Learning from the Los Angeles edtech failure

January 29, 2015 6:00 pm
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In June 2013, the Los Angeles School Board of Education signed a $30 million iPad deal with Apple, with the intent of providing iPads to all of the students in the district.  As Weiss says, the program was “envisioned as a way to give students experience with technology to help them get jobs and further their education.” The board was to look for additional funding in order to purchase the complete set. This was to prepare for the upcoming computer-based testing that the entire state was to use. A year later, the board decided to allow high schools to choose from a small selection of laptops. In early December of 2014, the district finally decided to cancel the project.

What went wrong?

There were criticisms on initially offering only iPads to schools. One principal, Carolyn McKnight, tried to use the iPads for standardized tests. However, students had trouble reading the whole problem on that screen size. Some students also discovered ways to circumvent security measures placed on the iPads, which allowed them to install games and use them for more than school purposes.

A major flaw with this initiative was it heavy dependence on one proprietary device along with the curriculum created by one company offering digital learning resources. Some schools have stated that they “have not developed plans for how the devices will be used to support learning. […] As a result, there is no common vision for how devices should be shifting learning and teaching within schools, making measuring impact difficult, if even possible” (source). The board also failed to provide significant amounts of training to fully utilize the technology. Students and teachers were simply given the device and were supposed to just use them. There were accounts of how the Los Angeles School Board didn’t even follow Apple’s deployment guide.

A study shows iPads had improved research and writing, but the effectiveness for math skills has yet to be proven.  Without a clear direction, everyone was left clueless and confused. Not everyone learns the same way, hence technology which improves how we teach should be flexible.

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This post was written by Bernice Go