almost all web content viewable. The full featured iTunes/imovie/Keynote software makes it capable of creating full featured creative multimedia presentations. It can connect to all sorts of cameras, sensors, printers, scanners, and other devices. It can also do the light-weight task of displaying and reading aloud epubs, etexts, and other forms of online books. This wonderful MLTI laptop design is truly a winner. Kudos to the MLTI for developing a truly inclusive productive tool over the last ten years. I wish you the ability to make this next MLTI tool useful for as many students and programs as possible right from the day of deployment!

  3. I think it’s important to look at future implications of the technology while keeping in mind where we are today. There are some educational platforms that will require video card capabilities in order to utilize the virtual components of platforms like Minecraft, Second Life and other immersive environments. I appreciate the commitment to ensuring a technologically prepared student base and the efforts of people like Jeff Mao toward that imperative! 21st Century HERE WE COME!!!

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