L.A. schools’ iPad giveaway continues to be a hilarious, epic disaster

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Only 36 percent of Los Angeles public school teachers who responded to a survey strongly favor continuing a troubled and very costly plan to put iPads in the hands of every student.

Employee unions representing teachers and administrators along with a Los Angeles Unified School District board member conducted the anonymous survey, reports the Los Angeles Times.

About 15 percent of teachers who have endured the iPad program rollout participated in the survey.

Despite promises by administrators that wireless connections would be sufficient, many teachers pointed to persistent infrastructure glitches. Almost 75 percent said they or their students had experienced serious connectivity problems.

“The system keeps going down,” explained one teacher, “which makes it impossible to utilize the iPads in the way that the district desired.”

A majority of the teachers who responded to the survey complained about problems with storage, applications, signing on and ongoing security issues.

A majority also said they and their students were using the iPads — which cost a whopping $768 each — just three hours or less each week.

Why aren’t teachers using the iPads in class? The survey suggests that they don’t really know how.

Training has been minimal. Apple, the manufacturer, provided one day of iPad training. Pearson, the London-based textbook company that provides the still-just-partially available curriculum for the devices, provided only two days of training.

School district officials told the Times they now realize that teachers need additional training on how to use iPads and how to manage classrooms of students who are using iPads. They have also recommended giving teachers iPads six months before students receive them.

The great Los Angeles public schools giveaway has been a disaster from the start. This fall, when students received their tablets at the first few high schools chosen for the project, hundreds of students figured out almost immediately how to hack the security settings so they could surf the internet and download music. Another 71 kids ostensibly lost their iPads just as immediately.

As a result of that hot mess, every student who got an iPad had to give it back temporarily. (RELATED: Los Angeles high schools now confiscate all free iPads they gave students)

Also, the school district must pay an extra $60 million each year starting three years from now in order to re-license the English and math curriculum software on the devices. (RELATED: Expensive new wrinkle in LA schools’ iPad fiasco)

John Deasy, the LAUSD superintendent, has called the billion-dollar iPad project a civil rights obligation that is necessary to give poor students the same access to technology that wealthier kids have.

Some teachers say it’s a misuse of limited resources, however.

“Classrooms are overcrowded, and my room has not been swept or mopped in years except by me and the students,” Roosevelt High School computer animation teacher Robert J. Moreau told the Times. “It would be great if the basics were met. I can’t get past that.”

Moreau expects that schools will eventually pay a price for the boondoggle.

“The next time we cry for money,” he told the Times, “this is going to be brought up as a big waste.”

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