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L.A. School District's 30,000 iPads May Come With Free Lock-In

timothy posted about a year ago | from the crony-capitalism-in-its-native-habitat dept.

Education 232

lpress writes "The Los Angeles Unified School District will spend $30 million over the next two years on iPads for 30,000 students. Coverage of the announcement has focused on Apple winning over other tablets, but that is not the key point. The top three proposals each included an app to deliver Pearson's K-12 Common Core System of Courses along with other third-party educational apps. The Common Core curriculum is not yet established, but many states are committed to it, starting next year. The new tablets and the new commitment to the Common Core curriculum will arrive around the same time, and busy faculty (and those hired to train them) will adopt the Pearson material. The tablets will be obsolete in a few years and the hardware platform may change, but lock-in to Pearson's default curriculum may last for generations."

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Crippled crap... (1, Insightful)

mystikkman (1487801) | about a year ago | (#44141385)

iPads are okay for grandmas, but giving them to kids is just mind numbing. With a real PC or even a netbook or a hybrid, atleast the kid can do more as get tired of Angry Birds. Not all will, but some will definitely venture out to programming and alternate OSes, even if only in a VM. Give them an iPad and it's nothing more than a glorified iPod Touch. Not to mention that the lack of a physical keyboard discourages thoughtful writing of even a few sentences and instead encourages texts-like writing. The Chromebook isn't much better either.

Re:Crippled crap... (1)

motorhead (82353) | about a year ago | (#44141433)

Complete waste of money.

Thought You All Would Like To Know! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44141497)

I just took a great big healthy greasy nasty stinking SHIT.

I hope I wiped thoroughly enough. Don't want any skid marks on my draws.

Re:Thought You All Would Like To Know! (0)

mystikkman (1487801) | about a year ago | (#44141789)

- Sent from my iPad(TM) ?

Repair (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44141453)

I'm just jealous of whoever gets the repair business!

Re:Crippled crap... (3, Interesting)

sensationull (889870) | about a year ago | (#44141455)

Yeap, also a nice little monoculture for Apple to exploit too, next up government subsidies for Apple directly, have they found oil somewhere. Meet the new MS of old, just twice as nasty.

Re:Crippled crap... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44141511)

Yeap, also a nice little monoculture for Apple to exploit too, next up government subsidies for Apple directly, have they found oil somewhere. Meet the new MS of old, just twice as nasty.

No joke. I don't like MS and I never have. But at least MS didn't monopolize the entire software stack. In my opinion Apple is far worse than MS ever was. They not only lock the OS to the hardware, you also have to go through their walled gardens to get most of the useful software. MS didn't lock down the hardware, at one time you could get Windows on other architectures like Xeon and Alpha, and MS doesn't demand that so much third-party software must be purchased through them.

Re:Crippled crap... (1)

wagnerrp (1305589) | about a year ago | (#44141791)

You can still run Windows on Xeons. It's not another architecture, just x86. Did you mean Itanium?

Re:Crippled crap... (4, Insightful)

mi (197448) | about a year ago | (#44142289)

Yeap, also a nice little monoculture for Apple

The monoculture of the public-school programs set for the entire nation by the federal Department of Education does not bother you, does it? It is only the fact, that one particular city is advancing it using a particular family of devices, that you find troubling...

Re:Crippled crap... (1)

arbiter1 (1204146) | about a year ago | (#44141463)

Yea chromebook might not be much better, but i BET google would cut the school A LOT better deal then apple did.

Re:Crippled crap... (4, Insightful)

BasilBrush (643681) | about a year ago | (#44141543)

Chromebook is a browser in a box, useless when offline, as they may well be when a kid needs to do homework.

And the ChromeBook has only 5 hours battery life. Not long enough. The iPad has 10 hours, which is plenty.

The cheapest option is rarely the one that meets the requirements.

Re:Crippled crap... (1)

mystikkman (1487801) | about a year ago | (#44141567)

Yea chromebook might not be much better, but i BET google would cut the school A LOT better deal then apple did.

That'd be because the Chromebooks aren't selling, but iPads are in great demand.

Re: Crippled crap... (0)

iamhassi (659463) | about a year ago | (#44141475)

Given the immense popularity of iOS and tablets I'd say its better they learn to program apps for that then desktops since tablets seem to be the future. If the school was spending this much on desktops I'd be rather disappointed, glad to see this school at least realizes the future is touchscreen and tablet based.

Re: Crippled crap... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44141763)

back to ars you go.

Re: Crippled crap... (3, Insightful)

wagnerrp (1305589) | about a year ago | (#44141843)

iPads are toys. They will continue to be toys for the forseeable future. While there are some worthwhile apps that allow you to be productive in a very limited scope, if you really want to get work done on a computer, it's at a PC, in front of a keyboard and mouse. It's not a limitation that can be resolved, as it's an inherent limitation of the input mechanism. You can't do anything but pre-programmed tasks on a tablet. Now toys are great. Everyone needs some time for rest and relaxation, but do we really want all these children learning about "computers" using something that is really nothing more than a plaything? Do we really want all these children growing up to write applications that are for little more than play?

Re: Crippled crap... (1, Insightful)

Registered Coward v2 (447531) | about a year ago | (#44142161)

iPads are toys. They will continue to be toys for the forseeable future. While there are some worthwhile apps that allow you to be productive in a very limited scope, if you really want to get work done on a computer, it's at a PC, in front of a keyboard and mouse. It's not a limitation that can be resolved, as it's an inherent limitation of the input mechanism. You can't do anything but pre-programmed tasks on a tablet. Now toys are great. Everyone needs some time for rest and relaxation, but do we really want all these children learning about "computers" using something that is really nothing more than a plaything? Do we really want all these children growing up to write applications that are for little more than play?

You see it as a toy only because your frame of reference is a PC. Your viewpoint is no different than the one espoused when the PC came along and people proclaimed "you need a real computer with a terminal to do real work..." or when the mouse first came out and people said "you need a keyboard and shortcut keys to do real work..." Sure, a PC is better at some things, but an iPad is quite capable of doing real work as well; you just need to think different. For example, it's far better than a PC for reading documentation, you can actual take notes on it, it makes a great white board or overlay for writing on presentations, and it's a lot easier to do a quick web search on one as well. Rather than view it as a PC replacement, view it as a different tool that complements it.

As for limitations of the input method, the touch screen and a bluetooth keyboard mimic a PC quite well; even the virtual keyboard is pretty good. Since the school is not using it to teach computers but to replace textbooks it is more than up to the task.

Re:Crippled crap... (5, Insightful)

foniksonik (573572) | about a year ago | (#44141529)

Who said anything about programming. These are textbook replacements. The only thing they have to do is have all curriculum loaded, accept updated periodically and integrate with the schools provisioning system.

They can still give out the paper workbooks where the kids write stuff. There will still be wide rule notebooks filled with scribbled examples off the whiteboard and doodles galore.

Anything else is a bonus.

Re:Crippled crap... (3, Insightful)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about a year ago | (#44141723)

These are textbook replacements.

Then wouldn't they be better off with ereaders at 1/4 the price, considering this is being paid for with taxpayer dollars?

It's actually more like 1/10th the price for ereaders.

Or do you believe the students' education will benefit from access to iTunes?

Re:Crippled crap... (1)

gfxguy (98788) | about a year ago | (#44141867)

I agree, but go down the road a little farther - it would have to be the tablet based e-readers in case of textbooks with high res color photos and videos; perhaps something capable of a little bit of 3D (I don't know... looking at solar systems or molecules or something). Still - 1/3 to 1/4 the price seems about right. At least half, and that;s with NO discount. This is an absurd waste of tax payer dollars, but hey, I don't have to care because I don't live in CA, right?

I know the summary focuses on the content, though; I'm not sure what people want. Do you want standardized textbooks across the country or not? By the way most people whine about it, god forbid states should come up with their own curriculum.

Re:Crippled crap... (1)

dissy (172727) | about a year ago | (#44142043)

Who said anything about giving them access to iTunes?
As long as the schools IT department isn't incompetent (it manages to happen at times), these will be locked down just as much as the desktop computers should be.

iOS policies are as powerful as GPO or blackberry.
Store access can be restricted to an approved list of apps, or disabled all together and they only get apps pushed out over the network by the admins.

That said, yes you are right that they shouldn't be wasting money like this.
An ereader at a fraction of the cost is better than an iPad locked down to ereader levels of functionality at a higher price.

Sadly this is far from the only example of the waste of tax payer money in the school system, or even the government in general.
It is wrong, but far from surprising.

Re:Crippled crap... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44142309)

These are textbook replacements.

Then wouldn't they be better off with ereaders at 1/4 the price

No, because the ereader would not be able to deliver the full Pearson multimedia experien$e.

Re:Crippled crap... (0)

rea1l1 (903073) | about a year ago | (#44142367)

Im taking a math course online with Pearson. Each and every problem provides a video explanation alongside and example and a help-me-solve it step by step interactive walk through. I've never thought math could be so appealing, but with their system, I'm finally getting through some intermediate algebra. I'm looking forward to taking all of my math courses through them in the future. Top notch.

Re:Crippled crap... (2)

recoiledsnake (879048) | about a year ago | (#44141891)

Who said anything about programming.

That's the problem right there, no one is saying anything about programming while handing the kids general purpose and powerful computer hardware thats been expressly crippled by software and DRM to kill programming and any other non-sandboxed or unapproved-at-Cupertino program.

Re:Crippled crap... (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about a year ago | (#44141937)

So what you are saying is that it's a huge missed opportunity and rather than an iPad a cheaper and more durable tablet or eReader would be more suitable.

Re:Crippled crap... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44141553)

For school books, at least get them an ereader, benefit of longer battery life and not as breakable (for most models). Also, most of them wont be playing games in class. You wanna bet that these are going to be banned in most classes after the second week?

Re:Crippled crap... (1)

NoNonAlphaCharsHere (2201864) | about a year ago | (#44141593)

And to think: entire generations went through grade school using chalkboards the size of iPads.

Re: Crippled crap... (0)

RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) | about a year ago | (#44141637)

Uh. If a kid wants to learn computing they can just go into a computer lab or get specialized hardware for that purpose. Not every kid is going to be getting down and dirty with computing. Nor should they.

Also, comparing an iPad to an iPod touch is like comparing a swimming pool to a bathtub.

I also don't get why people are down on software keyboards. The problem with poor grammar and not communicating clearly isn't the keyboard's fault. I'm writing this fanboy screed now on one. So...

Re: Crippled crap... (2)

wagnerrp (1305589) | about a year ago | (#44141865)

The problem with poor grammar and not communicating clear is absolutely the keyboard's fault. It's not necessarily an issue from software keyboards, but poor input devices in general. When you have a crappy responseless touch screen keyboard, or worse, thumb typing on a number pad, your typing is slow. You make shortcuts to compensate and speed things up. You leave out unimportant words. You abbreviate or make acronyms of others. Sooner or later, no one has any clue what the fuck you're saying. It's all due to the keyboard. Now there are those that will take pride in continuing to use proper language even in the face of such a poor input device, but those are few and far between.

Re: Crippled crap... (1)

RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) | about a year ago | (#44142211)

I was on Usenet in the 90's and MySpace in the 2000's.

Very few people had connected devices, and even less who did used services like Usenet or MySpace through them. Nearly everyone on those services used full hardware keyboards.

I have no problems using a touch screen device. The problem isn't the device, it's the care of the people using them to use correct grammar and spelling. T9 made texting clear and easy. The 160 character limit for SMS on the other hand...

Best combination of devices for kids... (1)

recoiledsnake (879048) | about a year ago | (#44141655)

I think the best combination of devices for kids would be an e-reader(preferably something bigger like the Kindle DX) and a real laptop, here's why.

Pros of e-reader
1) Better battery life measured in days rather than hours. Less of "Hey mom, I'm watching tv because my textbook ran out of juice(because I was watching youtube.)"
2) Readability outdoors and in sunlight. Tried to read a tablet on a bench? All you can see is your face!
3) Less distractions from the temptation to play games, videos and apps. The last thing a kid needs while studying is distractions from notifications from games, twitter, facebook, instagram, snapchat, vine etc. etc.
4) DRM. Yes, since it's obvious that textbook makers are preferring iPad in this story because of the DRM to discourage sharing and copying, e-readers are similarly locked down and will help them get on board.
5) Cheap. Break one? Cheaper to replace. And they're more rugged than the iPad which breaks if you look at the wrong way at it and needs bulky cases.

Pros of laptop(whether touch or not)
1) Can watch videos that you cannot on the above e-reader.
2) Interactive educational apps
3) Bigger screen to read and do things.
4) Attached keyboard encourages writing more than a tweet length.
5) Some kids can do programming if they want, whether web or Python or even Logo.
6) Install alternate OSes on hardware or in VMs
7) Millions of programs, er.. i mean apps, available

Stories like this make the MS tax days look like the golden era of computing where you were free once once you paid the tithe to MS and exposed a lot of kids to Linux.

Re:Best combination of devices for kids... (2)

wagnerrp (1305589) | about a year ago | (#44141881)

Fuck DRM. The school board is paying for all these books, not the students. It's not like the students are going to share the books with each other and cut the textbook makers out. If they actually want to fight piracy, the school board is a large visible entity and will be easy to take to court. The only reason to want DRM for these things is so the textbook makers can force obsolescence of one edition, and require the school board to spend lots of money on the next, even though the only difference is new homework problems in the workbooks.

Re:Crippled crap... (1)

chopthechops (979273) | about a year ago | (#44141779)

The benefit of computers in education is completely dependent on the use of appropriate software and/or teachers having some sort of clue about how to use them. Unfortunately most schools fall short on both counts. I have worked in IT support for several schools for several years and can testify that they are mostly used to run a web browser, and play games, and in this context the overheads required to keep Windows-based computer labs working exceed the benefit when a simpler locked down device could be used instead. Maintaining Windows on laptops that kids take home is a nightmare. Having said that I would not propose any sort of tablet is a good replacement for 'real' computing tasks like programming or photo/video editing if such things are taught in the school. Also if I was buying iPads for a school I'd be bolting them to the desks because I can't see one lasting more than a day without being dropped or stolen.

Re:Crippled crap... (1, Troll)

whisper_jeff (680366) | about a year ago | (#44141847)

This line of thinking is some of the absolute DUMBEST bullshit still floating around on the internet. Pull your head out of your ass and recognize that iPads are used in a LOT of industries as incredibly viable tools that increase productivity.

Furthermore, do you think, maybe, possibly, some of these kids might get excited about programming and decide, just possibly, to learn more about programming for iOS because of the iPads. You know, sorta like how all the old time geeks learned programming because of their piece of crap computers at their schools.

Seriously, pull your head out of your ass.

Re:Crippled crap... (0)

Nerdfest (867930) | about a year ago | (#44142027)

Maybe they will, but of course, then they'll need to buy a developer licence, and a Mac. The title of this thread is at least half correct; iPads are very much crippled, and most of it is very much by design.

Re:Crippled crap... (4, Interesting)

mystikkman (1487801) | about a year ago | (#44142037)

This line of thinking is some of the absolute DUMBEST bullshit still floating around on the internet.

Only if you're a big Apple fanboy, as you're known to be, but let me give your arguments a fair shake anyway, despite your foulmouthed rant.

Pull your head out of your ass and recognize that iPads are used in a LOT of industries as incredibly viable tools that increase productivity.

Erm like what? Bonus points if those tasks cannot be performed on a PC, laptop or Android tablet. Further, as I said it's good for grandmas and other folks, just not kids.

Furthermore, do you think, maybe, possibly, some of these kids might get excited about programming and decide, just possibly, to learn more about programming for iOS because of the iPads.

You mean like this? http://www.pbs.org/idealab/2010/05/programming-language-for-kids-banned-from-apple-app-store118 [pbs.org]

Ok lets see what a kid wanting to program on iOS needs to do.

1) Needs a relatively expensive Mac to even start. What chance is there that parents are going to buy one(if they don't have one) just because little Jimmy may want to dip their feet in programming, which may finally end up in nothing? Pretty close to zero. The cheapest Mac starts at $599 for a weak device on which Xcode lags.
2) Needs an Apple developer ID for which they need to be atleast 13 years ago and $99/yr subscription to test apps on their iOS device. Fat chance that many parents are going to get those for a kid who are known to get bored pretty quick.

You know, sorta like how all the old time geeks learned programming because of their piece of crap computers at their schools.

Seriously, pull your head out of your ass.

Steps taken by old time geeks:

1) Install any one of the hundred IDEs and/or runtimes and start typing.

Who has their "head up their ass" posting "dumbest bullshit" just because they outright worship a company?

Oh, I forgot there is no use arguing with folks like you because:

http://www.businessinsider.com/apple-is-a-religion-neuroscientists-find-it-triggers-the-same-reaction-in-your-brain-2011-5 [businessinsider.com]

Re:Crippled crap... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44142035)

With a real PC or even a netbook or a hybrid, atleast the kid can do more as get tired of Angry Birds.

And then you have to worry about drivers, malware, file system corruption, etc.

As another commenter said, this is mainly a text book replacement, with the added bonus of videos and such, which hopefully will help different styles of learning (textual vs. visual).

Re:Crippled crap... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44142139)

Limited mind you have i see. The tablet is a 'content appliance', not an end all to be all 'magical device'. It can easily replace expensive dead tree textbooks and many paper tests ( essay tests might be a bit difficult without an add-on keyboard, but multiple choice and short answer ones work well ). There are also these things called 'encyclopedias' which can benefit from multimedia ( how many of us could carry around the paper version of the Britannica? ). I

If it did nothing else than the above, it would be of value.

Just because *you* have limited imagination and can't see beyond angry birds does not mean the rest of the world cant...

wait what? (1)

arbiter1 (1204146) | about a year ago | (#44141391)

so 30000000 / 30000 = 1000$ per ipad? i take it they are ipad 1's pretty sad deal for the district.

Re:wait what? (1)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | about a year ago | (#44141405)

Are you stupid? The $30 million is more than just for the iPads. It also encompasses staff hirings, training and support.

Re:wait what? (1)

foniksonik (573572) | about a year ago | (#44141577)

Not to mention the licensed content which is typically very expensive per seat. Think college book pricing. That's what schools pay already. Granted the books they buy have a multi year lifetime but this looks like a similar deal in the form of a subscription which will include updates.

It's probably a better deal than we imagine.

Re:wait what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44141605)

It's probably a better deal than we imagine.

The question is "for whom?". Even if Apple is taking a loss here, they are buying something with that money. They are buying a generation of kids who use Apple, know Apple, think of Apple products, who will grow up to continue consuming Apple products. Mindshare. Like the tobacco companies, get 'em while they're young and they stay loyal, just without the nicotine.

Re:wait what? (1)

NoNonAlphaCharsHere (2201864) | about a year ago | (#44141643)

Well, it worked pretty well with the Apple ][, where they did exactly the same thing.

Re:wait what? (2)

redback (15527) | about a year ago | (#44141407)

RTFA. $678 with a case and software. 16GB retina is 499, less with edu discount.

what makes you think they would be getting a discontinued model?

Re:wait what? (1)

arbiter1 (1204146) | about a year ago | (#44141419)

Its a school, at best they are ipad 2's but best. they won't stick ipad 3 in students hands.

Re:wait what? (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | about a year ago | (#44141581)

They might be 2s. They might be 3s. Or they might be minis. The article doesn't say, and there's no reason to conclude one way or the other from the given information.

Apart from the included software, one reason they might cost more than retail is that Apple is covering them for broken, lost and stolen devices. Which presumably won't be insignificant for school kids.

Re:wait what? (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about a year ago | (#44141409)

Beat me to it. This is what governments do -- spend shitloads of money for questionable value, paying way more than they should.

Re:wait what? (1)

arbiter1 (1204146) | about a year ago | (#44141451)

at best being ipad 2 16gb, if they wee 500$ "NEW" being OLD tech, Bulk purchase, on top of being a SCHOOL district. At most 300$ per which would be 9million $, so where does that OTHER 21million go?

Re:wait what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44141539)

Custom software, support, insurance (some of those iPads will break, or be damaged, and they won't all be able to pay for replacements), and staffing.

Re:wait what? (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | about a year ago | (#44141591)

Staff, software, training, insurance. etc.

Re:wait what? (1, Insightful)

Nerdfest (867930) | about a year ago | (#44142031)

Free Macs for the staff for buying Apple probably.

Re:wait what? (3, Interesting)

pushing-robot (1037830) | about a year ago | (#44141657)

Read TFA. Of that $1000, $678 covers the iPad, the educational software, a case, a three year warranty, and free replacements from Apple for lost, stolen or broken units. The rest seems to be for setup, training and support. TCO is always going to be higher than the initial hardware cost, and this seems like a pretty good deal for what they're getting.

Of course, in your infinite wisdom, I'm sure you'd just buy a shipping container full of $100 Chinese tablets, drop it on the school district's doorstep and say "You're all set!"

Re:wait what? (2)

M. Baranczak (726671) | about a year ago | (#44141795)

Of course, in your infinite wisdom, I'm sure you'd just buy a shipping container full of $100 Chinese tablets, drop it on the school district's doorstep and say "You're all set!"

That actually might not be a bad idea. Just give each kid a tablet, and let them do what they want. I bet the kids can figure out the machines faster than the school's tech support people.

Re:wait what? (1)

pushing-robot (1037830) | about a year ago | (#44142093)

It's important to keep in mind that Slashdot, and most of the sites Slashdotters visit, tend to be echo chambers for technology geeks. Outside this bubble, however, most people (and even most kids) don't consider "self-taught computer genius" to be their goal in life.

In other news: Farming message board posters outraged at cost of school lunches, think students should be given bag of seeds, hoe.

Re:wait what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44142449)

Yes, because everyone knows that today's kids are just mystified by tablets, smartphones, and computers without thousands of dollars per year in training. That's probably why you never see them glued to their devices. If only there were a massive, readily available network of three minute video tutorials and knowledge from more experienced users, and perhaps, if it's not too much to dream for, some kind of utility to easily search this collection.

Re:wait what? (1)

recoiledsnake (879048) | about a year ago | (#44141815)

Of course, in your infinite wisdom, I'm sure you'd just buy a shipping container full of $100 Chinese tablets, drop it on the school district's doorstep and say "You're all set!"

That'd still only cost 300K, 1% of the cost here. Order 5K additional units for replacements and you still have tens of millions left over for software and warranty.

Re:wait what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44142209)

Probably learn alot more than the pablum of Ipads...England has brilliantly got kids using Raspberry Pis and linux. :)

Now, who are you going to look for to solve your computer problems in the future? A know-nothing, button pushing, unthinking Ipad user, or a programming, linux, Pi wiz? :)

http://www.raspberrypi.org/archives/3158 [raspberrypi.org]

No brainer, in my opinion...(but I guess there are no brainers running the LA school district...or maybe they are just corrupt and someone gave a few 'benefits' to school 'decision makers', etc. Sigh...)

http://www.raspberrypi.org/archives/3158 [raspberrypi.org]

#1 reason this is stupid (1, Insightful)

erroneus (253617) | about a year ago | (#44141479)

The people and the stories all focus on the device. The device is not inherently educational. People think of these devices as fun things... entertaining things. They are, in fact, designed mostly for entertainment. Why is this good for schools?

Now, if some educational software system out there which makes especially good use of iPad as a student interface, then great! Let's hear about this great software system. To put out "students get consumer device" followed by "students are easily distracted by social media and entertainment" makes me wonder what they have in mind for the educational system.

Re:#1 reason this is stupid (5, Interesting)

RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) | about a year ago | (#44141583)

what the fuck are you talking about?

Designed for entertainment?

Have you even used a tablet before? iBooks has educational content, the iPad has a lot of text editors and word processors. I've written many screeds on /. ON an iPad.

The thing about iPads in non-consumer contexts is that large entities like businesses, schools and NGOs can restrict what apps go on these devices and if you get the extra enterprise deployment gear, you actually CAN side load custom software on them.

Stop smoking crack. It's bad for you.

Re:#1 reason this is stupid (1)

AthanasiusKircher (1333179) | about a year ago | (#44141739)

what the fuck are you talking about?

Designed for entertainment?

Have you even used a tablet before? ... I've written many screeds on /. ON an iPad.

I think you just proved the GP's point.

(Hint: ranting on Slashdot does NOT usually count as an "educational" activity.)

Re:#1 reason this is stupid (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | about a year ago | (#44141629)

TFA talks about software and resources. But beyond that, and the copious amount of educational software available on the App Store, there's Apple's interactive textbooks technology and content. The iPad is the best platform for education content these days.

http://www.apple.com/education/ipad/ [apple.com]

Re:#1 reason this is stupid (1)

atherophage (2481624) | about a year ago | (#44141727)

Teachers love this stuff. Students log into teacher-proof lesson plans. Some assignments can be automatically graded and submitted to the online grading system. School districts enjoy showing off all the wonderful technology they have implemented under the guise of "Look what we are doing for your children". The hidden truth is district administrators often have no idea how this tech works. Teachers rarely have an opportunity to be fully trained on the effective use of this tech (some don't want to learn). The end result is these iPads often get used as educational soothers to keep students quiet and in their seats.

Re:#1 reason this is stupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44141975)

So what if teachers don't know how the tech works. They probably also don't know the process for creating a textbook either. The good teachers can make suggestions/partner with the principal/IT staff/vendor and still create good material without knowing how to do it all. It all has to start somewhere, everyone seems to only be saying NIMBY.

Re:#1 reason this is stupid (2)

felrom (2923513) | about a year ago | (#44141859)

Once you understand that the public education system is not concerned with public education, then decisions like this start to make more sense. Public schools have become a day care to relieve bad parents, a welfare program for otherwise unemployable people masquerading as "teachers," an efficient way to grow bureaucracy, and a tool for channeling government money to cronies. In that light, burning another $30,000,000 on a "solution" that will only further worsen the outcomes of public education makes complete sense.

Re:#1 reason this is stupid (1)

fermion (181285) | about a year ago | (#44142089)

Devices are not educational. However, unless you are one of those people who believe education is to teach trivia, and not skills, then teaching in a way that people are going to be expected to live is educational. For instance, I was fortunate enough to have computers in school in the early 80's, which meant that when I went to look for a job I had the skills. I was not one of the multitude that were unemployed. Tablets are the next coming thing, just like the PC was when I was in school. Fortunately we had apples in addition to mainframes. Forward looking administration.

As far as the rest, it is garbage as well. For instance, schools may replace computers every few years, but that is not because they are obsolete. The old computers go to other teachers who do not have them. High end computers for career classes can be sent to core classes for a lifetime that can extend to 6 or 7 years. Likewise the first iPad I bought back in 20110 is still in use by a family member. I am still on a 2nd generation iPad. These things are much more solid than your equivalently priced laptop. They should last 5 years.

In terms of curriculum, there is backlash from the conservative politicians. There are two reasons for this. First and foremost is the money that is going to be saved. Right now each state has to pay huge sums of money to develop state objectives, curriculum, and testing. It used to be that this waste of money went to the district level. Much of this money was simply funneled directly from the tax payer to the private corporation to pay for testing materials, material that was often tweaked based on existing material, but still charged at huge markups. These private corporations, like pearsons, investing huge sums into conservative campaigns to insure this gravy train. The tax bill, however, grew too high and now most conservatives are rebelling(Remember GW Bush signed into law the bill that created an unfunded mandate at the state level requiring that companies like pearson be retained at whatever rate they wished to charged)

Second is the idea of states rights, that what is taught should be at the state level. If a state, for instance, what to teach that science is limited in that if often comes up with wrong conclusions, such as evolution, and not that science is a process where the data gathering skills are much more important than the trivia, they should feel free to do so. If a state wants to teach that Europe gave the world advanced culture and skills, and the natives of the americans, and the Mexicans, were just losers who had nothing to offer, they should.

Legitimate researchers and educators, not politician and administrators, have created the common core. It allows many companies to create a curriculum based on the core and market it. It ends the lockin that has existed over the past 10 years. It ends the boondoggle that is high stakes testing.

Re:#1 reason this is stupid (1)

Mex (191941) | about a year ago | (#44142159)

People think of these devices as fun things... entertaining things. They are, in fact, designed mostly for entertainment. Why is this good for schools?

One of the more unfortunate things I've ever read on Slashdot. Rather appropiate username! ;-)

Block Skype from these iPads (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44141505)

http://www.blackhat.com/presentations/bh-europe-06/bh-eu-06-biondi/bh-eu-06-biondi-up.pdf

Skype obfuscates its code. Has 300+ checksum routines, that attempt to prevent breakpoints being set in the code to prevent debugging it. Decrypts code to run. Tries to test and block system level debuggers. Polymorphic.

It's potentially an NSA spying app, Blackhat presentation confirms voice/messages/mail etc can be intercepted by Skype Inc, (we knew this anyway from the PRISM leak) but they were unable to determine if it contains any back doors. e.g. can it remotely told to turn on the mic and or camera? can it grab files off a computer remotely? etc. The code anti debugging techniques make it difficult to tell.

So LA should block it from kids computers.

Android based teaching system Amplify (4, Informative)

horeton (82590) | about a year ago | (#44141541)

My son is in a year round STEM school in NC and their school uses a system based on android called Amplify http://www.amplify.com/ [amplify.com] . It isn't just an app it is a modified android tablet that allows students to participate as a collective in the individual classroom. Students can use the table to raise their hand, ask question and participate in classwork. Teachers use it to teach their curriculum and after a lesson can deploy a quick quiz so the teacher knows who understood the lesson and who may need additional help. Teachers can see what each student is doing on their tablet at any time with the master teacher's tablet. Each individual student has their own tablet and the tablets are locked down, always on with att 4G when off campus and students take the tablets home to do their homework on them. Their main responsibility is charging the tablet every night. It has been great over the last school year watching my son enjoy his curriculum in new ways using his tablet and the best part is really how well the tablet fits into the classroom and is replacing the tradition text book. The program was supposed to be only a 1 year test of the product but the school has asked to allow the 6th grade students to continue to use their tablets in 7th grade. Kudos to Amplify I hope all schools in this country will stop wasting money on promises and use something that I personally have already watched prove itself as a fantastic learning product for my 7th grader.

Re:Android based teaching system Amplify (1)

dcherryholmes (1322535) | about a year ago | (#44141699)

Fellow North Carolinian and parent here. Would you mind giving me the name of the school? I'd like to learn more about it.

Re:Android based teaching system Amplify (1)

horeton (82590) | about a year ago | (#44141729)

East Cary Middle School, Wake County.

Re:Android based teaching system Amplify (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about a year ago | (#44142311)

Students can use the table to raise their hand, ask question and participate in classwork.

No wonder obesity is so bad in this country.

Re:Android based teaching system Amplify (1)

horeton (82590) | about a year ago | (#44142401)

Maybe the kid afraid to raise their hand "shy" and ask a question has found this as a way to express their opinion as it has done for my child with Aspergers. I don't see how raising your hand has anything to do with obesity.

sad (2)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about a year ago | (#44141627)

...and this is why our schools are failing.

A local school was complaining that they'd have to lay off a bunch of teachers recently. Come to find out they'd also recently installed a $3000 digital whiteboard into every classroom. What the fuck is wrong with our schools? You're think teachers could do basic math. I understand that the boards can make the teacher more productive... but those boards are going to fail. Chalkboards and whiteboards don't. For what they spent on those boards they could have kept 4 or 5 teachers on staff. How many teachers could the school district hire for $30 million? I could understand if our school systems were flush with cash but they're not. Once class sizes are bellow 20 students and teachers stop protesting about their raises and benefits, maybe then we can think about giving the kids toys to play with?

Re:sad (1, Insightful)

tlambert (566799) | about a year ago | (#44141675)

...and this is why our schools are failing.

A local school was complaining that they'd have to lay off a bunch of teachers recently.

They always complain about that. Then they send out pink slips. Then they don't lay anyone off. It's a scam by the teachers union, where your career path exits teaching and moves into administration so that you can make 2-3x the money while parents are forced to buy paper and pencils for their students.

BTW, the student/teacher ratio is about 2X larger in Utah, and their SAT scores are in the top 10 of the nation, rather than in the bottom 10, as in California. So throwing money or teachers at it doesn't fix what's wrong with education in California.

Re:sad (3, Funny)

AthanasiusKircher (1333179) | about a year ago | (#44141751)

BTW, the student/teacher ratio is about 2X larger in Utah, and their SAT scores are in the top 10 of the nation, rather than in the bottom 10, as in California. So throwing money or teachers at it doesn't fix what's wrong with education in California.

So what you're saying is... we need more Mormons in our educational system??

Re:sad (1)

supercrisp (936036) | about a year ago | (#44141869)

That's a very silly claim. Yes, there are too many administrators. But attrition in teacher ranks is not being caused by teachers moving into administration. If there is a reduction in teacher numbers in a district, it's due to budget cuts. More typically teacher numbers are staying the same or increasing, but not at a rate that keeps up with increasing enrollments. I say this someone who teaches and who therefore really hates the increases in administrative overhead.

Re:sad (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44142033)

It's secondary, not a direct effect. As politically powerful people in the union gravitate to administration, they expand their own ranks. The money and office space for this comes out the rank and file jobs. And then they commission a study with new employees to plan to evaluate a proposal to change the policies, gathering input from all relevant administrative personnel.

Been there, done that, got to help keep their email working. It was enlightening.

Re: sad (1)

RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) | about a year ago | (#44141917)

Wait. What?

Cite source?

According to this: http://www.statisticbrain.com/sat-score-statistics/ [statisticbrain.com] California is 34th, and Utah is 20th.

Two things. First, the difference between California and Utah is only 146 points. Second, California is a pretty big state with a lot of socioeconomic disparity. More so than Utah.

Re:sad (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44142013)

When you start with a stable, middle class population, it's a lot cheaper to educatte the kids. A lot of California schools have to spend a *lot* of extra money on teaching immigrant kids languages, on kids with amazing medical needs, and on the exceptional kids whose parents in Utah would put them in private school.

It's a much tougher job to run a large, culturally and economically mixed school. Been there, done that, as both student and teacher.

Re:sad (1)

melikamp (631205) | about a year ago | (#44141705)

And while we are at it, may be we can give our kids cheaper toys, running a full-featured free software OS and free educational software, which the kids can study. Using non-free software to educate (really, to program) the students is a clear sign of corruption. I suspect a traditional kind of corruption, when inferior, overpriced products are adapted in exchange for some kind of kickback. And for sure, there is a corruption of the pedagogical ideal here. What can a black box really teach a student? "Never you mind how I work, what I think, or how much I spy on you. Be a good girl and follow the directions on the screen."

Re:sad (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44141813)

no shit! how foolish can we be?

Re:sad (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44142411)

You're think teachers could do basic math.

The funny thing is, even math teachers today don't need to be able to do math. They only need a degree in education to teach math.

This explains the Idiocracy documentary I saw... (1)

UBfusion (1303959) | about a year ago | (#44141631)

Is the famous USA educational system becoming the pinnacle of consumerism? Where pupils need only to consume hi-calorie concentrate food canned in hi-tech tablets and evaluated only by pressing their fat fingers on multiple choice questions check-boxes?

"Question 1: The rectangular machine you have in your hand at this very moment and reading this question on is:
a) a tablet
b) a computer
c) a calculator
d) a PC
e) an iPad"

Apple has a long history with school lock-in (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44141677)

In the late '70s and early '80s, Apple was getting hammered in the market by the newer, faster Z-80- and Intel-based microcomputers that were becoming available. Apple II sales slid, but Apple began dumping the IIs to schools at ridiculously low prices. The result was to produce a generation of students indoctrinated in the Apple paradigm. Later, high schools realized that business and, therefore, jobs demanded PC software skills. Education began to shift its focus, but the Apple company had kept itself afloat to fight another day with its new Macintosh.

Skype on iPads, block em (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44141833)

Mod me down if you like, this is the technical details. If the school puts Skype on there, they're exposing kids to a million defense contractors with no legal controls on them and no consequences for bad actions:

http://www.blackhat.com/presentations/bh-europe-06/bh-eu-06-biondi/bh-eu-06-biondi-up.pdf

Skype obfuscates its code. Has 300+ checksum routines, that attempt to prevent breakpoints being set in the code to prevent debugging it. Decrypts code to run. Tries to test and block system level debuggers. Polymorphic.

It's potentially an NSA spying app, Blackhat presentation confirms voice/messages/mail etc can be intercepted by Skype Inc, (we knew this anyway from the PRISM leak) but they were unable to determine if it contains any back doors. e.g. can it remotely told to turn on the mic and or camera? can it grab files off a computer remotely? etc. The code anti debugging techniques make it difficult to tell.

So LA should block it from kids computers.

PEARSON (3, Insightful)

supercrisp (936036) | about a year ago | (#44141883)

I'm not seeing posts here addressing the more serious issue, which is the lock-in to Pearson. I know people who work at Pearson, and they do have an intentional policy of moving into schools, taking over curricula, evaluation, and eventually eliminating teacher jobs. I think that it's good to have plenty of teachers, fewer students per teacher, and I'm skeptical about the value of the new shiny, whether it's a gadget or some theory of fixing everything cheaply, but--by far--the more worrying concern is allowing a single corporation have such a large sway over public education. Especially as, in my opinion, Pearson provides some of the shittier textbooks out there. And that's saying something, given the general shittiness of textbooks.

Too costly (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44141913)

From TFA:

The iPads will cost $678 each, which includes a case and a full slate of learning software, but no keyboard.

That is ridiculous. If I felt like tablets were the right thing to work with, I'd have gone with ~$150 Android tablets. Decent models, bought in bulk from China.

Kids are going to loose / break / ... them, and they're going to need to be renewed at some point, too. It shouldn't cost too much to do that.

(I do not think bulk licensed software for educational use and teacher training and stuff will amount to $480).

No keyboard? (1)

PPH (736903) | about a year ago | (#44142051)

How will the kids take notes, write reports and essays, etc?

I guess the CCS assumes life will be a multiple choice menu made up of animated icons. If you don't fit one of the options offered, you're screwed (like a Slashdot poll).

Re:No keyboard? (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about a year ago | (#44142325)

I guess the CCS assumes life will be a multiple choice menu made up of animated icons. If you don't fit one of the options offered, you're screwed (like a Slashdot poll).

And just like a Slashdot poll, if you are using it do to any real work, you're insane.

Not really a surprise (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44141951)

For those of you that have been out of school for a while, this fits right in with where things have been heading. Kids cannot wear bags or backbacks during the school day, etc. This allows schools to eliminate carrying around half a dozen books to and from school so that kids can work on homework, allows them to make digital/interactive worksheets that can't be "lost" or destroyed by the dog. (of course the device still can...)

I do see a lot of potential for this to come out good. Most of these comments come across as quite luddite-ish. As mentioned above these can be augmented with workbooks or wide-ruled notepads. Also, who says these things need to have internet access 24/7. Applications can be created that stores the content locally. I'd be shocked if at least half the /. community couldn't come up with at least one way to restrict the device to the task at hand.

Textbooks are not the valuable unreplacable commodity they're touted to be. They service a purpose and have for a while, but the technology is here to replace them and it's about time someone gave it a try.

Re:Not really a surprise (1)

PPH (736903) | about a year ago | (#44142023)

This allows schools to eliminate carrying around half a dozen books to and from school

It also keeps school districts from reusing textbooks for a couple of years. Or donating them to needy students. Once the year is up, the publisher can reach out and delete the iPad copies.

Curriculum "lock in"? WTF? (1)

sirwired (27582) | about a year ago | (#44141997)

How can adopting a particular curriculum lock in students for "generations"? School districts / states can, and do, make curriculum changes All. The. Time.

Common Core Standards (2)

Dcnjoe60 (682885) | about a year ago | (#44142009)

Of course, what is missing and hard to find about the Common Core Standards is they were started by the government (state governors association, I believe) to standardize curriculums and teaching methods accross the states with one of their key reasons being to hold down education costs. That has since been removed from the website, but the CCS was not about improving educational standards but cost containment.

How will they do that? Pay teachers less and pay Pearsons more. You want to improve education in America? Find out how the 1% educate their kids. It won't be cheap, but you do get what you pay for.

Re:Common Core Standards (1)

UBfusion (1303959) | about a year ago | (#44142493)

If it was possible to "standardize curricula" based on "state of the art" educational principles in order to minimize "costs", it would have already have been done 50 years ago, not only across US states, but across countries and continents too.

If you come to think about it, the Sciences (Physics, Astronomy, Chemistry, Biology, Maths, Geology, etc) are universal. The only differentiating subjects are language and to an extent, history. So the globalization, standardization and "canning" of knowledge to teach in schools, even in universities, is feasible.

The first company that will patent and produce The Bible for such a globalized curriculum will become as rich as the Church. Pearson is one such candidate.

Pearson, and companies like them, are a nightmare (3, Insightful)

The Second Horseman (121958) | about a year ago | (#44142021)

Forget the iPads - Pearson, and these other parasites are going to do more to cripple education in this country than anything else. Private profits from the public taxpayer's dime, they're going to be unaccountable. We'll certainly blame the teachers when this canned curriculum crashes and burns, but Pearson and their ilk? They'll be laughing all the way to the bank.

You know what's worse than government? Government contractors and suppliers.

$30 million for 30,000 iPads? (1)

walter_f (889353) | about a year ago | (#44142053)

That's a refreshing $1,000 a pop.

Wasn't "high volume purchase" meant to work the other way, originally?

Did I just miss another great innovation by Pearson and Apple, along the lines of
"The more you buy, the higher the per-item price"?

Not to mention the fact that iPads are, by design, nearly non-repairable. What a bad idea to give such an example of non-sustainability to young people these days.

Not to mention that an all purpose computing platform, like a netbook, with a choice of OSes and application software (preferably OSS/FOSS), not just single task "apps", would render a better service to high school students

Re:$30 million for 30,000 iPads? (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about a year ago | (#44142279)

software and books cost add up as well.

Waste (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44142317)

CA sure knows how to waste money. Why are they paying $1000 per ipad?

My kid doesn't have books (1)

rsilvergun (571051) | about a year ago | (#44142337)

and it's incredibly frustrating. I'm a bright guy and I can help her with her homework, but I don't remember everything from high school physics or algebra/trig. And with humanities and the Arts there's often a 'right' answer from the teaching materials.

I used to wonder why this stuff wasn't online until I saw the profits those textbook companies make. Stupid capitalism.

sad day for education (1)

csumpi (2258986) | about a year ago | (#44142345)

Corporate greed and corruption at it's finest, and all done in the name of "for the education of our kids".

Shame on Apple. Shame on Pearson. And shame on the people who got paid off for this at LA Unified.

Pearson FTW (1)

twistedcubic (577194) | about a year ago | (#44142507)

I think Pearson hopes schools do not adopt texts which are not available on the iPad. LAUSD will be paying for new editions of the same virtual books in perpetuity. This is corporate welfare at its finest.
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