Officials with the Los Angeles Unified School District have announced that they will permit 27 high schools to select from a set of six different laptop computers to give to students after last year’s amusingly disastrous decision to throw iPads at every teacher and student in the bizarre hope that it would improve the learning environment. Somehow.
This week, the Board of Education for the nation’s second-largest school system will approve the acquisition of one style among the half dozen laptops for the schools, reports the Los Angeles Times. The budget for the initial purchase is $40 million.
In a far cry from last year’s debacle, the new plan has included input from potential users and a plan to test the new devices in the fall to see if they will actually be useful.
Most of the trial computers run on Windows. Three of the six laptop brands which the chosen high schools can select are even pricier than iPads. Another one, a Chromebook, is less expensive.
Delegations of students and teachers tried out the six new laptops — in a process one participant described as similar to speed dating.
The principal at East Los Angeles Performing Arts Academy, Carolyn McKnight, chose a Lenovo for her school. She told the Times she found the Microsoft Surface Pro 2 “really sexy.” However, she was worried “about students losing or breaking” the detachable keyboard.
McNight said the iPads had been unpopular with her students, not least because typing is pointless on the screen — especially during, say, standardized tests.
“Students were more comfortable on the laptop because of the amount of writing and the size of the screen,” she told the paper. “It was really hard to see the whole problem on the iPad.”
The funding for the new computers will come from bonds previously approved by voters.
School district officials are hoping to avoid the humiliation they faced last year when, with essentially no input from teachers, students or taxpayers, they approved a $30-million contract with Apple that both sides hope would eventually grow up to $500 million. (RELATED: L.A. Schools’ Ipad Giveaway Continues To Be A Hilarious, Epic Disaster)
Problems came rapidly, furiously and hilariously.
In October 2013, school district bureaucrats announced that their already-expensive plan to put iPads in the hands of every student – starting at 47 schools – would somehow unexpectedly cost about $100 extra per device. (RELATED: LA Schools’ iPad Giveaway Gets Even More Impractical)
That same month, in a development that could only surprise dimwitted school administrators, several Los Angeles high school officials had to repossess thousands of iPads a week or so after giving them to students because many students had figured out almost immediately how to hack the security settings on the devices. (EPIC FAIL: Los Angeles High Schools Now Confiscate All Free Ipads They Gave Students)
Then, in November, it was revealed at a school board meeting that the district would be required to pay an extra $60 million each year after three years in order to re-license the English and math curriculum software on the devices. The content the district rented is owned by Pearson, a London-based textbook and curriculum behemoth. (RELATED: No App For That: Expensive New Wrinkle In LA Schools’ iPad Fiasco)
School district officials have indicated a cautious optimism that they won’t repeat last year’s comedy of iPad errors.
“The benefit of the new approach is clear,” school board member Monica Ratliff told the Times. “Why would we treat all our students — whether they are a first-grader or a high school freshman — as if they all had the same technology needs? They don’t…. To have a one-device-fits-all approach does not make sense.”