InformationWeek is reporting on Maine's latest efforts to expand its 1:1 computing initiative. According to the posting,
The massive order stems from the state Department of Education's decision to expand the Maine Learning Technology Initiative into all public high schools. Maine has been providing Apple MacBooks to middle school students and faculty under the MLTI since 2002.
While it would be easy to argue the value proposition of 64,000 MacBooks versus other platforms (although Macs, with their easy content creation software and durable exteriors do offer value in their own right), I'd rather point to Maine's successful strategy of 1:1 expansion. Teachers throughout Maine middle schools have designed curricula and activities around students' abilities to access a computer anytime they need it. It's no wonder that high school teachers and students are clamoring to continue the program in grades 9-12. Imagine going to a job where the company provides you with a laptop for 3 years and then switching jobs, only to find that you need to bring your own laptop to the new job.
It's worth noting, while we talk about value, that the laptops will include both the iLife and iWork suites. I'm no fan of iWork (although KeyNote is super-pretty), it does provide students with a perfectly workable productivity suite at a fraction the cost of Office. While iLife is included with any Mac, it makes creating multimedia content across curricula so easy that teachers can focus on the content instead of the software.
I've heard a lot of talk about the "1:1 tipping point" recently; while it's usually associated with netbooks, anything that pairs ready student access to computers in and out of school with solid curricula that exploits their utility gets an A in my book.