What Can Colleges Learn from the LAUSD Epic iPad Fail? - AvNetwork.com

What Can Colleges Learn from the LAUSD Epic iPad Fail?

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Are you smarter than a 5th grader? That's the title of a TV show, but it’s also a question that education technology managers should ask when their schools decide to begin providing students with iPads and other tablets.

That’s one takeaway from the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), which made news earlier this year for its plan to provide all 640,000-plus students with an iPad by next year. At the time, this blog used LAUSD to highlight the importance of calculating total cost of ownership (TCO), which goes beyond just replacing damaged and lost tablets.

Now LAUSD is back in the news for something that everyone should have seen coming: Some students quickly figured out how to bypass a feature that was supposed to prevent them from using unauthorized apps, sites and services such as Facebook and YouTube. Where there’s a will, there’s a way, and the way is by deleting their personal profile. One LAUSD senior told The Los Angeles Times that students started to look for ways to defeat the security mechanism because "they took them home and they can't do anything with them."

The hack doesn’t work when iPads are connected to the district’s WLAN. LAUSD is considering two options for extending its policies to student homes and public places that don’t rely on user profiles. One would lock the iPads so they can use only pre-installed school materials provided by Pearson. The other, which would take longer to implement, is to deploy a new policy-enforcement solution.

For now, LAUSD has halted home use of iPads, and it could pause the rollout altogether. "I'm guessing this is just a sample of what will likely occur on other campuses once this hits Twitter, YouTube or other social media sites explaining to our students how to breach or compromise the security of these devices," LAUSD Police Chief Steven Zipperman said in a confidential memo to senior staff obtained by The Times. "I want to prevent a 'runaway train' scenario when we may have the ability to put a hold on the roll-out."

The district has supported faculty and staff iPads for more than three years. So another takeaway is that although that kind of extensive hands-on experience is helpful when preparing for a student rollout, it’s a mistake to assume that the only major difference is scale. Just the opposite. For example, when students hack their devices, the backlash from politicians, pundits and taxpayers will be bigger and louder. There also may be legal and regulatory ramifications, such as violating the strings attached to Children’s Internet Protection Act grants used to fund student tablets.

Watch how Apple responds. It’s already sold about 10 million iPads to schools, a market that’s been one of its strongholds almost since the company’s inception. LAUSD is a big customer, but more importantly, the district also is an opportunity for Apple to quickly step in with a fast, cost-effective solution that all existing and prospective customers can implement.

Our recent Q&A with several education technology managers identified other ways that Apple can make the iPad and other products a better fit for classrooms and beyond. “iOS devices are designed as single-user devices, and it seems whenever there is any management of these devices, you are going against the grain,” said Troy Bagwell, Decatur (Texas) Independent School District director of technology. Half a continent away, no doubt his peers at LAUSD would agree.


Lessons Learned from Apple EdTech Deployments: Part 2

This multi-part blog series looks at how higher- and secondary-ed technology managers are accommodating faculty and student use of iPads, Apple TV, and other Apple devices in classrooms. In part 2, our panel of experts looks at durability, security, and what they’d like Apple to do to make their lives easier. Many thanks to George Saltsman, an Abilene Christian University professor who recommended the panelists.

Lessons Learned from Apple EdTech Deployments: Part 1

School districts have purchased more than 10 million iPads so far, and colleges such as Abilene Christian University have been using iOS devices for five years or more. All of those deployments add up to plenty of opportunities for schools that haven’t deployed Apple gear to learn what to expect.

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Don’t Overlook TCO for Ed Tech

When shopping for projectors, savvy education technology managers know to ferret out the total cost of ownership (TCO) rather than fixating on the lowest price. That’s why vendors are increasingly offering projectors with hybrid designs, self-cleaning filters, and light sources that last 20,000 hours or longer. The time spent calculating genuine TCO can really pay off.

What Can the iPad Do For Us? by Gary Hall

Like most technophiles, I've been intrigued by the Apple iPad. Well, at least after I stopped laughing at the name. My first reaction was skepticism...Oh great, another electronic reader. Sorry, but the Sony Libre and the Amazon Kindle are not that exciting to me. I'm an AV guy. I like images on my displays, not text.