updated 09:00 pm EDT, Fri July 26, 2013
Apple contract will kick off with 31,000 iPads, covers all K-12 students
A total of more than a half-million iPads will be given out by the Los Angeles Unified School District, covering 1,124 schools by the end of 2014 in a deal worth "hundreds of millions" to Apple -- far larger than the $30 million contract initially reported. That contract covers only the first deployment of iPads, covering 49 schools and an estimated 31,000 students that will be given out by the end of the year. As reported earlier, Apple will be the sole vendor for the ambitious project, resulting in costs of nearly $415 million over the first two years for the iPads alone.
The schools covered including all grades from Kindergarten through high school, and target in particular students who otherwise would not have access to the technology. The bulk of the total cost is the $678 per iPad fixed cost, which will come pre-loaded with Pearson e-textbooks and other educational apps that make up the remainder of the money. Each iPad will also come with a full three-year warranty, and allow the district to keep its learning materials completely up-to-date. Indeed, despite the large sums involved, the LAUSD believes it will save money compared to the costs associated with providing traditional textbooks and other educational materials to the schools.
Other tablets were considered and rejected as being "lesser" than the iPad, despite pressure from other vendors (particularly Microsoft) to diversify the program to include a range of tablet models. The board voted unanimously to reject this approach and give iPads to all students, following (on a grander scale) programs across the nation that offer iPads as a replacement for most traditional school materials. Studies have supported the notion that the cutting-edge technology found in tablets helps students learn by being more flexible in approaches, and able to support apps to tailor the learning experience to each student's needs.
Apple had said at the time the deal was announced that it was the first step of a larger rollout with LA schools, but the details and scale of the project were finally revealed by CITEworld, an educational journal. A number of colleges are now also requiring or providing iPads, acknowledging the "post-PC" scenario that is likely to be even more prominent for everyday computing use in the future.