The state of Maine is ready to place another huge order from Apple

The state of Maine has expanded a growing student laptop program that now includes most of the state's high school students, requiring Apple to ship 64,000 MacBook laptops to the state.

The Maine Department of Education may need an additional 7,000 MacBooks on top of the 64,000, which surely will please Apple during a global recession.  Around half of the public high schools in Maine are taking part in the program, with some school districts requesting official waivers to use stimulus funds to pay for the program.

The laptops are expected to reach Bangor, Portland, and Augusta, with several other school districts expected to announce their participation in the program.

Since 2002, the Maine Technology Learning Initiative (MTLI) has provided middle school students across the state with MacBook laptops.  The state's Department of Education decided to expand the offering so students in grades 7 up to 12 will have access to the state-funded laptops.

"We have seen incredible success with our middle schools showing increased student engagement and achievement with MTLI in place and we want to bring this same opportunity to our high schools," Maine Education Commissioner Sue Gendron said in a statement issued by the state.  "This is not just about technology -- it's about using the technology to support education."

Apple will work with state officials to include software that can be used by students to work on documents, create presentations, edit photos, and carry out other necessary tasks.  The laptops will ship with programs such as iLife and iWork, along with whatever software the state of Maine believes is necessary.

There have been scattered reports of both public schools and universities providing some type of laptop or MP3 player device to students, but it obviously is still a very rare occasion.  A growing number of school districts have shown interest and e-book readers to cut down on the cost of printed text books, but that has been met with state and regional money issues. 

"We are going to continue to work with them to make sure they understand the reality of the Internet.  A lot of these people don't have Ph.Ds, and they don't have a degree in computer science." -- RIM co-CEO Michael Lazaridis

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