Hans Renman, a Swedish IT professional, was blunt: There are some things Maine educators are doing right now that are superior to what educators in his own country are doing—but not for long.
“We are planning to be better than you,” Renman, one of 40 Swedish educators, politicians, and information technology pros touring Maine schools, said May 4. “This is the place to go to see a large-scale experience of what you can do in the schools. We learn a lot from you guys.”
Renman, an Apple Computer of Sweden employee, and part of the larger group—about 12—broke off to visit Auburn Middle School and Edward Little High School that morning, meeting with teachers and students to get direct testimony about how the state’s laptop program helps improve instruction. Other members of the larger group visited other schools around central Maine.
Maine has made student laptops the centerpiece of its ed-tech program since 2002, providing laptops for all seventh- and eighth-grade students and wireless networking for all of their classrooms. It was expanded in 2009 to include all high school teachers and most high school students.
It’s the largest one-to-one laptop program in the nation, according to Lori Twiss, ed-tech integrator at Edward Little.
“Maine is the only place in the world people can come and see a program that is this intensive,” Twiss said.
Maybe, but not for long, according to the Swedish educators. Ebba Jansson is deputy mayor of Botkyrka, a city just southwest of Stockholm. The city has recently approved a plan to provide laptops for every student in seventh, eighth, and ninth grades.