After a number of setbacks, the Los Angeles School District has decided to put an indefinite hold on a program that would have equipped each student with an iPad. The $1 billion dollar initiative was recently halted after students found a way to break through security meant to block things such as Twitter and Facebook. But with officials worried students will continue to use the iPad for play instead of work, the program is being put on the back burner—for now. Over 25,000 devices have been handed out; the original plan was to roll out Apple’s tablet to 650,000 student by late 2014.
Once initial supplies were handed out, students quickly found a way past security, using the devices to access social media when instructed not to do so. Students were immediately banned from taking the tablets home, and officials ultimately felt the devices would be too distracting if used improperly by students. The goal of the program was to provide students, most of which were from low-income families, the opportunity to learn with new tools, and be part of the biggest roll out of mobile computers to schoolchildren. But the temptation to misuse the devices proved to be too much.
For now, the program is being delayed by a year, with a vote to take place in mid-2014 about how to move forward. Some of the faculty have suggested students be equipped with laptops instead of tablets.
“It is certainly ambitious and I have to credit them for that, said Richard Culatta, the U.S. Department of Education’s director of the office of educational technology, adding that such a program was always going to run into speed bumps,
There’s certainly potential for tablet use in the classroom. But with kids often more clever with technology than adults, it was always a big risk putting such technology in so many young hands. Checking social media isn’t the worst thing in the world, but the good graces of the L.A. school district was obviously being abused by students, and underlines why sometimes people can’t have nice things.