Los Angeles school district puts $1 billion iPad rollout on hold

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The Los Angeles Unified School District decided to blow its entire $1 billion tech budget on an iPad for every student last year, but after security hacks and supply issues got the program off to a rocky start, the district has decided to adjust course and let on a few challengers.

Officials at the U.S.’s second-largest school district have decided to allow a group of high schools to choose between six devices instead of the iPad, effectively putting distribution of Apple’s tablet on hold district-wide.

Each of the 27 high schools in the program is authorized to choose and purchase one of six different laptops for their students, reports the Los Angeles Times. Picks for new devices were made last Friday and the Board of Education is scheduled to review the contracts, which are not to exceed $40 million per order, today.

After launching the iPad program with tremendous urgency, LAUSD board member Monica Ratcliff said the changes allow schools more flexibility for students.

“The benefit of the new approach is clear. 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.”

Two schools have already chosen the Lenovo Yoga Touch over iPad, one picked Dell’s Latitude E7240 and two scooped up the Microsoft Surface Pro 2. One principal even went so far as to call the Surface “really sexy,” though she’s rightly worried how the students will like its loseable/breakable/detachable keyboard.

A couple other campuses have chosen Google Chromebooks, which the only option likely to cost the same amount as the iPad, though negotiations on final prices are still in process.

  • johnnygoodface

    …”To have a one-device-fits-all approach does not make sense”… Really? How about standardization instead.. Now they’re heading for nightmares for IT support!!! Good luck “managers”!

    • The Gnome

      I love how they preach student choice, yet it seems each school is still selecting their own standard. I’m all about choice, but thats just dumb. Now you get some principal deciding the Surface is “sexy” because he’s an Apple hater, and students suffer. Just look at what Delta did with their pilots. Nothing like forcing crap technology on people. On the other hand, Apple has to stop acting like people will just chose the iPad – these other companies are lobbying hard and getting these visible wins.. not because of a better device, but probably because they took someone out to lunch and gave them some free product.

      • Dasher

        The iPad CANNOT do what a proper laptop can. It is NOT the best choice for a school. An iPad is used for consuming media and not learning how to create it. It has nothing to do with a principal ‘hating’ apple. Geez, you Apple Evangelists are killing me.

    • Eric

      Actually, all of the listed computers/hybrids run Windows 8. So as far as the IT people are concerned when it comes to maintaining software it is standardized.

      • Nick_Germ

        Chromebooks = chromeos

  • delay

    Don’t districts determine the curriculum city wide. By splintering devices they essentially end up with basic web browsers and PDFs as the only option that will display on all of those various devices. What a bunch of idiots.

    • Eric

      When did any Windows 8 PC become limited to a web browser and PDF viewer? I’m pretty sure the school can install what ever program or App they want.

      • delay

        The problem is you have different schools with different setups. So you have to make your curriculum so it supports windows and ipad and chrome books and whatever else they throw in the mix.

        The only thing that will run on all of those machines are very basic web apps and pdf’s because the win computers will use IE which is a pretty terrible browser to design web content for. Since you fragment devices you get the worst experience of all of the combined devices…
        They should have stuck with the ipads in my opinion. They could have bought keyboard cases if typing was a big problem. If they were going to switch to something else they should have switched everything so at least they could take advantage of the strength of the selected platform. They all have there strengths and weaknesses, for education I think ipads have the most strengths especially factoring in the price of the device. Surface pro’s are quite a bit more than ipads with keyboard cases and the educational app experience isn’t that great on surface pros.

      • Eric

        We’ll that’s not exactly the situation. IPads are no longer being considered by the LA school district. The only options schools have are going to be hybrid devices or traditional notebook form factor with a touch screen. Every one of these computers can run chrome, even if Google has let the performance become really bad on Windows machines. These can all meet very similar needs.

        In the end the students complained about screen size, typing and the inability to do more than one thing at once. But the schools have not decided on anything solid yet. They are trying out the different form factors to see where to go next. The only decision so far is that it won’t be with Apple.

        And I don’t know about you, but my experience is that IE is not a terrible browser, and for a touch or battery life it is un paralleled. Even all the iPad users I’ve shown IE to are impressed and dumbfounded at how well it works.
        And as far as educational experience, students don’t learn from apps primarily. They learn from teachers.

        But in my experience as a student and teacher a surface Pro + OneNote is the best combination for middle-school to college level.

  • AAPL_@_$101_Is_A_Done_Deal_:)

    I think Apple really blew a good opportunity in this case over such a stupid reason that probably could have been easily fixed with better security measures. Too bad. This has been a high-profile project and Apple has received a lot of bad press for whatever reasons. It really makes Apple look incompetent.

    • Eric

      At 9-5 mac the article went into further detail. It wasn’t just the security features. The students in the first test schools were very unsatisfied with the touch keyboard and no mouse for doing homework or entering notes.

  • drdrb

    “its loseable/breakable/detachable keyboard.” at least it has a keyboard! which is btw detachable! .. hmm or should they get idiotic cover keyboards for their ipads.. tough one!

  • http://www.designstrategies.com Len Williams

    The fault here isn’t Apple’s. School boards and city governments are HUGELY political, with many managers trying to make names for themselves simply for recognition. Fragmenting the schools by using different devices is ridiculous because they’ll each have different software needs, different IT support, with the end result being further confusion and more cost. It would have been better if the school boards had decided on one device to simplify administration of the program. The idea that “one size fits all” is a bad idea is ridiculous and most likely stated by someone who knows nothing about the capabilities and adaptability of computers and tablets. This billion dollar program will become a nightmare of additional costs, fragmented programs and confusion. They don’t necessarily need to go with Apple products, but standardizing on just one product such as the Chromebook or Lenovo laptop would have been better than the “choose your own device” option.

  • iamhe

    I never met anyone in the education system that knows enough, or is smart enough to make good technology decisions……. they have the wrong people making these decisions…….. they are not only buying a device, they are buying teams of programmers that work for the manufacturer, and a company with a history, and a commitment…. to go off brand on such a large investment in money, and a large investment in the future of these kids is stupid. Look at the dumb comment, “different aged children have different needs and one device for all does not make sense”

    Idiots! the device is a platform, it is the apps you put on the device that address the needs….. all education programs are moving to internet interactivity.

    soon most of a child’s education, will come from computers not teachers…..

    a few good math programs will replace thousands of math teachers……

    I have seen educational software evolve…… it is getting better and better, and kids can progress at their own rate…… schools will ultimately be for evaluations, remedials, social participation/learning, community service, and dancing……

  • Not Debating — Informing

    Even the most casual observer will recognize that this was motivated by pressure from Apple competitors. A sole source procurement of something this huge is bound to be challenged, and it was even investigated by the District Attorney (who found no evidence of criminal wrongdoing, by the way). It’s not about getting the best product for students; it’s about avoiding lawsuits.

    If you’ve got concerns about security, as was claimed, you sure don’t address it by distributing Android tablets, which are basically just rectangular petri dishes for malware.

  • Doc_Sportello

    A few additional things.

    The $1 billion program is actually $1.3 billion. Of that, $800 million is to install and upgrade wifi networks. (The LAUSD has around 660 schools).

    http://www.scpr.org/blogs/education/2014/02/11/15811/la-schools-wifi-networks-to-cost-about-800-million/
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LAUSD#List_of_schools_and_properties

    The remaining $500 million (38%) is not just being spent on iPads. It also includes the curriculum from Pearson ($67 per year), Griffin Survivor cases ($32 each on Amazon) and two years of AppleCare ($160 (if purchased with 20% educational discount)).

    http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-former-schools-chief-ipad-illegal-20140227-story.html

    If you crunch the numbers, the cost per 32 GB iPad Air is around $437, which is a discount of about 27% from the $599 list price.

    There’s been a lot of hullabaloo about the “iPad contract,” but most of the money isn’t going to Apple.

  • http://jorn.knuttila.com jorn

    Please talk to the Saint Paul, MN school district about this.

  • bawl

    Apple blew this big time. First Apple doesn’t discount the iPad much. There is zero discount unless you purchase in groups of 10 and then it is only $10 per iPad. This deal they worked out with L.A. didn’t offer discounts until they took delivery of 520,000 units. If you figure in $489 for the iPad, $297 for three years of Apple Care and $30 for a case that is $816 per iPad. Apple didn’t have a MDM tool so you also needed to connect them up to a Macbook running Apple Configurator and a USB hub allowing you to setup 30 at a time. Not only does that add to the per unit cost but takes a ton of professional time. Having to hand configure the iPads is why when the initial security error was found they had to collect them all to correct it. Finally Apple should have had an engineer on site to handle the deployment and testing for the simple reason this was a national story.
    I think the iPad is great for early childhood and special education. Middle schools students need something more along the lines of a laptop just for the amount of writing they do. High School students should bring whatever they want. Most professionals that use an iPad don’t have just an iPad. It is a device that provides convenience and supplements what they do. High School students should be given the task and allow them to perform/solve it with whatever tools they feel is necessary. Talk about 21st century schools!
    Say what you want but Google has made a great product with the Chromebook. A device for around $300 completely managed through the web that will let kids do 90% of their school work. Sure not great with video but research, writing communicating and collaborating are all things it does well and that is the vast majority of what students need to do.

    • Eric

      I agree at the $300 dollar price point. I also think the Asus T100 hybrid is a bit more compelling. Googles Chrome book OS isn’t as useful as a full featured PC OS. And then there is not price advantage.

      • bawl

        The price advantage is on the back end. The Asus running windows 8 can do a lot more true but it has all the same issues a normal PC would. You only have to touch a chromebook once and it is setup and you don’t even have to do it. For $15 per unit they will ship them pre-enrolled. All the management is done through the web. iPads are very costly when you figure in that you have to buy a MacBook, and a cart with power and a USB hub and you are limited to 30 units at a time. Apple will help with their MDM solution but only if you are doing a 1:1 deployment. No wonder Chromebooks are eating Apple’s lunch. Most students want a $2,000 MacBook but really only need a $300 Chromebook.

  • Chuck McGinley

    Anyone in here who is going to comment on this, please just go purchase EO Wilson’s Life on Earth in the iBooks store and then tell me Tablets are not going to be the future of school systems. BTW it’s only about 5 bucks!! (But I think it might be free now). It’s just incredible. Especially the interactive parts about genetics and virus. Just a complete work of art.

    Sure Full feature PCs are needed for some things like coding. CAD etc. But as far as General learning is concerned, this one book shows you how amazing the learning experience can be. Add to that you don’t lug around huge books in a book bag anymore. My daughter is headed to Catholic High school and we just set her iPad up for school in September. From my reviewing of the courseware it’s incredible!

    BTW there is a clear code of ethics the students sign into even though the equipment is their own. It is after all the school’s network.

  • ProformaArtista

    Pro-PC partisans used to want nothing but PCs because, you know, that’s what people used on the job and so a practical teaching tool, but now they refuse to acknowledge that businesses use iPads, so now they push all kinds of weird unpopular, non-iPad devices in the name of “one size does not fit all.” *LOL

    But we know what’s really going on: They are begging to get in on the action, showing their irrational and partisan hate for Apple products.

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Buster HeinBuster Hein is Cult of Mac's Senior News Editor and lives in Phoenix, Arizona. Twitter: @bst3r.

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