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Yet another mostly fuzzy warm story about how Maine giving iBooks to 7th graders makes them better students. Only a few parts of the article divurge from anecdotes to look at results. The short-term results look good, but tens of millions of dollars good?
This is my fundamental problem, stated many times, about the Maine program. They spend tens of millions on this program without concrete goals and targets, or ways to measure results. I don't suggest that standardized testing outcomes are the sole method of determining results, but they didn't provide any way of looking at this.
Instead of spending $37 million on iBooks, what if they had spent $37M on new teachers, textbooks, field trips, and the arts and sciences? I don't know what $37M would have bought, but I do know that they should be performing a cost comparison on the outcomes.
This program is not per se a bad idea. Rather, the notion that you would spend this money and even want to expand it without any substantive idea of whether it's achieving its advantage in cost is ridiculous.
Posted by Glennf at June 16, 2003 11:42 AM
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Apple agreed to build out the entire infrastructure, too, provide training and support, train IT people, etc. Actually, for the features needed by a school, Apple was highly competitive with the other notebook makers who were considered. Each notebook company made proposals, and Apple's was the one that won. So it wasn't decided in a vacuum.
Posted by: Glenn Fleishman at June 30, 2003 1:17 PM
I wonder what convinced them to go with Apple? Certainly PC notebooks and the supporting infrastructure would have been much cheaper. Not to mention they'd be giving students experience with the dominant platform. Maybe Apple gave them a big break thinking it would help them sell more in the long run getting the 7th graders hooked early. $2176 per student doesn't exactly sound like a deal. And in any case, I agree that the money would be better spent elsewhere.
Posted by: karl at June 30, 2003 1:08 PM
Yeah, bravo on the infrastructure, but to quote George Bush, "is our children learning?"
Posted by: Glenn Fleishman at June 28, 2003 6:53 AM
Funny you should mention that--I sat next to Apple's guy in charge of the Maine program on a bus ride back from the Apple Campus last night (I was there for WWDC). He was telling me about it, and it sounds like they've built an incredible infrastructure--centralized NOCs, Xserve RAIDSs with 20 terabytes of storage, the works! I have to admit, I was a little amazed to hear about the scope of the project!
Posted by: Buzz Andersen at June 27, 2003 9:29 PM
Quite true. My city is currently in a School Budget crunch, and if they had that money and spent it on iBooks for the kids which half of them couldn't or wouldn't use, instead of reducing our class sizes to legal teacher student ratios, or funding new computers in the classrooms, or new books or programs, I would not be a happy person.
Posted by: Emily Chapman at June 27, 2003 9:04 AM
If I remember rightly, this was one of the points made by Clifford Stoll in his book 'Silicon Snake Oil". The same thing happens in Australia; money spent on computers which would be better spent on books for the Library and more teachers.
Posted by: Vergil Iliescu at June 26, 2003 4:47 AM
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