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Microsoft, HP make laptop pitch to Maine educators


HP’s ProBook 440 beat out Apple’s iPad and Macbook Air, as well as an HP tablet and the CTL 2go Classmate PC, as the preferred device for the Maine Learning Technology Initiative.

Hewlett-Packard and Windows 8 might not take Maine’s Apple-loving schools by storm, but HP and Microsoft making a strong pitch to educators who must decide this week which laptops or tablets they’re going to provide to more than 70,000 middle and high school students this fall.

Apple was the sole provider of laptops under the Maine Learning Technology Initiative for a decade before HP won a competition in late April to become the state’s preferred one-to-one computing vendor.

Cameron Evans, the chief technology officer for Microsoft Education, acknowledged that Maine educators are accustomed to Apple products but said the HP proposal provides the same tools—and even more—while utilizing a Windows operating system preferred by entrepreneurs.

For more news about mobile learning, see:

Keys to Successful Mobile Learning

“This is a journey, and we’re committed for the long haul,” Evans said after meeting with education officials at the State House and visiting several school districts.

Evans was in Maine to talk to educators about an HP ProBook 440 with Windows 8, which would be fully funded in middle schools as the state’s preferred option under the Maine Learning Technology Initiative. The state will leverage its buying power for high schools, about half of which participate in the one-to-one computing program.

(Next page: The choices facing Maine’s schools this week—and what Evans is saying to persuade them)

While HP won the competition, school administrators still can choose to buy from Apple, which offered a less-expensive iPad tablet and a more expensive MacBook Air laptop. And the state didn’t anticipate that HP would win a majority of the contracts on its first try, said Samantha Warren, education department spokeswoman.

Maine, the only state to provide laptops to public school students statewide, worked with Hawaii and Vermont to negotiate the contract focusing on five different laptops and tablets.

School districts have until June 13 to decide among the options, including an HP laptop at $254 per unit per year over a four-year lease, or the iPad or MacBook Air. Other options include an HP tablet and a CTL 2go Classmate PC.

For more news about mobile learning, see:

Keys to Successful Mobile Learning

Evans acknowledged he had his work cut out for him because of educators’ familiarity with Apple products.

He approached his task with enthusiasm and a sense of humor. “It’s not about being cool. It’s the geeks who’ve inherited most of the world,” he joked in response to a question about Apple’s cool factor.

And for educators, he had a different message, urging them to be open-minded about the merits of the HP proposal even though they’re more comfortable with Apple.

“I would encourage them not to focus on what’s right for you but what’s right for students. We can do not only what they’ve been doing, but amazing things they hadn’t even imagined,” he said.

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