The concept of the Maine Learning Technology Initiative began with a vision of former Governor Angus King to prepare Maine's students for a rapidly changing world.
In speaking with other governors, Governor King realized that all states were undertaking very similar investments in areas like education and economic development, and if Maine wanted to jump ahead of these other states, it would require a sharp departure from what Maine had done in the past. Immediately, everyone recognized that education represented the most crucial area for this major change and Gov. King recalled a conversation he had had with Seymour Papert, an expert on how technology can provide new ways to learn, where the idea of how to transform education was discussed. During their conversation, Papert convinced King that a major transformation would happen only when student and teachers worked with technology on a 1:1 basis and that any other ratio would not produce the transformation everyone sought.
In late 1999 and early 2000, a one-time state surplus enabled Maine to make the dramatic step of announcing a plan to equip all of its middle school students and teachers with a personal learning device. After the initial public reaction to the plan, it became clear that more discussion and examination of this concept was needed and thus in the summer of 2000 the Legislature and Governor convened a Joint Task Force on the Maine Learning Technology Endowment and recommended the best course for Maine to follow.
In early 2001, the Task Force issued its report, "Teaching and Learning for Tomorrow: A Learning Technology Plan for Maine's Future." The report included a recommendation that Maine pursue a plan to deploy learning technology to all students and teachers in 7th and 8th grade, with possible expansion to other grade levels. The Task Force report also included several guiding principles which have been embedded into the work of MLTI. During that spring legislation was authorized to begin the program for the school year beginning in September, 2002.
In late September 2001, the Department of Education issued a Request For Proposals (RFP) for MLTI and after scoring all of the proposals, selected Apple Computer, Inc. as the winning bidder. In late December 2001 the Department and Apple formally began to implement the Maine Learning Technology Initiative.
In the Spring of 2002, legislation was enacted to start the program for the school year beginning in September of that year. That first year brought over 17,000 devices to students and educators in 7th and 8th grade classrooms.
In January of 2006, the Department of Education issued a second RFP for MLTI after four successful years of the program, to refresh and update the program as technology was rapidly changing.
In 2009, MLTI expanded into high schools. The expansion was part of an agreement the state Department of Education negotiated with Apple Inc. for a reduced rate on the laptops, allowing the state to lease up to 100,000 machines within existing funds dedicated to educational technology. Under the agreement, the state could provide new laptops to all high schoolers and replace older machines at the middle school level. School districts were not required to participate in the program, though superintendents indicated overwhelming support for the laptop expansion.
The expansion led to an order placed for the largest education technology program of its kind. The Maine Department of Education announced in 2009 that it placed orders for more than 70,000 MacBooks for students and faculty in grades 7 through 12.
In 2012, MLTI issued the third RFP to empower the fourth generation of the program (MLTI IV). For the first time, MLTI expanded to include multiple platforms, both laptop computers and tablets provided by multiple technology-solution providers.