LA schools provide free iPads despite theft, hacking problems

iPad-LA
Photo Credit LATimes.com

The goal is for every student in the Los Angeles Unified School District to be given an iPad tablet computer as part of an exciting $1 billion initiative to improve learning.

But school officials at the nation’s second-largest school system had no idea how quickly the learning would occur.

It took exactly one week for nearly 300 students at one high school to hack through security so they could surf the Web on their new school-issued iPads, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Students began to tinker with the security lock on the tablets because “they took them home and they can’t do anything with them,” senior Alfredo Garcia told the Times.

In the wake of the revelation that students were using the tablets for personal use, district officials have halted home use of the iPads until further notice. A move that somewhat defeats the point of having the devices which are intended to be supplemental learning tools.

School officials plan to give out 640,000 iPads, with about 14,000 distributed so far this year.

Another problem that is raising concerns about the plan to distribute devices to all students is missing iPads.

As part of a pilot program, at least 71 iPads went missing last year, with a cost of just over $48,000, according to the Daily Mail. Most of the missing devices — worth $678 each — disappeared from one school.

There is apparently contradictory information about who is responsible for the financial cost of a missing iPad, according to the Daily Caller. And if students are expected to pay the cost for missing devices, how do low-income families meet that obligation?

“Are we really going to be in a position of taking their textbook away?” asked Monica Ratliff, a member of the district’s board of education, who added that the iPads were meant to replace traditional textbooks.

Nevertheless, officials are forging ahead, having told the Times that since the thefts, new security measures were implemented to keep track of the tablets.

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Tom Tillison

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