We’ve been following the Los Angeles Unified School District’s (LAUSD) iPad program for quite some time. The reason is that LAUSD is the second largest school district in the U.S. and can be considered a tastemaker when it comes to new programs. When the District’s school board approved a $30 million contract with Apple to provide iPad tablets for every student, it piqued our interest as to whether this would become the new way of classroom learning.
Turns out, no.
According to the L.A. Times, this year, the Board approved a new program that would allow schools to pick the technology their students would use this school year. Staff and administrators at the District’s 27 high schools have been tasked with choosing one of six models of laptops to be rolled out this fall. Teachers and students will treat this upcoming school year as a test to determine whether the chosen laptops should be used going forward.
“The benefit of the new approach is clear,” said Los Angeles Unified school board member Monica Ratliff, who chaired a panel that reviewed the technology effort. “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.”
This sentiment is completely opposite to what the District felt was the right thing to do last year when it contracted Apple to bring an iPad to every student in every school. At that time, proponents of the iPad program pointed out the benefits of managing only one device, as well as savings based on bulk purchases.
A quick rundown of last year’s timeline is that the District discovered that the iPads were being hacked and so they recalled as many of them as possible (almost one-third of iPads were not on campus and had still not turned up as of October, 2013). Even though it turned out the iPad rollout was way over budget, the Board voted to continue the program. Some members did question whether this was a good idea in the long run. After a quieting down for the rest of the school year, we hadn’t heard much about the iPad program from the LAUSD until now.
With this new program, it is likely that iPads will no longer be top priority for the District, which also means it is probably not going to be a sought-after device across the nation in the coming years. The iPad may be ideal for education. But it seems that education is not ideal for the iPad.