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2003 The Maine Learning Technology Initiative: Teacher, Student, and School Perspectives Mid-Year Evaluation Report

Date: March 2003
Author: David L. Silvernail & Walter J. Harris
Affiliation: Maine Education Policy Research Institute
Keywords: Maine, MLTI


One of the strategies Maine is using in preparing youth for the future economy is a statewide program to provide every seventh and eighth grade student and their teachers with laptop computers, and to provide professional development and training for helping teachers integrate them into their classroom instruction. The goal of the Maine Learning Technology Initiative (MLTI), according to the Task Force on Maine's Learning Technology Endowment, is to: "...transform Maine into the premier state for utilizing technology in kindergarten to grade 12 education in order to prepare students for a future economy that will rely heavily on technology and innovation." (Task Force on Maine's Learning Technology Endowment, 2001, p. vi). This report presents some early evaluation evidence on the effectiveness and impact of the implementation of the Maine Learning Technology Initiative (MLTI). The goal of the Year One evaluation, which was conducted by the Maine Education Policy Research Institute (MEPRI), was to provide policymakers and practitioners with information that would assist them in determining whether or not, and to what degree, the vision and goals of the MLTI were being achieved. The Year One design focused primarily on the students who entered seventh grade in September 2002, and their teachers and schools. The MEPRI evaluation team focused the Year One evaluation on obtaining answers to three key questions in three core areas. The core areas are Teachers and Teaching, Students and Learning, and Schools and Community. The three questions are:

1. How are the laptops being used?

2. What are the impacts of the laptops on teachers, students, and schools?

3. Are there obstacles to full implementation of the MLTI?

Key Findings:

The early evidence in the core area of Teachers and Teaching indicated that a majority of teachers reported using the laptop in lesson development and classroom instruction. Teachers were:

* locating more up-to-date information,

* accessing information more easily and quickly,

* presenting lessons, and

* creating student assignments.

These uses were having positive impacts on their teaching. Teachers found that their lessons were:

* more extensive,

* used more up-to-date resources,

* and provided more opportunities to explore knowledge and information in more depth.

They saw the potential for using the laptops and technology in more sophisticated ways, but felt that some technical problems and the lack of technical support sometimes limited their use of the laptops. In addition, teachers felt they needed more time and professional development for this to occur. This included:

* time to explore and learn how to use the technology, and

* professional development activities designed to help them integrate the technology more extensively in their curriculum development and instruction.

Despite these concerns, teachers reported that the laptop program had many positive impacts on their teaching. Overall, many teachers remained enthusiastic about the Maine Learning Technology Initiative and look forward to learning more through sustained training efforts.

With regard to Students and Learning, the early evidence indicated that the Maine Learning Technology Initiative dramatically increased the use of technology within classrooms. Students reported using their laptops to:

* research information,

* complete assignments,

* create projects, and

*communicate with teachers and other students.

As the students began to use the laptops more within their classes, they reported an increase in interest in their school work and an increase in the amount of work they are doing both in and out of school. The nature of student learning in classrooms may be changing because students have the tools to pursue, organize, analyze and present information more readily at hand. Although some students continued to experience technical problems, most were excited about using the laptops in their classes.

Parents reported that their children were more focused and more interested in school.

Schools faced some added expenses in the implementation of the program, but through creative solutions many schools were finding ways to minimize these costs, and possibly even saving money as the laptops replace materials such as reference books and calculators.

The evaluation team concluded that the evidence indicated that significant progress had been made in implementing the MLTI. The mid- year evidence indicated that the laptop program was having many positive impacts on teachers and their instruction, and on students' engagement and learning. Some obstacles existed in fully implementing the program, but significant strides had been made in a very short time period toward achievement of the goals of MLTI.

Source Article: http://www.mcmel.org/MLLS/mlti/index.html