With half of the school year over and about 650,000 students in Los Angeles’s Unified School District (LAUSD) still without their own iPads, part of a $1.3 billion program by the district, the school board has resorted to Google Chromebooks to meet their needs.
The strategy to blanket schools with Apple iPads began in 2013 and attempted to bring equality to students from all income groups via uniform access to the benefits of top class technology. The program, however, lacked proper planning from the beginning and has met a series of pitfalls, resulting in its suspension and complete termination. The iPads were delivered without proper internet settings and input adjustments, the online protection software tailored by Pearson to regulate student browsing was easily bypassed. As well as receiving a fair amount of criticism from parents, the country’s largest school expansion program was also scrutinized for its bidding procedure of purchase. It had also factored in the resignation of LAUSD superintendent John Deasy in October.
Annie Gilbertson of nprEd said that the board have taken a different approach:
With over 112,500 iPads already purchased, the board has now moved to a more reliant laptop option; purchasing 8,394 Google Chromebooks
IDC information by Buzzfeed reported that Chromebook sales have topped that of iPads for the third quarter of the year.
The Los Angeles Times also reported that the expense of curriculum makes the Chromebook more attractive:
“The curriculum for the iPads adds about $200 per device for a three-year license. The price of the iPads is $768 apiece while the Chromebooks with curriculum are anticipated to be $100 to $200 much less.”
With a cut in expenses by 20 percent, the Chromebook seems like a better substitute for the 600,000 students by the district.
Taking into account the the benefits to students tech businesses are striving to achieve, the Chromebook has been identified as being more flexible for online use and cloud based application utilities, while the iPad specialized in apps more directed to a range of needs and scenarios.
The project’s expensive contract is continuing to be investigated by the FBI, upon confiscation of 20 boxes of documents in December. The old contract has been entirely scrapped and a new deal is being negotiated in its place. Meanwhile, LAUSD has sought out the services of an outside law firm regarding the matter, upon call from new superintendent Ramon C. Cortines for experienced guidance. Cortines has promised continued cooperation between the district and federal agencies, writes Howard Blume of LA Times.
Several safety measures have been taken for children already handed an iPadamid worries from parents that it may make them hot targets for thieves outside school.