Last year, the Los Angeles Unified School District pledged to give iPads to 640,000 students. The goal was to help alleviate the burden of having to trot around with a bag full of heavy textbooks, and to push up-to-date technology into the hands of students. In fact, iPad-only classrooms are making headway in countries with strong education systems like the Netherlands.
But now, according to the Los Angeles Times, the United States’ second-largest school district is pivoting in its approach. Rather than rely on iPads alone, district officials “have allowed a group of high schools to choose from among six different laptop computers for their students.”
Indeed, the original iPad rollout, which started last fall at 47 schools, was “beset by challenges, controversy and some mistakes.”
Students immediately deleted security filters so they could freely browse the Internet. The district recalled the devices at several schools and some students never saw them again. Distribution of the devices quickly fell behind schedule. Senior staff also incorrectly characterized terms of the contract–saying, for example, that the district owned the curriculum. Instead, the contract purchased a three-year license and the materials were incomplete during the first year.
One of the problems, pointed out by teachers, is that students are more comfortable on a laptop, especially for writing. One of those laptops currently being tested? A low-cost Google Chromebook.