A survey of teachers and administrators regarding the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) iPads project reveals that a majority of teachers do not favor the effort. The survey was conducted by a Board of Education member and employee unions in an effort to determine how the iPad rollout is going and how to improve it.
Only 36% of teachers strongly favored continuing the effort, while 90% of administrators favored the rollout. Overall, there were mixed results. Few people questioned the goal of supplying and properly using up-to-date technology, according to Los Angeles Times.
LAUSD’s goal is to provide iPad to every student and teacher. The nation’s second-largest school district launched a $1 billion project to distribute iPads to its 640,000 students by late 2014.
The rollout, however, has been fraught with complications with security and funding. When the first group of campuses received the tablets this fall, more than 300 students at three high schools immediately removed security filters so they could freely browse the Internet. Mechanical keyboards that will be necessary to use the iPads on new standardized tests are yet to be purchased by officials, and parents have expressed confusion about their responsibility for the devices.
The district pays $768 per iPad to Apple. The higher than retail price includes a limited three-year warranty, a protective case and other features. The bundle of extras is worth at least $200 more than the district paid for each device.
“It’s outrageous, appalling, that we are buying these toys when we don’t have adequate personnel to clean, to supervise,” said Robert J. Moreau, a computer animation teacher at the Roosevelt High School instructor. “Classrooms are overcrowded, and my room has not been swept or mopped in years except by me and the students…. It would be great if the basics were met. I can’t get past that.”
Schools Supt. John Deasy has pushed hard for the iPads, calling it a civil rights imperative to give all students access to technology used by the more affluent.
In addition, questions quickly arose about whether parents are responsible if the devices are lost or stolen. The price of the tablets and the curriculum licensing fees also became issues.
Recently, the Board of Education held a special meeting to discuss project’s issues and ultimately slowed the rollout that began at 47 campuses. The plan now is to add 38 schools by the end of the academic year, and then finish the distribution, after an evaluation, within the next three years.
Although the surveys weren’t scientific samples, “it was really important to get feedback from the principals and teachers who were actually involved in the rollout and see what we could learn,” said school board member Monica Ratliff. She chairs the board’s technology committee, and her office helped prepare the surveys.
“We learned … that people do tend to like them. Students do find them engaging, but there have been some serious glitches,” Ratliff said. “I was surprised by the number of teacher comments that mentioned difficulty with the wireless connectivity.”
According to United Teachers Los Angeles, 15% of the eligible teachers took part in their survey. The union blamed the low participation on a lack of time and the number of questions.