In December 2012, the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) introduced a proposal to purchase iPads for every student in the school district, amounting for a total of 600,000 units. School district officials and board members promoted the proposal as a key initiative to increase student achievement by “closing the digital divide.” Many individuals criticized the proposal due to its hefty, $1 billion price tag. The LAUSD school board approved the proposal and implemented their plan for the 2013-2014 school year.
Recent news from Mind Shift shows that the LAUSD board and district officials did not think through the planning and implementation processes of this new iPad initiative. The story documents many issues that already came out of the initiative even though it is only one month old. Two major tech-related issues include: students found a loophole in the security software and found ways to get onto non-approved content (i.e., Facebook, Tumblr); and, the Apple iOS 7 update caused issues for school administrators (i.e., filtering security protections) forcing them to collect every iPad to downgrade to iOS 6. Other issues/complaints that surfaced include a rush to implement the program without proper planning, a lack of professional development for educators, and the expensive price tag per iPad ($678 per unit).
This news coincides closely with this week’s articles with case studies about failed IT projects. It is interesting (and sad) to see that organizations still spend billions of dollars on IT projects without doing research to find common mistakes or pitfalls to avoid. As I read the news, I could not help but think of the need for board members to get reputable consultation when voting on budgetary items, especially any that will cost taxpayers billions of dollars. However, I also believe that such a failed effort by a large organization, such as LAUSD, will help (hopefully) other school districts avoid making the same mistakes. Now that I am informed, I will continue to monitor my local school district to make sure they do not fall for the same mistakes or pitfalls.