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Home > Rules & Legislation > Letters from the Commissioner > Informational Letters > Letter 20

 

INFORMATIONAL LETTER: 20
POLICY CODE:        IHAJ

 

TO:                Superintendents of Schools, Principals, Business Managers, Technology Coordinators, MLTI Teacher Leaders, MLTI Technology Leads

FROM:            Susan A. Gendron, Commissioner

DATE:             September 1, 2006

SUBJECT:       Maine Learning Technology Initiative Update

 

The next phase of the Maine Learning Technology Initiative (MLTI) has begun in partnership with Apple Computer, Inc., and laptop computer devices (nearly 38,000) have shipped to all participating schools.

The deployment of this phase of the program will include a number of upgrades and the introduction of new systems. All of these will require input and coordination among local schools, the Department, and Apple Computer, Inc. There are many new systems and protocols to be introduced, as well as specific training including:

  1. deployment of new laptop computers and software

  2. upgrades/installations of wireless networks

  3. professional development opportunities for principals, teachers, and technology leads

  4. introduction of a new online learning and collaboration environment

  5. introduction of a new electronic mail system for participating staff and students

  6. enhanced warranty and technical support.

For the most current information, anyone can subscribe to the new MLTI RSS feeds (http://www.maine.gov/mlti/portals/). These feeds will help keep you informed of new articles published on the MLTI Frequently Asked Questions websites, and of new information sent to the MLTI email distribution list.

1.  Deployment of New Laptop Computers and Software
The new laptop equipment has been shipped to each of the 234 participating schools over the past three weeks. Schools should inventory every individual laptop device to ensure both that it was shipped in good working order, and that each device is present and accounted for based on inventories published in the MLTI Asset Manager (http://assets.mlti.org). Login information for the Asset Manager was sent via U.S. Mail in the first week of August, 2006 to each school’s Deployment Contact as listed on the school’s Device Order submitted to the Department in July. Return and repair protocols were included in the mailing and are posted in the MLTI Asset Manager in Tech Update #21 (http://assets.mlti.org). Devices are preimaged with the new MLTI image, and only require that schools modify the administrator password to a localized password.

The new MLTI laptop devices are a significant upgrade from the previous model. While the outside appearance of the device is very similar, the computer has benefited from the experiences of the first deployment and from 4 years of innovation in the computer industry in general. For specific details on the laptop and included software, please see http://www.mlti.org/2006details.htm.

2.  Network Upgrades/Installation
All school wireless networks will be upgraded as part of the new deployment. These upgrades will begin in September, 2006 and are expected to be complete by February, 2007 at the latest. Schools that do not have wireless networks now because of new construction or migration to a different school building will take precedence. In general, all schools must complete online School Readiness Checklists (SRC) before the network upgrade will be scheduled. The SRC is also located in the MLTI Asset Manager, and specific directions were included in the August mailing to the Deployment Contacts. These details are also listed in the MLTI Asset Manager in Tech Updates #21 and #22 (http://www.mlti.org).

3. Principal, Teacher, and Technology Lead Professional Development
Professional development is the key to success for the MLTI. It is critical that school personnel attend professional development events. Schools should not send technology staff to principal and teacher training in lieu of principals and teachers because professional development is specifically designed for different roles. Professional development will begin for principals in September and October, 2006. Specific details, dates, and registration are available at http://training.mlti.org/principalhome.shtml. Teacher and technology lead training will begin in October, 2006. Specific details will be available online at http://training.mlti.org. Learning opportunities for all will be ongoing.

4.  New Learning and Collaboration System
The new learning and collaboration system will use the StudyWiz online system. The introduction of the MLTI StudyWiz environment will be done in stages in coordination with principal, teacher, and technical staff professional development. The new system will be available at http://studywiz.mlti.org. When available, students and participating staff will utilize the same user account login names and passwords as they use to access their MLTI email accounts (see next section). For schools with no student email access, the account will access StudyWiz only.

5.  New Electronic Mail System
The new electronic mail system is expected to be available to schools in mid-October, 2006. The new system will replace the previous MLTI FirstClass system (middlemaine.org). Schools will utilize a new module in the MLTI Asset Manager (http://assets.mlti.org) to create and manage user accounts. Each school may choose from a number of different levels of access to email for students: full access (may send and receive email with users on the public Internet), MLTI access (may send and receive email with users at other MLTI schools with at least MLTI access), school access (may send and receive email with users at the same school), or no access (may not send nor receive any email). Staff accounts will have full access. Schools may change email access levels for an individual student at anytime in the MLTI Asset Manager (http://assets.mlti.org). Regardless of a school’s email access level, every school will need to generate accounts for all students and participating staff because these accounts will also be used to access StudyWiz system.

The email system includes filtering of known viruses and SPAM. Messages containing a virus will be deleted immediately and will not be delivered. Email identified as SPAM will be labeled in the “Subject” header of the message, but will not be deleted.

6. Enhanced Warranty and Technical Support
MLTI devices are covered by an enhanced 4-year AppleCare Warranty and Support agreement. In order to receive these enhanced services, schools must follow MLTI repair and support protocols and utilize the MLTI Local Depot for all warranty repair work. Repairs performed by non-authorized service providers and technicians will void the MLTI AppleCare Warranty and Support for that device. Restoration of the MLTI AppleCare Warranty and Support coverage for that device will require that the device is re-repaired and inspected by the MLTI Local Depot at local cost.

Repairs performed by in-house certified AppleCare technicians or a Department approved Apple Authorized Service Provider (AASP) will not void the MLTI AppleCare Warranty and Support agreement. However, for some repairs not all services covered by the enhanced MLTI Applecare Warranty and Support agreement will be available to in-house certified AppleCare technicians nor to AASPs. In addition, the Department does not maintain an agreement with other AASPs, and it will not be able to aid schools in the event of a faulty repair or slow service. Schools with an in-house certified AppleCare technician will need to determine the best use of their skills and time against the availability of the MLTI Local Depot.

The MLTI Local Depot will also repair MLTI devices that require out-of-warranty repairs. For out-of-warranty repairs, schools may utilize either the MLTI Local Depot, in-house certified AppleCare technicians, or a Department approved AASP (http://www.maine.gov/mlti/aasp/). Out-of-warranty repairs should be the exception and not the rule as these types of repairs should only be necessary due to accidental or intentional physical damage to the device. Each school should establish a policy on how it will manage the costs of accidental and/or intentional damage.

Each school has been allotted a specific number of buffer pool devices. These devices are available to schools in exchange for a device that has been damaged beyond repair or has sustained enough damage that a repair is not feasible. In general, no out-of-warranty repair should exceed $755. All buffer pool exchanges must be approved by the Department. School buffer pool allocations are displayed in the MLTI Asset Manager (http://assets.mlti.org).

Links to MLTI Information
http://www.mlti.org - MLTI Website for general information, deployment issues, etc.
http://assets.mlti.org - MLTI Asset Manager for asset tracking, user account management
http://www.mainelearns.org - Resources and information for Educators

For more information, please contact Jeff Mao, Coordinator of Educational Technology, 207-624-6634, jeff.mao@maine.gov.