When the Internet and digital tools first rose into popular consciousness, one major concern was that the barriers to access them would create a “digital divide” between rich and poor. Those with access to expensive new technology, the thinking went, would rocket ahead of those without it.
The Maine Learning Technology Initiative was one of the earliest and largest efforts to bridge that divide. Starting in 2002, it provided a laptop to every seventh and eighth grade student in Maine. It now distributes about 66,000 devices annually, including some to teachers, at a total cost of about $11.5 million per year.