April 28, 2013

Maine picks laptops – but not Apples

An exclusive contract comes to an end as the governor and state education officials go with Hewlett-Packard.

By Beth Quimby bquimby@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

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The decision baffled some school technology directors, who said they will probably recommend staying with Apple products because of the costs associated with switching to a new operating platform.

Crystal Priest, technology coordinator for SAD 4, which includes Guilford, Sangerville, Parkman, Cambridge and Wellington, said Saturday she will recommend that her school district stick with Apple. She said the Apple iPads offer a richer educational experience, and that there are training costs associated with moving to a new system.

"From a purely technical point of view, the HP is a less robust network than the one we currently have. It will not handle the traffic as well," said Priest.

Jef Hamlin, technology director at RSU 34, which includes Old Town, Alton and Bradley, praised the decision. He said the HP option is cheaper once the hidden costs that come with Apple products are added in.

For example, Apple iPads do not come with keyboards, so the district would have to buy them in order to use the devices to administer standardized tests, he said.

"In general, the consensus is the iPad is a kind of a 'gee whiz' thing, but there is a lot of stuff you can't do with an iPad," said Hamlin, who added that his district already uses Hewlett-Packard computers in some of its elementary schools.

Education Commissioner Stephen Bowen said the laptop program makes learning relevant.

"MLTI devices are as good as the teaching that goes with them," he said in a statement Saturday.

Beth Quimby can be contacted at 791-6363 or at:

bquimby@presshessherald.com

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