Hampton Public Schools to adopt laptop initiative

Jordan Crawford | 10/17/2013, 9:49 a.m.
Hampton Public Schools is planning to link students to technology with its One-To-One Technology Initiative.

Clearly not one to be outdone, the Hampton Public School System will introduce a pilot program next semester linking students to technology called One-To-One Technology Initiative.

Currently, 3,000 schools across the nation are implementing One-To-One for students in grades 3 and up, according to Tom Greaves, CEO of the Greaves Group, a partner with the Hayes Connection and the One to One Institute.

The program is designed to put digital tools in the hands of Hampton fifth and seventh graders.

“Fifth graders because they are young but on the verge of middle school, and seventh graders because they are in transition from studies to social life,” said spokesperson Diana Gulotta.

Hampton City Council approved $2 million to launch the program. A committee will decide which digital tool they want the students to have.

In 2002, Maine launched its first Maine Learning Technology Initiative (MLTI) that equipped all of the state’s 30,000 seventh and eighth grade public school students and teachers with their own Apple iBook. The endeavor attracted a lot of attention.

The program’s goal, according to the 2001 document “Teaching and Learning for Tomorrow: A Learning Technology Plan for Maine’s Future,” was to “prepare young people to thrive in a world that doesn’t exist yet, to grapple with problems and construct new knowledge which is barely visible to us today.”

As the first statewide One-To-One deployment, MLTI’s $37 million education experiment represented a grand-scale commitment to a controversial technology-centric approach to education.

“We were honored to have been selected as one of the original pilot sites for the Maine Learning Technology Initiative,” said Rich Abrams, superintendent of Maine Area Schools. “It posed some new challenges that required us to be ‘out of the box’ thinkers. We had some staff that were reluctant to be behind their students in this arena.”

According to Abrams, the students were enthralled and the initiative was quite lucrative, leading to the implementation of student-teacher collaborative digital projects. Soon, other states such as Texas and Michigan followed suit and formed their own laptop initiatives.

Ambiguous Results

Though the initiative is in high demand, the overall impact of one-to-one programs in the last decade remains a bit unclear.

Specific data linked with improved student outcomes on standardized tests remain elusive.

A 2007 survey by the University of Southern Maine’s Center for Education Policy, “The Impact of the Maine Learning Technology Initiative on Teachers, Students and Learning,” found a correlation between One-To-One programs and state test scores difficult to determine, noting the limitations of standardized tests in evaluating technology-centric learning.

Early reports in Michigan, such as “Freedom to Learn: Michigan Students Unplugged” (2005) and “Michigan Freedom to Learn Program” (2007), found that schools across the state were showing higher student engagement, fewer suspensions and discipline problems, and in some places, significant increases in math and science scores as a result of the program.

Affording One-To-One

Last April, the Henrico County School Board in Henrico, VA, signed a $17.6 million contract for new laptops, despite multiple teachers and other residents voicing skepticism over whether the laptops were a wise expenditure in difficult financial times.