updated 05:47 pm EDT, Mon June 30, 2014
After iPad issues, district allows high schools to pick from one of six devices
After a $30 million deal to provide Apple iPads to students at 47 campuses in the Los Angeles Unified School District went sour, the district is now turning toward a hodgepodge of laptops and hybrid computers. In an article from the Los Angeles Times, the shift marks a departure from the one-device standard that was previously adopted.
Last year, the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) made a decision to initiate a program that would give each student at the 47 schools an iPad for use in class. The project ran into a handful of issues, starting with the circumvention of school content-security measures. Over 300 students bypassed the security blocks to access the Internet and social media services. Once discovered, the schools confiscated the iPads -- causing a number students to be left without a device, as they were never returned.
The program was faced with monetary setbacks later on, with the school district running over its budget. Of that budget, $20.3 million was earmarked for the purchase of devices. However, the budget included a discount on the devices which it wouldn't qualify for until $400 million was spent with Apple. It was intended that the program would eventually reach $500 million, which a matching amount for upgrading Internet connections. The district also faced incomplete education materials that were purchased with a three-year license.
Instead of pursuing a fix for the program, or going back to revise the terms, the LAUSD is changing its approach. Now, the district is sending contracts to the Board of Education to allow 27 high schools to purchase one of six devices for each student. The cost is expected not to exceed $40 million. Teachers, students and administrators will be able to test the devices in the fall to decide which models should be used in the future.
"The benefit of the new approach is clear," said school board member Monica Ratliff. "Why would we treat all our students -- whether they are a first-grader or a high school freshman -- as if they all had the same technology needs? They don't ... to have a one-device-fits-all approach does not make sense."
So far Chromebooks, the Microsoft Surface 2, the hybrid Lenovo Yoga Touch and the Dell Latitude E7240 laptop have been chosen for possible use. Schools were tasked with deciding which models they would choose to test last Friday. On top of the devices, curriculum from Houghton Mifflin, Harcourt, McGraw-Hill/StudySync and Pearson are being trialed.
The iPad program is currently on hold in the district, which leaves the status of the funding and districtwide rollout in question. However, some schools are still scheduled to receive the Apple devices in the next school year. Depending on the models chosen, the move to laptops and hybrids could outpace the budget set for iPads.