EdTech Showdown? Apple & Los Angeles Unified School District

If you haven't heard about this kerfuffle yet, buckle in. This edtech story has as many twists and turns as an M. Night Shyamalan movie.

In 2013, the LAUSD (Los Angeles Unified School District) announced a partnership with Apple and Pearson to purchase more than 640,000 iPads pre-loaded with Pearson's educational content.

In August 2014, the program was canceled. Apparently, the software didn't work too well, the digital content seemed "rushed," and security settings were tweaked (kids these days).

Since the pilot deployment, the program has been on/off/renewed/cancelled/back out to bid, and even augmented with Chromebooks. LAUSD's superintendent, John Deasey, resigned last October.

Here's what David Holmquist, the LAUSD's district attorney, wrote to Apple's general counsel: "While Apple and Pearson promised a state-of-the-art technological solution for ITI implementation, they have yet to deliver it." (The Instructional Technology Initiative, ITI, is the district's revised name for its iPad program.) If it doesn't receive the requested multimillion-dollar refund, the LAUSD will take Apple to court.

What's the takeaway for tech managers in educational markets? As LA taxpayers seethe, tech skeptics cringe, and the LAUSD waits for its refund and prepares to reboot its edtech offerings, this should serve as a cautionary tale for technology teams large and small. If you are on the team tasked with a large-scale tech deployment, what is the bidding process? How are you conducting the end-user needs assessment? What's your pilot program and long-term vision? What's your mobile device management strategy? Is the technology compliant with ADA standards? What are your security protocols for the ever-changing BYOD space? If it is a 1:1 roll-out, how is tech support going to work? Is a faculty quorum required for new BYOD or mobile tech buy?

Read more about the uproar here.

Margot Douaihy, Ph.D.

Margot Douaihy, Ph.D., is a lecturer at Franklin Pierce University.