A lot has happened since Maineis Governor King announced his plan to give every middle-schooler in his state an iBook; the original funding for the program has all but disappeared, causing many supporters to rethink their positions and giving opponents of the program ammunition, the program received a boost from, Bill Gate, in the form of a 1 million dollar grant from the Gates Foundation, and from a Maine native son, Stephen King, in the form of an offer to mentor young writers. Through it all the thoughts and opinions of the people on the front lines, the teachers, have gotten comparatively little press-play.
Wired News Reporter, Katie Dean, went to Maine to see what some of the teachers had to say and reports her finding in a recent Wired News article titled Teachers Mainely Happy With Tech. It seems that many of the teachers who have had a chance to be involved with the program are pleased with the results.
"I wasnit computer literate before this. I was definitely skeptical at first," said Steve West, who teaches eighth-grade science and social studies at Conners Emerson School in Bar Harbor and described himself as a bit of a Luddite. "Now, I couldnit be more excited about it. Itis so user-friendly. Itis so intuitive."
Both seventh- and eighth-grade students and teachers have had laptops since last spring at Conners Emerson. The school was chosen as a demonstration school for others in the region.
West said he was worried the iBooks would be more entertaining than educational for his students, like television. But the laptops have proven their worth, he said: They allow for more student-centered projects and give kids access to a variety of current documents and news sources. His classes recently worked on a lesson comparing the 1798 Alien and Sedition Acts to the USA Patriot Act.
"I think we have to train kids to use technology wisely," he said. "I really hope this program succeeds. This is getting kids ready for the future."
The article quotes several other teachers who give a positive assessment of Gov. Kingis plan, but there are still those who have serious doubts:
"In a pure world where education was well funded, laptops would be wonderful," said Charlie Colson, an eighth-grade math teacher at Mount View Junior High.
"I would suggest that it is an ethically and morally bankrupt position to spend $37 million on laptops when (in some areas) children donit get breakfast or donit have a safe place to go to school," he said.
"Itis not the best use of the money for the common good," Colson added.
Colson and his students do not have laptops yet. Eighth-grade students and teachers are scheduled to get them next year.
Stop by Wired News for the full article.