The Los Angeles Unified School District’s grand experiment with Apple’s iPad has come to an end. The Los Angeles Times reports that the LAUSD has halted the rollout of Apple’s tablets just a year after it chose to spend millions of dollars on a pilot program to test out the iPad’s effectiveness as a teaching tool.
Since its inception, the program has been plagued with problems. The devices weren’t properly set up, which allowed students to delete the settings designed to restrict the iPad’s use, and led the district to recall the tablets to reconfigure them. Teachers have said that students preferred to use other devices to take state tests, because the iPad’s screen was difficult to read.
GeekWire columnist Frank Catalano called the rollout a “Dumbo Drop” that failed to integrate the technology into the classroom.
What’s more, the Times uncovered emails and a draft report about the program that show LAUSD officials working behind the scenes to in an apparent effort to help education company Pearson land the contract to provide curriculum for teachers to use alongside the tablets.
A district attorney has already looked at the emails and chose not to file criminal charges. But the fight over the contract isn’t over: the teachers union called for an investigation into the contracting process, and L.A. Unified’s Inspector General said that he will be conducting additional interviews.
At the time the contract was voted on, Microsoft made an impassioned case for the district to consider its Surface tablet. That fell on deaf ears as the school board voted 6-0 to award the contract to Apple and Pearson.
Now, the LAUSD is investigating a pilot program that will involve the purchase of 18,000 laptops, which means it’s time for Microsoft to try again. Apple’s laptops are reportedly in the running, but it seems like the Surface Pro 3 – which packs components typically used in a laptop into a tablet-sized package – would also be a possible choice.