NCETC with Governor Angus King

NCETC with Governor Angus King

9:15 AM
I sitting in the keynote address, being delivered momentarily by Governor Angus King, the former governor of Maine, and chief evangelist if not architect of that states 1:1 initiative.

Right now, Gwen Varsamis, the director of the conference is making introductions. I’ll be posting updates to this entry as I hear ideas that especially strike me.

9:26 AM
A great euphamism:

“Just cause the cat had it’s kittens in the oven doesn’t mean you got biscuits.”

In Maine…

Every computer is in the classroom every day. It’s not computer labs and laptop carts. Its a computer in every hand, and this is transformational.

37th per capita income
Industry and the value of natural resources were decline.

How do you change that when the world is changing really fast.

9:36 AM
Insight # 1
Again, educators have been asked to read, The World is Flat. He says to have a bottle of advil with you when you read it.

We are in danger of losing everything we’ve built up over the decades. Anything that can be done without touching you or something that you own, it can be outsourced to another continent.

Insight # 2
Governor’s Association meetings. They are all chasing the same thing — the future. You don’t get ahead of the competition by keeping up, but everyone was doing the same things to reach the future.

Insight # 3
Everything we did was incremental! It’s baby steps. Are we progressing, or changing. Is progress the same as change?

9:54 AM
When the initiative was announced and the e-mails were 10 to 1 against putting laptops into the hands of students, and 7th graders became the most despised minority in the state. One reported called it “The governor’s laptop giveaway.”

They did a two-prong campaign, one for the legislature and one for the public. A lot of the legislators didn’t know what the computer could do. He set up a wireless network in his office for demonstrations. Apple came into middle schools, set up computers and networks and teach about the Battle of Gettesburg. Teachers, parents, and board members came in to learn what could happen to classrooms.

10:10 AM
The people of Guilford, Maine, decided not to wait for the legislature and governor, raise the money, and implemented 1:1 right away. The governor has to sign the budget, so the money came.

There were compromises. Deciding whether the students could take the computer home, because a local issue. A mistake was not training administrators and tech coordinators. They can be a barrier, you need the leadership. There are places where it’s going great and places where 1:1 is not running well. The factor is, without exceptions, is the leadership.

Test scores won’t go up. Writing is the exception. Writing will improve. Discipline referrals went down 75% and attendance went up. Breakage rate is about 3%, and there is no difference between districts where students took them home and those who kept them in school.

10:17 AM
The contract with Apple is $300 per student per year for computer, training, network, etc. That’s 0.5% of state education budget.

I defy you to do any thing else with such impact for one one-half of one percent.

And by the way, this is not a glorified computer lab. Get that concept straight.

  • Vision one is Education
  • Vision two is Equity
  • Put Maine on the Map

Darwin: Survival of the fittest. No, that’s not what he said. The fittest are those organisms, organizations, and individuals who are most adaptable to change, will survive.

Gretsky: Scored more goals than anybody else, and he’s not big. His Canadian (an unarmed north american with health insurance) answer, “I skate to where the puck is going to be, everyone else skates to where it is.

3 thoughts on “NCETC with Governor Angus King”

  1. Governor Angus King is a tremendous public speaker. I find his passion for 1:1 computing uplifting. I’m sure you enjoyed hearing his thoughts.

    As a Technology Integration Specialist in a Maine middle school that is in its fourth year of 1:1 computing under the Maine Learning Technology Initiative(MLTI), I would agree with much of the insights you’ve addressed in your post. The initial reaction by many teachers, administrators, and tech folks was anxiety. Many were fearful of the work, procedures, etc. of rolling out hundreds of laptops in a school. In my own school I faced teachers who were attempting to sabotage the success of the program as a means to ignore this new tool available to all their students. It’s been a tremendous journey as we’ve grappled with the “issues” that have come about from our students having access to a laptop wirelessly connected to information thoughout their school day.

    We are currently in the fourth and final year of the agreement between Apple Computer and the State of Maine. This means the future of the project is completely up in the air for next year (depending on what the legistlature does). Ironically, as we look at possibly losing this tremendous program, many of the teachers who balked at the iniative at the beginning are its greatest supporters. Teachers in my building continually seek me out to find out any new information I may have about the possibilities of next year.

    I thought I might provide a few more insights from inside the MLTI project.

    1. I have never seen anything (including NCLB) that has changed the way teachers and students teach and learn in my educational career. Students are finding many opportunities to teach their teachers what they know about these tools and what they can do.

    2. Collaboration has changed dramtically. Students collaborate on a regular basis with other students and collaborate with teachers on many levels.

    3. The focus has been on learning and not technology. That is the biggest key to the success of the program. It didn’t matter that Apple got the contract vs. Dell or any other vendor. It was about the tool and the learning experiences it could provide. Our school provides access to online databases, encyclopedias, BrainPop, Atomic Learning, and more to supplement the software and electronic encyclopedia that is already installed. Our Library/Media Specialist has been instrumental in assisting teachers and students with research skills and more.

    4. Support is vital to success. My teachers have access to me and our Library/Media specialist for assistance as they seek new and innovative ways to integrate technology and electronic information into their lessons. A number of the teachers in my building have given up their textbooks and provide their course electronically.

    Just a few ramblings. I’d be happy to discuss more if there’s interest. I just threw some ideas down quickly. I may be reached at

  2. I heard Governor King speak earlier this month via a webcam at a Technology Symposium hosted by Irving ISD in Texas. Our district has a lot in common with Maine and we have learned from Maine’s one to one integration efforts. We are also in our fourth full year of integration for all high school students which means grades 9-12 at all four high schools are furnished laptop computers. We were able to fund this initiative because our community supported a bond, and unfortunately, this year is the last “official” year of the bond money (we are stretching the money out another year). Hopefully we will be able to continue the program through the passage of another bond and support from federal funds.

    Our district also had the initial revolt to the laptop initiative. Many teachers, and even some students, were reluctant to veer away from the known and try something new. However, I am proud to say that the teachers and students in our district have made great strides in integrating technology in to the classroom, and I see or hear something impressive everyday about something one of students has accomplished. Unfortunately, I do still see more technology integration that I would not classify as “seamless” than I would like to. Any suggestions on how to improve the application level so the technology usage is more seamless and authentic?

    I am a huge proponent of the one to one laptop initiative. I believe it has given unlimited opportunities to students who may have never had access to technology because of socioeconomic concerns. I would love any feedback or comments from anyone on how to further improve our current practices. Hopefully, someone in the government will realize how beneficial these types of programs are and will provide us some money to continue with these necessary initiatives!

  3. In response to the last post’s question about helping technology integration become more seamless, I think this has a lot to do with teacher training, and everything to do with curriculum. What Dave posted about on Dec 2nd regarding what the curriculum prepares students for is key. The curriculum is mandated from on high (now with major federal influence, not just state input) and I am increasingly convinced it must change. Reading “The World is Flat” is a good step for all teachers, but I think most (like me) are left with the question, “So what do we do?” Daniel Pink’s book “A Whole New Mind” provides some specific answers. We have got to help students and teachers acquire skills as accomplished and effective storytellers. We have to emphasize the development of literacy skills as communication skills that go beyond the 3 R’s. I am sickened by how many classrooms still make spelling tests each week one of the highest stakes / most emphasized activities for students! Good grief! Of course we all need to know how to spell, but the reason for that is not so we can pass spelling tests, it is so we can communicate powerfully and effectively with a range of audiences using a variety of tools. I think Dave’s core message in “Redefining Literacy for the 21st Century” is a big part of this answer. We have got to focus on literacy, and get people to acknowledge and then act upon the fact that since the meaning of what it means to be literate has changed, what we are doing in classrooms to prepare students for their literate future must also change.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *