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Los Angeles school district pulls plug on iPads, moves to laptops

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.

by MacNN Staff



  1. prl99

    Mac Enthusiast

    Joined: 03-24-09

    So instead of having only one vendor to support (HW&SW), LAUSD will have at least four hardware vendors and two software vendors to support and manage. Great call by people who haven't got a clue on how to build a system for schools. One size device doesn't fit everyone's need but I don't see any Macs in the list so what which device will be used by the creative students, a chromebook? Certainly not a Surface.

  1. I-ku-u

    Junior Member

    Joined: 08-08-11

    Funny how the deal started to go south due to circumvention of security measures. Apple's iOS system is well apparent as the most difficult to circumvent, so the only rational justification to switch away from iPads that I can see is if LA thought 'well, if we can't get it with iPads, then we can't get it anywhere, so give up worrying about it'.

  1. Charles Martin

    MacNN Editor

    Joined: 08-04-01

    The "security system" referred to in the article is, just for clarification, the "porn-blocking" (etc) filtering software set up by the district, and has nothing to do with the security of Apple's (or anyone else's) devices.

  1. Arne_Saknussemm

    Forum Regular

    Joined: 04-05-11

    "which device will be used by the creative students, a chromebook? Certainly not a Surface."

    Regarding the creative students prl99 mentions, a chromebook is indeed a poor choice; but the Microsoft Surface not only runs any full desktop application, from demanding 3D programs like Maya or Alias Automotive (albeit not with the best 3D hardware acceleration) to leading 2D illustration applications like Photoshop or Illustrator. On top of this, the built in inductive pressure sensitive stylus (Wacom technology) is the standard tool for digital painting, in any OS PC or Mac.

  1. avgeek75

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 02-20-14

    The Surface 3 is NTrig tech, not Wacom. NTrig is known to be incompatible with the Adobe apps.

    This must be a government program. Only they could make such poor decisions while managing to waste millions of dollars, and still manage to not be held accountable for them. This will be an epic failure. If they thought the iPads were a security issue, just wait until those students start circumventing the Windows and Chrome devices. "Hello, Mrs. Jones, could you please ask Johnny to stop posting pornography and NSA secrets on the stadium scoreboard during homecoming. Thanks."

    The earlier post regarding IT support of the heterogenous OS environment is definitely going to be a factor, as well. The students might as well go back to Trapper-Keepers, Big Chiefs and #2 pencils.

  1. coffeetime

    Senior User

    Joined: 11-15-06

    The thick Surface 3 contains an almost full blown laptop board and is using i3 chip...etc. Yes, sure it can run desktop level apps with this spec. For the same price/spec might as well get a real laptop. The beauty of iPad is ease of use iOS plus iTuneU.

  1. coffeetime

    Senior User

    Joined: 11-15-06

    I think Apple need to come up with a SchoolKit API or something. Like the HealthKit API.

  1. Foe Hammer

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 02-16-05

    Some Windows weenie spread the usual FUD (and some brand new FUD) to get the money. When the LAUSD (pronounced "loused") figures out just how LAUSD up things have become, they'll look for another solution. But they will do their best not to go right back to iPads lest they have to admit they were wrong. They will eventually go back, but like corporations and other organizations that "think" this way, they will have to shred millions and millions of dollars first.

  1. panjandrum

    Dedicated MacNNer

    Joined: 12-01-04

    I've supported educational-networks (and small business networks) on-and-off since the late 80s. Until recently I would have agreed that the decision of phase-out the iPads in favor of a variety of devices was crazy. Today, however, it doesn't surprise me at all. To try and keep this (fairly) short; the essence of the problem is that Apple is no longer willing to supply the "everything works" Apple experience on educational networks. In fact, what they supply, unless your school has all new equipment, is "nothing really works". Since the schools can't get a good experience by sticking with Apple hardware and software, they now have no reason whatsoever for sticking with Apple systems, and this district's move echoes what I'm hearing from from the education sector in my area. The primary issue is that Apple has abandoned hardware which schools still use and still NEED to use for budget reasons. (The following is mostly taken from a comment I wrote concerning the Aperture/iPhoto issue): Apple seems to have begun assuming that the Education sector has limitless funds. Because this is not true, schools are now stuck with computers unable to run the current version of the Mac OS (and thus current versions of iPhoto, iWork, etc. etc.) and computers unable to run older versions of the Mac OS, on the same network, with the same networked open directory (networked home-folders) environment. Guess what happens when a user logs into a system using Mavericks and launches the current iPhoto... It updates their iPhoto library. Now what happens when they go back to a system stuck on Lion or ML? Yep, now they can't access their Photos. What happens when Apple drops iPhoto altogether? Now take iWork instead. Mavericks is needed to run the latest version on the Mac. The latest version is necessary to maintain compatibility with iWork for iOS. That's a HUGE problem for the under-funded education sector, where machines unable to run Mavericks are extremely common. Suddenly staff and students can't open their iWork docs (easily) on their computers. I suppose Apple thinks the end result with be that these schools will walk out to their money-trees, pick a few tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars, and update all their systems, but the reality-distortion field doesn't actually stretch that far... Instead, these institutions are simply moving away from Apple software altogether in order to maintain compatibility across all the systems. That's already been happening for several years. Now what I'm hearing is "we think we want to just go with chrome books", and "let's just get some budget laptops". Why? Because Apple has literally driven them away from Apple products in droves, and now they are using Gimp and Libre Office and online resources such as the (icky, IHMO) Google Docs instead of iPhoto and iWork and and and... They can't get compatibility on their networks anymore by sticking to Apple hardware and software. Since Apple can't (well, WON'T) provide the historic "Apple experience" any more, they have zero interest in sticking with Apple products...

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