The Evolution of 1:1 in Three Maine Districts
People in the ed tech world tend to bow their heads when they think about Maine, thanks to its first-of-its-kind statewide 1:1 project, the Maine Learning Technology Initiative (MLTI), which has been providing technology to secondary schools for about 15 years.
In 2000, a one-time state surplus paid for Mac laptops for every 7th and 8th grader in the state. Nine years later, MLTI supported schools that chose to expand into the high schools – although the older-grade program was optional and districts were responsible for paying for the high school computers.
In 2013, when the MLTI contract with Apple Computer ended, the state decided to branch out and see what other vendors could offer. Later that year, the Maine Department of Education announced that HP was the preferred provider, but that schools could go with other vendors (including Apple) and the state would cover the cost (for grades 7 and 8) up to the amount of the HP proposal. The following three Maine districts are among those who opted to embrace the new options. Here’s a look at how it’s going for them:
#1: Scarborough Public Schools
Scarborough Public Schools has gone 1:1 for grades 3 to 8 and is planning to expand to the high school in the next year. As with most Maine districts, Scarborough started with the MLTI program in grades 7 and 8 but in the fall of 2013, they chose to go one-to-one with HP 4440s and 440s for grades 3-6.
“We’re in our 13th year of one-to-one at the middle school, and it’s been a process,” says Holly Graffum, middle school technology integrator. “At the beginning, the devices were more of a fancy tool. Today, they are much more integrated.”
These days, teachers use a different thought process when planning lessons and student projects, deciding how instruction will happen, and figuring out how students will be assessed. Becoming a Google Apps for Education school also caused a shift in how teachers operate: Graffum says they now share more information with each other and their students. Many teachers have gone paperless. “Last year, I handed out and collected only one paper assignment in my social studies class,” she says. “All of the information was delivered via Google Drive.”
Teachers create movies, presentations, interactive websites, and a lot of digital textbook content that students access online. They use Google Classroom to help distribute and collect information from students and Google Earth to take virtual field trips and increase global awareness.
Choosing the Hardware
The district conducted an extensive financial analysis before settling on devices for the expanded program, says Jennifer Lim, director of technology & information services for the Town of Scarborough (which includes the municipality and the school district). They compared a full-fledged HP laptop with both the MacBook and Apple’s newer MLTI solution, built around iPads.
“With the iPad, the State only provided one keyboard for every eight devices, so we would’ve had to buy keyboards for the remaining student iPads. We also had a negative experience with volume purchases in the past, and we found trying to manage Apple IDs across a broad spectrum of devices was challenging,” says Lim.
Maintenance and upkeep were other considerations. According to Lim, imaging a Windows device takes 75 percent less time than imaging a MacBook, and her team handles about 2,500 devices. “Furthermore,” she says, “glass screens on iPads don’t stand up well when a 6th grader drops one.” Not only did the HP laptops seem hardier, but the fact that HP offers multi-year accidental damage protection was another plus.
Once the district factored in replacement, maintenance, and the cost of apps, the iPad turned out to be one of the most expensive options. Lim and her team thought the HP M4400 would be the best bet. She says another reason to switch was that the town departments use Windows devices so the school can leverage buying power for Microsoft apps and other tools.
The middle school has had the HP 4440s for two years and everyone is pleased. When Scarborough opened a new intermediate school, the administration asked HP about volume pricing and was pleased with the numbers.
Recently, the high school was given the green light to move forward with its 1:1 program. “We chose the Lenovo 11e Flip model, a laptop that can convert into a tablet,” says Lim. “The 11.6-inch screens met portability requirements, and the convertible design allows for lots of flexibility within classroom curriculum.”
Helping Teachers Make the Change
When the district switched from Apple to Windows, teachers all received professional development to help with the transition. They learned how to use the new laptops but it wasn’t smooth sailing from there, so the district hosted a tech day in October during which middle school teachers were able to sign up for various workshops, such as how to work more efficiently with Google Drive. “Having teachers choose workshops helped immensely, and the smaller groups allowed them to ask more questions,” says Alicia Sorensen-Biggs, Scarborough’s MLTI coordinator and K12 technology specialist.
Since that time, PD has evolved into a two-tier format. First, teachers learn about the actual hardware (e.g., how to use a document camera). Then comes the integration piece, in which technology integrators or teachers talk about what they are trying to accomplish with that tool. Each integrator works with a specific school and builds relationships with the teachers so she or he can focus on whatever is needed and can go into classrooms to demonstrate or co-teach.
#2: Regional Schools Unit #4
Regional Schools Unit (RSU) #4 is a consolidated district based in Wales, Maine. The entire district is 1:1 with a variety of devices and platforms. Instructional need and use is determined with educators prior to evaluating and choosing the device. For this educational reason, the district chose to offer students access to different devices at each grade span. “Students change devices all the way through, which provides them with a more flexible approach to learning using technology,” says Norma-Jean Audet, education technology director for the district.
Currently in her fifth year as tech director, Audet has seen the 1:1 evolve from grades 7 and 8 (through MLTI) to the entire district of 1,500 students. Oak Hill High School was one of the first high schools in Maine to look at Chromebooks, back when there weren’t as many to choose from, and Audet says the district is happy with the results. “My team manages the Chrome so the only login is for Google Apps. The teachers love using the Hapara Teacher Dashboard; once students log in, everything they need is at their fingertips.”
Audet believes Chromebooks are a perfect fit for the high school, especially since teachers and students already were using Google Apps. Next year, she’ll have to replenish the devices but doesn’t see any reason to change. “We’re looking at a gaming curriculum that includes game design and screenwriting, and it will work perfectly on the Chromebooks.”
RSU #4 offers proficiency-based education, which Audet says cannot happen if students just go to a computer lab once or twice a week. “We still have labs in our primary schools, but all that is being dismantled. We’d rather use that space for additional classrooms,” she says.
Professional Learning Groups
Rather than hiring technology integrationists, RSU #4’s teachers and administrators work with the technology team as part of an ongoing professional learning process. Every Wednesday, school starts one hour late to provide teachers with PLG time where they learn about everything from supporting students to using DIBELS data. The learning is customized to teacher needs.
Once a year, there is a technology day for teachers and students in grades 3 through 8. Students and teachers sign up for sessions that are facilitated by teachers, students, MLTI staff, and surrounding districts. “Everyone participates in the same tech-infused excitement,” says Audet. “They learn about different apps, movie making, podcasting, and more.”
Students Helping Students
When the district first went to one-to-one in the elementary grades, the middle schoolers who had been using the MacBooks as part of the MLTI program were, quite literally, involved in handing down their devices to the younger students, as they transitioned to new HP computers. On the first elementary school tech day, each middle school student was paired with a fourth or fifth grader to hand over the Macbook and teach the younger student how to use it.
“It was exciting to see the middle school students sharing with the younger ones,” says Audet. “A lot of them were saying, ‘Can you imagine where we’d be now if we had our devices in third grade?’”
#3: MSAD/RSU #74
MSAD/RSU #74 – a rural district with a high percentage of low-income students – also moved its MLTI Macbooks to the lower grades to accommodate Windows computers in the middle school grades. Fifth and sixth graders are currently the youngest students involved in the one-to-one program. They use the Macbooks throughout the school day but do not bring them home at night. By using them responsibly in school, district leaders say the students are training for middle school, when they will be allowed to bring their 1:1 devices home.
In grades 7 and 8, each student now receives an HP ProBook 4440. Parents have a choice: they can pay $50 annually (or apply for financial aid) for a laptop protection plan, they can opt out and but be responsible for any damages, or they can select to have their child not take the laptop home. “No matter what they choose, the students have access to their class work at home because we use Google and other cloud-based apps,” says IT Manager Scott Hall.
High school students are given HP ProBooks, too. Teachers in grades 7 through 12 have the same exact model as their students, but with DVD drives.
Switching to HP
For a long time, the high school did not have a 1:1 program. Students went from having a laptop of their own in middle school to going to a computer lab. In the 2012-13 school year, the decision was made to go to 1:1 for grades 7-12 and the middle and high school teachers were asked to rank their choices of devices. HP was either the first or second choice for both groups. According to Hall, “No other device was in the top two on both sides. We knew we wanted a continuous solution; it made the decision easy.”
He says HP has been a true partner. Both of his IT technicians are HP certified; they get parts within 48 hours of ordering from HP and do most of the repairs in-house to save time. “Anyone who wants to be HP certified can be,” he says.
Learning to Use Google and More
“We use Google Forms for surveys and for staff to sign up for PD opportunities,” says Jaime L. Steward, K-12 technology integrator and data/assessment coordinator. “We require the teachers to use Google Forms instead of paper, which has helped them become more comfortable using it.”
Two years ago, when the district first started using Google Apps, they offered monthly Google training after school. Staff members signed up with questions and the IT staff tailored the training around those queries. “Last year, we focused on HP, since we were moving from Apple,” says Hall. This year, teachers wanted to learn how to use Google Forms to create quizzes, how to use LanSchool, and how to use Google Sites as a communication tool.
According to Steward, the one-to-one program has been a major factor in spurring innovation. Every year, one of the science teachers puts together a big science fair. Each student can create something for the fair using his or her computer. Last year, a student used SketchUp to make an invention for the science fair and printed it on the new 3D printer.
The laptops allow math and science teachers to do a lot of fun activities. Grades 6 through 8 use iXL, a personalized online math program, twice a week to reinforce lessons and receive supplemental support. Some students use Khan Academy for personalized videos tied to standards. Other students are involved in a robotics program that started five years ago
“Having information at students’ fingertips is a big change for teachers, and it’s become the norm,” says Steward. “Progression is gradual, but I’m not sure teachers could teach fully without the laptops.”
She explains that students are taking the initiative to teach themselves new skills. For instance, a student may want to learn how to do something in Movie Maker, but the tech integrator may be too busy. “Trying to get time with a tech integrator is difficult when you have 400 students and four tech staff members, but students can go to Atomic Learning or YouTube and figure it out on their own. That kind of self-learning is great.”
At A Glance
Scarborough Public Schools
- 3,200 students and 500 staff
- 3 primary, 1 intermediate, 1 middle, and 1 high school
- 1416 students, approximately 120 teachers
- 2 Pre K-2 schools, 1 elementary (3-5); 1 middle school (6-8); and 1 high school (9-12)
- 673 students, 53 teachers
- 2 elementary, 1 community school, and 1 high school
Scarborough Public Schools
Grades 3-8 are 1:1 with 2,000 HP ProBook 4440s and 440s
K-2 has Lenovo laptops and Apple iPads in classrooms
Wentworth Intermediate School was completed in the summer of 2014. It is completely outfitted with Eno boards and document cameras in every classroom as well as 3D printers and a digital media production room. Other schools also have access to Eno boards, interactive projectors, 3D printers and more.
The entire district is 1:1, as follows:
- Grades K-3: 434 iPads
- Grades 4-5: 199 Macbooks (off-lease MLTI devices) – transitioning to Chromebooks in September
- Grade 6: 88 Windows 7 Lenovo laptops – transitioning to Chromebooks in September
- Grades 7-8: 203 MLTI HP laptops
- Grades 9-12: 417 Chromebooks
All PK-2 classrooms are equipped with wall-mounted projection TVs, and an Apple TV provided through the MLTI program. All classrooms 3-12 are equipped with projectors.
1:1 in grades 5 and 6 with MLTI Macbooks
1:1 in grades 7 and 8 with HP ProBook 4440s
1:1 in high school with HP ProBooks
Scarborough Public Schools
Video: The Potential of MLTI (created by an RSU#4 student)