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I BELIEVE I’m as moral as the next guy. However, I read an item in the Orange County Register, October 6, 2013, with decidedly mixed feelings. It’s titled “District iPad Plan Backfires,” and reminds me that kids will be kids, figures don’t lie, but liars can figure. Not necessarily in that order.
The Los Angeles Unified School District is the second largest in the country; only New York City’s is larger. According to the article, the LAUSD has “to reboot a $1 billion plan to put an iPad in the hands of each of its 650,000 students after an embarrassing glitch emerged when the first round of tablets went out.”
Before describing the perceived problem, let’s do some analysis. Yes, that’s “b” billion, quite astounding in that the entire 2012-2013 LAUSD budget is $6.78 billion.
Also, way back in the 2007-2008 school year, the district recorded 694,288 students, 45,473 teachers and 38,494 other employees. It’s odd that the school population dropped since then. But we’ll let this pass.
Until we analyze $1 billion for 650,000 iPads, which works out to $1538.46 per tablet. Are the Apple Genii screwing the LAUSD or what?
Aha, later in the article, it says “every student and teacher.” Using the 2007-2008 numbers, this totals 739,761 iPads, thus dropping the price per tablet to $1351.79. Give them to the janitors and all, and it’s still $1268.63 a pop.
My personal Crap Detector needle is bouncing off the peg, but there’s more to come.
The “glitch” encountered with the initial batch of iPads and kids was that “Instead of solving math problems or doing English homework, as administrators envisioned, more than 300 LAUSD students promptly cracked the security settings and started tweeting, posting to Facebook and playing video games.”
Renee Hobbs, director of the Harrington School of Communications and Media at the University of Rhode Island, is quoted as saying, “It doesn’t seem like there was much planning that went into this strategy.”
Yep, copy that.
What’s more, she says it’s critical to spend time drawing students into a discussion on using iPads responsibly… and installing a firewall that can’t be easily breached.
Students said the security setup was so lame that, citing the Register, “even the most tech-challenged parent could have gotten past it.” All it took was clicking on iPad Settings, deleting the LAUSD profile and setting up an Internet connection.
My view is it’s no big deal. Hold the kids responsible for iPad care—and, of course, the required homework!—and, if they choose, let them learn about computer security as well.
I would have done this in a Cleveland East High minute. ds
© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2013