Beta

Slashdot: News for Nerds

×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

NC School District Recalls Its Amplify Tablets After 10% Break In Under a Month

Soulskill posted about 10 months ago | from the kids-break-things-film-at-11 dept.

Education 177

Nate the greatest writes "Guilford County Schools' headline grabbing tablet program is back in the news again. The program came to an abrupt end last Friday when the school district announced that they were recalling all of the Amplify tablets. GCS had leased over 15 thousand of the tablets (at a cost of $200 a year) for its middle school students, but decided to recall the tablets just one month into the school year after some 1500 students reported a broken screen. Around two thousand complained of improperly fitting cases, and there were also 175 reports of malfunctioning power supplies. There's currently no explanation for the cases or power supplies, but GCS has stated that the tablets broke because they lacked a layer of Gorilla Glass. This was listed in the contract, but the school district did not confirm the condition of the tablets before accepting them. This program was the poster child for News Corp.'s entry into the educational market. It was the single largest program to use the Amplify tablet, and its failure represents a serious setback. The Amplify tablet now has a record for poor construction quality and a breakage rate that is 12 times higher than what Squaretrade reported in early 2012 for the iPad 2."

cancel ×

177 comments

Obvious Solution (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45075235)

Don't give them tablets.

Re:Obvious Solution (5, Funny)

Sponge Bath (413667) | about 10 months ago | (#45075395)

Or give them stone tablets. Upper body strength and moral instruction in one inexpensive package.

Re:Obvious Solution (1)

NineNine (235196) | about 10 months ago | (#45075425)

Requiring people to use upper body strength is probably considered assault by most Slashdotters. Nowhere have I seen more people complaining about not being able to pick up Gadget X or Gadget Y because the few pounds it weighs is overwhelming to their frail bodies.

Re:Obvious Solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45075609)

Go visit mirrorless camera photography forum and extoll the virtues of a DSLR!

Re:Obvious Solution (2)

Lumpy (12016) | about 10 months ago | (#45075885)

Oh dear god, listen to the whiners when you even suggest a 17" laptop... OMG the whining becomes immense. Bunch of frail little old men.

Re:Obvious Solution (1)

DarkOx (621550) | about 10 months ago | (#45075441)

This is North Carolina, when you say things like they don't you're kidding.

Re:Obvious Solution (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45075913)

This is North Carolina, when you say things like they don't you're kidding.

Go over it again. Pick up some additional data.

Re:Obvious Solution (4, Funny)

khellendros1984 (792761) | about 10 months ago | (#45076193)

That's an unfair stereotype. Every time I North Carolina they always I'm kidding.

Re:Obvious Solution (1)

onyxruby (118189) | about 10 months ago | (#45075607)

This idea has great merit! You will quickly learn to get your punctuation correct, your grammar will become textbook perfect and sloppy math errors will become a thing of the past. The dog will never again eat your homework, you don't have to worry about the computer crashing before you clicked save and it's going to be really hard for someone to copy your answers in class. Brilliant!

Re:Obvious Solution (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45076787)

Or give them stone tablets. Upper body strength and moral instruction in one inexpensive package.

As I recall, that's what God gave Moses... And we all know how that turned out!!!

Re:Obvious Solution (3, Interesting)

ackthpt (218170) | about 10 months ago | (#45075413)

Don't give them tablets.

Tell me about it. Some of these smartphone screens break at nearly the drop of a hat. Anything you're going to give to kids should be nearly indestructible, perfect testing for anything which could in the future be called Mil Spec.

Re:Obvious Solution (2)

cusco (717999) | about 10 months ago | (#45076387)

Congratulations NewsCorp! Your tablets are actually higher quality and less defective than your news product.

Re:Obvious Solution (0)

Lumpy (12016) | about 10 months ago | (#45075867)

But but... you cant expect teachers to actually TEACH!

Teachers today are lazy. Microphones and speakers in the room so they can get louder than the kids, because they don't want to tell the brats to shut the hell up and then speak in a speaking voice so everyone can hear. Instead of writing on a chalkboard, they show them a youtube video and then look at a powerpoint that is 2 or more years old.

how about teaching? from paper books and using their hands, eyes, and ears?

Re:Obvious Solution (3, Informative)

RoverDaddy (869116) | about 10 months ago | (#45076089)

That's quite a generality. I've been to my daughter's high school and the teachers there don't appear to be lazy in the least, AND they seem to be leveraging technology in sensible ways. For example, the way my daughter can log in to a school web site and see every day's lessons and homework assignments.

Re:Obvious Solution (2)

un1nsp1red (2503532) | about 10 months ago | (#45076497)

Yes, the teachers are lazy because "they don't want to tell the brats - whose asshole parents have raised asshole kids - to shut the hell up." Not to mention there's a pretty good chance the teachers didn't ask for the tablets -- these things are pretty rarely bottom-up endeavors. Oh, and, btw, my paper books when I was in school were decades old. Two years is bleeding-edge in the world of printed textbooks. You don't honestly think paper textbooks are updated annually, do you?

And this is what you get when you (4, Insightful)

themushroom (197365) | about 10 months ago | (#45075249)

go with the lowest bidder. If you're going to make notebooks for school, make them so they can withstand those things found in schools -- students.

Re:And this is what you get when you (3, Insightful)

ackthpt (218170) | about 10 months ago | (#45075437)

go with the lowest bidder. If you're going to make notebooks for school, make them so they can withstand those things found in schools -- students.

200$ x 3 years doesn't smell a bit like a low bid. I'd go with something clam-shell, to be honest and you can drop from 20 feet and it still works without a cracked screen. Also needs to be waterproof, because kids will be carrying it about in backpacks which are 100% not waterproof.

Re:And this is what you get when you (5, Interesting)

girlintraining (1395911) | about 10 months ago | (#45075457)

go with the lowest bidder. If you're going to make notebooks for school, make them so they can withstand those things found in schools -- students.

Umm, these are tablets not notebooks. From my experience with my little sister, teenagers do not treat their electronics very well -- Gorilla glass wouldn't help much. All the glass does is keep the display from being scratched. It won't help if you drop the device, or if it is subjected to tortion stress (twisted). Both of these will deform the case, and in turn the LCD. It doesn't take much to destroy an LCD. Sitting on it. Dropping it onto a hardwood or concrete floor. The list goes on. And teenagers don't just kill the devices through these simple physical forces...

My sister routinely drags her iPad into the bathroom to listen to music while she takes a shower. I die a little inside thinking of all that humidity corroding the insides. And I can't tell you how many times she's yanked the power adapter out by the cord, or grabbed it, and forgetting it was still plugged in, tore the adapter right out of the wall socket. Without inspecting one of these Amplify tablets, I don't know if this is the case, but with ipads the connector has a spring to hold it in place -- which means the cord and the connector in the device gets bent and mangled after doing this a few times. I've replaced the power adapter for her about 5 times now. She hasn't even had it two years. Her current one is held together with electrical tape and numerous warnings that this will be the last one. She still comes to me every few weeks after it shorts out and dies from the latest careless act.

But god help you if you tell slashdot this [slashdot.org] . It's a hanging offense to state the obvious around here... :/

Re:And this is what you get when you (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45075585)

Why are you supporting your sister in her bad habits?

Re:And this is what you get when you (2)

girlintraining (1395911) | about 10 months ago | (#45075633)

Why are you supporting your sister in her bad habits?

Ever lived with a teenager? You pick and choose your battles carefully.

Re:And this is what you get when you (1)

jittles (1613415) | about 10 months ago | (#45076121)

Why are you supporting your sister in her bad habits?

Ever lived with a teenager? You pick and choose your battles carefully.

Just out of curiosity (and its obviously none of my business) but are you raising your sister? Or are you just trying to be a good sibling?

Re:And this is what you get when you (2)

lgw (121541) | about 10 months ago | (#45075663)

My sister routinely drags her iPad into the bathroom to listen to music while she takes a shower. I die a little inside thinking of all that humidity corroding the insides. And I can't tell you how many times she's yanked the power adapter out by the cord, or grabbed it, and forgetting it was still plugged in, tore the adapter right out of the wall socket. Without inspecting one of these Amplify tablets, I don't know if this is the case, but with ipads the connector has a spring to hold it in place -- which means the cord and the connector in the device gets bent and mangled after doing this a few times. I've replaced the power adapter for her about 5 times now. She hasn't even had it two years

These are all normal use cases for consumer electronics. There's no reason (other than shoddy device manufacturing) that any of that should cause damage. A clock radio would be fine with that sort of handling, and it's reasonable to expect a tablet would be too. The fact that most tablets are so easily damaged by ordinary handling tells us it's not a mature device yet.

Re:And this is what you get when you (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45075925)

As far as the plugs go, it's likely unwillingness to license the requisite patents from MS that prevents Apple from having cables that don't destroy themselves when yanked. Those magnetic quick-separation connectors for wired controllers saved more than a few xboxen from imminent destruction, back in the day.

Re:And this is what you get when you (2)

khellendros1984 (792761) | about 10 months ago | (#45076249)

I don't think I've ever seen a magnetic connector on an Xbox control. None of my original or 360 controls use magnets, at least. I am aware of certain Apple laptops with magnetically-attached power cables, though. I guess it wouldn't surprise me if there were separate patents for magnetic attachment of data cables versus magnetic attachment of power cables, though.

Re:And this is what you get when you (1)

cpt kangarooski (3773) | about 10 months ago | (#45076573)

Yes, what does Apple know about magnetic quick-separation connectors for wired devices? Nothing, obviously.

Re:And this is what you get when you (2)

UnknowingFool (672806) | about 10 months ago | (#45075927)

All the glass does is keep the display from being scratched. It won't help if you drop the device, or if it is subjected to tortion stress (twisted).

Gorilla glass has higher scratch resistance and toughness (at comparable thickness) than regular glass. It is not indestructible but it will not shatter at the low forces that glass will. But given enough force, yes it will break. Now you can increase the thickness of both Gorilla glass and regular to make it tougher however increasing the thickness is not a good solution for electronic devices.

Re:And this is what you get when you (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45075991)

I dropped my iPad 3 from 3' up and it bent the corner, I'm not going to defend that the iPad is indestructable (cause it clearly isn't) but we probably shouldn't be using such cheap and weak "tablet" designs for children/teens in the first place.

Like at the minimum, an iPad should be rubberized, that would make it at least survive a drop. It's still not going to survive being used as a bludgeon.
Captcha: Attacks

Re:And this is what you get when you (2)

krotkruton (967718) | about 10 months ago | (#45076815)

Just saying, but height is only one factor in what will break a device - rotation and impact angles play a large role in whether or not that force is distributed in a way that cracks the screen. You can drop a device from 3' up and crack the screen and then drop the same device from 12' up without doing any damage.

Just sayin, because people tend to use the "Well mine dropped from this height and so " as if that's a good barometer for ruggedness. Forgetting about that being anecdotal evidence, it's really not evidence at all since it's only one variable in a larger equation.

But yeah, I'm with you that if a school wants to provide something like this to students, they better make sure the device is pretty strong. Especially because you know people (kids especially) generally don't take care of free things as well as things they had to pay for.

Re:And this is what you get when you (1)

aaarrrgggh (9205) | about 10 months ago | (#45076887)

Fine. I dropped my iPad like a complete idiot from 5' onto a concrete surface at approximately 15mph impact velocity. (Riding bike, fell out of unzipped backpack.) Unit hit dead on the corner, cracked the screen (chipped in the corner and two long cracks across the screen). Still fully functional, although it likely has a reduced life now. It happens, it sucks, but my only regret is that it has 64GB storage and replacing the body and screen cost $200+ which really isn't worth it for a 3rd generation iPad. Two more weeks and I should be able to get an upgrade...

Er, lolwut? (5, Insightful)

girlintraining (1395911) | about 10 months ago | (#45075265)

This is news, how exactly?

Raise your hand if you know that teenagers tend to break shit. A lot. Move along, nothing to see here.

Re:Er, lolwut? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45075451)

Read the summary: they expected this but the tablets that were delivered turned out not to have the toughened screens that the contract required them to have so it's the vendor that screwed up.

Re:Er, lolwut? (0)

girlintraining (1395911) | about 10 months ago | (#45075491)

Read the summary: they expected this but the tablets that were delivered turned out not to have the toughened screens that the contract required them to have so it's the vendor that screwed up.

It wouldn't have helped; Gorilla glass protects against scratches. If you drop the device onto a concrete floor, it's just as dead no matter what kind of covering you put over the LCD.

Re:Er, lolwut? (1)

plover (150551) | about 10 months ago | (#45075895)

Gorilla glass definitely protects against shock very well. While it may not protect perfectly against edge impacts, (which is the most likely scenario for an accidental drop,) it's still about 10x better than all the other glass options.

It's definitely time to return them if they don't meet the contract specs, though.

Re:Er, lolwut? (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about 10 months ago | (#45076127)

I've lost more than one electronic device to a drop of less than 12". We'll never know how many were a 3" drop to carpet that broke the glass, or, one of my favorites, a drop of 3" from a desk into a desk drawer that shattered a phone screen. Yes, it won't help if it is dropped from the ISS and lands on a concrete freeway and is run over 142 times. But I find it absurd that you are implying that none of the 1500 broken screens would have been prevented if stronger glass was used.

Re:Er, lolwut? (1)

Gilmoure (18428) | about 10 months ago | (#45075887)

Daughter, 13, is on her first iPhone. Her last 2 iPod touches still work, though the 2 is getting a bit long in tooth. It just sits in the car dashbored serving up music. Some kids are pretty good about these things.

Now, about that flip phone I dropped in the dog pen a few winters back, finally found it after spring thaw. Ok, the dogs found it first and had some fun chewing on it.

Re:Er, lolwut? (2)

wjcofkc (964165) | about 10 months ago | (#45076295)

I am awfully surprised to see this modded troll to the point I feel kind of bad for you. If I had a point I would be giving it too you as insightful instead of commenting. Of course kids break shit. I saw this coming when this was first announced. With the exception of the melting adapters this whole story is redundant because... of course kids break shit. I'm even willing to bet those cases fit before those kids got there hands on them. Torsion anyone? Given the whole year I'll also bet over half of those screens would have been broken Gorilla Glass or not.

Someone have the good sense to mod girlintraining up!

Stop buying tables for schools. (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45075289)

I don't care if they are iPads or Android tablets or whatever. They aren't ready for public schools to waste their money on them.

Re:Stop buying tables for schools. (5, Insightful)

Salgak1 (20136) | about 10 months ago | (#45075411)

The REAL question is. . . . which relative of which school board member(s) got a hefty "consulting" fee for persuading the District to do this. . .

What do they expect? (4, Funny)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | about 10 months ago | (#45075293)

They probably shouldn't have incorporated the tablets into the wood shop curriculum - if a student doesn't have a hammer available, he's gonna use the first thing he can lay his hands on.

Fortunately, back in my day, that just meant occasionally driving nails with a crescent wrench.

Rupert Murdoch, where are you to report on this? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45075305)

Oh wait, it's in your own house.

Nobody will breathe a word of emotional hysteria on any of your networks about it.

Except maybe to blame government waste and fraud.

Contract (3, Interesting)

Threni (635302) | about 10 months ago | (#45075399)

"listed in the contract, but the school district did not confirm the condition of the tablets before accepting them"

But they were listed in the contract. Presumably the school didn't check the CPU either. So what?

Re:Contract (2)

plover (150551) | about 10 months ago | (#45075961)

How is the school supposed to know? If they ordered Li-Po batteries and they tore one open and found the part number on the batteries indicated they were Li-Ion, they'd at least be able to check. But a sheet of glass has no such markings.

And to your point, that's not their responsibility, either. They ordered X, they received Y, breach of contract. Done.

I'm not sure I understand the premise (1)

NeroTransmitter (1928480) | about 10 months ago | (#45075447)

It would be one thing if a tablet was capable of replacing a child's textbooks, but they aren't, so what's the point? It's not a magic device, it requires this thing called software. The tablet in and of itself is better suited for wasting time on the interwebs and playing 'touch' games. These ijits bought fragile paper weights... Stupid sexy tablets!

Re:I'm not sure I understand the premise (4, Funny)

plover (150551) | about 10 months ago | (#45076085)

Our school switched this term to iPads for all students. My old-school technique of placing sticky tabs on the pages to discuss no longer works. Yet somehow, I'm managing to use the highlights and notes features of the textbook app to still teach the class. And somehow, my students are managing to do their required reading, and turn in their homework on time.

I don't understand how any of this can happen if a tablet can't replace a textbook. Perhaps you have some reason that it's not working that I'm simply unaware of? Is there some critical function of textbooks I'm missing? I certainly haven't tried fully replacing all the normal functions of textbooks with iPads yet, such as doorstops, anchors, body-building equipment, or fly swatters. But as far as learning tools go, they seem to be working for us.

Re:I'm not sure I understand the premise (1)

khellendros1984 (792761) | about 10 months ago | (#45076289)

Tablets for education usually have electronic copies of textbooks on them, along with other software that won't usually come with a device you'd pick up in a store.

The Miracle of Gorilla Glass (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45075449)

Technical background: Gorilla Glass [tikalon.com] (Tikalon Blog, August 11, 2010).

What did they expect for that price? (0)

flibbidyfloo (451053) | about 10 months ago | (#45075475)

"GCS had leased over 15 thousand of the tablets (at a cost of $200 a year)"

That's less than 13 cents each. What kind of quality did they expect??

Re:What did they expect for that price? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45075779)

$200.00 / 15000 ~= 0.0133 cents each

Re:What did they expect for that price? (3, Funny)

6ULDV8 (226100) | about 10 months ago | (#45076065)

>> That's less than 13 cents each. What kind of quality did they expect??
> $200.00 / 15000 ~= 0.0133 cents each

He's still technically correct, and that's the best kind of correct. Your example would be $0.0133 each. I'm heading back to cartoons now.

Re:What did they expect for that price? (1)

plover (150551) | about 10 months ago | (#45076197)

Be kind. He learned his math on a tablet.

Same problem, different form factor (5, Interesting)

chill (34294) | about 10 months ago | (#45075489)

Half-a-dozen years ago when my daughter was in high school, the district piloted a "laptop progam" where all the books and assignments were done electronically. They had some deal with Microsoft and Dell with "deals" on MS Office Student and some Dell laptops.

I threw a fit and insisted we would NOT be purchasing the "required" laptops and would provide one for our daughter. The school relented because I made such a pain of myself.

Off to E-Bay I went and purchased an older, used Panasonic Toughbook. Not the latest, but ran all the software and rugged enough to stop small caliber weapons fire.

The breakage rate of those cheap, plastic Dell laptops was horrific. High schoolers casually tossed them on desks or in their locker or bookbags, resulting in over 90% of them getting returned for repair by the end of the year.

We ended up selling the Toughbook to a student entering the program in the next year. It had held up fine.

Computers given to students need to be mil-spec ruggedized if you want them to remain usable for any period of time.

Re:Same problem, different form factor (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45075945)

Maybe your little fucking cunt brats need to learn to be responsible. Most of the problems society has today is from people not having to be responsible for their actions. You're only adding to the issue.

Re:Same problem, different form factor (1)

cpt kangarooski (3773) | about 10 months ago | (#45076595)

Off to E-Bay I went and purchased an older, used Panasonic Toughbook. Not the latest, but ran all the software and rugged enough to stop small caliber weapons fire.

Did you ever put that to the test, or were you just assuming it was that tough?

Re:Same problem, different form factor (1)

chill (34294) | about 10 months ago | (#45076647)

There is an old video ad on some models of Toughbook stopping a .22 and still operating. Our high school wasn't that bad, so I took their word for it. :-)

Re:Same problem, different form factor (1)

cpt kangarooski (3773) | about 10 months ago | (#45076763)

Well as long as the video went something like this [youtube.com] .

Lack of iPads in the news (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45075499)

This comes as no surprise to those of us that work for public schools (including me, staying safely anonymous). What is a surprise is the lack of negative news for iPad roll-outs. The latest one in my county was to a tiny public school in the country of 500 students. They were given iPads a week before school started. On opening day there was a dozen broken sent in plastic bags to my office with a 'Pls repair ASAP! Thx' post-it note applied. After a month the pile had risen to 50. We expect to go into Christmas break with over a hundred broken.

Of course we will not be canceling the program. The way that the Apple contracts are set up with the administration means that the parents have to reimburse the school district $1000 for a totaled device, $400 for a screen, and $100 for anything else. No opt out, as our textbooks are all digital now. It is considered a self-funding project, IT costs included.

I apologize for the rant. It is just this tablet craze is more of a detriment, nomatter the manufacturer.

Re:Lack of iPads in the news (1)

mosb1000 (710161) | about 10 months ago | (#45076271)

I will never understand how people break these things. Surely they realize they can't just throw them around and expect them to continue functioning. Do they just forget they have them in their hand and drop them? If you have this problem, do you also break a lot of bowls and plates and glasses? How do people go through life if they can't keep one of these devices in one piece?

Re:Lack of iPads in the news (2)

cusco (717999) | about 10 months ago | (#45076355)

Do you not remember being a teenager? I couldn't even keep a car in one piece.

Re: Lack of iPads in the news (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45076713)

It should be illegal for a school to do anything like that. Patents shouldn't have to pay for the bad decisions of school boards and administrators. I propose passing a law requiring school boards and administrators to reimburse and pay for any such fees that impact more than x % of students out of there own pockets. x would require some research, but 6% sounds like a good target.

Students are Hard on Hardware (4, Interesting)

ideonexus (1257332) | about 10 months ago | (#45075501)

Unfortunately, this mirrors my own experience [ideonexus.com] when I bought all the kids on my street laptops on the condition that they spend weeks with me learning how to handle and respect them. One year later, every single laptop was inoperable. Of course, every one of these kids owned an iPod touch... with a broken screen, so there were warning signs.

I think the problem is the portability of these devices. The reason I didn't break my Commodore 64 when I was a kid is because it sat on a desk. If it was portable, I probably would have shattered or lost it at some point too. I don't think we can make these devices rugged enough to survive your average teenager.

Re:Students are Hard on Hardware (1)

lgw (121541) | about 10 months ago | (#45075721)

I treated my C64 pretty roughly, taking it to parties where absolutely no software copying happened at all, and it was fine. Of course, it wasn't made of glass.

Making toys for kids out of glass? Does that really sound like a good idea?

Re:Students are Hard on Hardware (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45076155)

taking it to parties where absolutely no software copying happened at all
 
D00d!!! J3w mus+ b3 da 1337 haxx0zz!!!!
 
Seriously, why the fuck do fucking shitballs act like they were all hot pirating warez? Jesus fucking christ. A copy of Maverick and a box of blanks. You're king fucking shit.

Re:Students are Hard on Hardware (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about 10 months ago | (#45076291)

What, candy wasn't working anymore, so you went with laptops?

Re:Students are Hard on Hardware (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45076551)

From your experience:

[...] not a single student correctly answered a question about hard drive maintenance with “defragment” despite an exercise in class defragmenting their own hard drives.

Defragmentation is not hard (disc) drive maintenance, it's a file system maintenance procedure. Granted, it might improve the operation and lifespan of the HDD, but that's a side effect -- because what you maintain is the file system, in order that your HDD will operate better.

Oblig. (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 10 months ago | (#45075505)

Sad trombone [youtube.com]

YOU FAIL IT (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45075515)

startling turn Than make a sincere Is also a miserable only way to go: antibacterial soap. share. *BSD is to die. I will jam posts. Due to the that the project prospects are As it is licensed the reaper BSD's [nero-online.org] least I won't of Walnut Creek, of a solid dose impaired its Abysmal sales and FreeBSD is already only way to go: Series of exploding = 1400 NetBSD yes, I work for to have to decide the party in strret 1. Therefore it's Raadt's stubborn I thought it was my sorely diminished. every chance I got The fruitless represents the but it's not a fucking confirmed: for *BSD because perform keeping Will not work. And subscribers. Please conversation and BUWLA, or BSD then Jordan Hubbard FreeBSD core team fly...don't fear came as a complete

High Cost (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 10 months ago | (#45075529)

$600 and they don't even own them.

WTF? (1)

twotacocombo (1529393) | about 10 months ago | (#45075539)

When I was in school, from about 8th grade on, we were always told the schools didn't have enough money to supply even pens and paper. The teachers had to shell out for it, or we had to bring our own. Class sizes grew as teachers were cut. After school activities lacked funding. But now this is the second time in a month I've heard of entire school districts issuing tablets to their students? Where'd this money come from? Why is it being spent on toys? Toys that have their own costs to upkeep and repair, and are of dubious value in the first place?

Re:WTF? (4, Interesting)

AK Marc (707885) | about 10 months ago | (#45076367)

Schools don't have money, school districts have money. The per-student in-class spending on students is very low in the US, but the per-student education "costs" in the US are among the highest in the world. We pay administrators, management, testing organizations, textbook deals, and all that at premium prices, but teacher pay and conditions aren't that good.

So this is logical (even if horribly broken). The district bought them, not the schools, even if they "gave" them to only one school as a pilot. At my school (a public school that has been on the list of the best in the country), the teachers volunteered for most after school activities. Only sports were sponsored. So academic contests were often held under the banner of UIL, the same organization that handles sports in Texas. So the math contests were "sports" on paper. And yes, I got a High School Letter in "sports" because of my participation in math (and other) contests.

Why oh why? (1)

onyxruby (118189) | about 10 months ago | (#45075555)

Why are we giving teenagers tablets in school? Unless were replacing all of their textbooks (were not) this is nothing but a feel good program that is going to waste a bunch of money. I say this as someone that has worked at an educational software company and worked at a very large University.

Tablets are nothing more than content consumption devices for 99% of the people that have them (the keyboard was the one thing MS got right with the Surface). They tend to have piss poor enterprise support tools and they can pretty much all be bypassed by doing a factory reset. They are also easy to steal, portable and a financial burden to the staff that must work with them.

Show me a school that can replace all of their textbooks with tablets, saving the absurd costs of textbooks and I will reconsider my opinion. For everyone else they are nothing more than a feel good waste of money. Remember, the point of school is not merely to consume what you are taught, but to create content showing said consumption was successful. Once upon a time we had a special name for this concept - homework.

Accountability (4, Insightful)

EMG at MU (1194965) | about 10 months ago | (#45075567)

How much do you want to bet that no one in the school district will be held accountable for the inept management of this program?

Anecdotally: I did IT for my school district between graduating high school and going to university and I can attest that the administrators were completely clueless about technology. Their job was to sign contracts, so they would go out to lunch/dinner with some sales guy who would promise the sky and then when it failed they would move on to the next vendor who would promise to make all the problems better.

Examples: Entire classroom logs onto machines (30+), of course roaming profile is turned on so everything has to propagate. 30 machines into one switch, one connection from that switch to some other switch that has one connection to the server. No backbone, no QOS, and it never occurred that they didn't need the stupid roaming profile enabled.
So of course all the teachers complained everything was slow. The Admins, not understanding networking and what a bottleneck is (except the ones they had at lunch) threw out all the completely functional machines and bought new top of the line shit from Dell. Problem still not solved, so they got some network vendor to come in and check it out. Result: the school installed fiber to EVERYWHERE. Every classroom had fibre run to it so the stupid roaming profile could propagate. Now there was nothing going on in this school that required the hardware and bandwidth that they had, the most computer centric class was keyboarding. (poverty stricken school district is another issue).

I guess I'm cynical but I hold most school district administrators in contempt. They have no adult supervision, the head IT guy is usually some ex teacher with a information systems cert. You as a vendor, could walk into the room and say "your johnson rod is miscalibrated, it will cost $10,000 to calibrate and all the problems will go away" and they will all say "Yep thats what I suspected, cut this man a check. And they will tell the Superintendent they fixed all the computer problems. No independent oversight, no audit.

Didn't some school district recently find out it bought tens of thousands of dollars of extra equipment from HP or Cisco because no one in the district could tell a IP switch from a railroad switch?

I was wrong it was the state goverment [slashdot.org]

Re:Accountability (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45076557)

You as a vendor, could walk into the room and say "your johnson rod is miscalibrated, it will cost $10,000 to calibrate and all the problems will go away"

You people are paying way too much.

I can get my johnson rod recalibrated for $300 & an eighth ounce of coke.

Failure rate (1)

hawguy (1600213) | about 10 months ago | (#45075597)

The Amplify tablet now has a record for poor construction quality and a breakage rate that is 12 times higher than what Squaretrade reported in early 2012 for the iPad 2."

But what's the failure rate for iPads loaned to (but not owned by) K-12 students?

I'd imagine that kids are harder on tablets than (most) adults, especially if they are not owned by the kids who know they'll get a new one if theirs breaks -- even more so if they are putting it in and out of a backpack all day long to carry it to classes and back and forth to home.

As a student in Guilford County.. (4, Interesting)

Tifer (2644417) | about 10 months ago | (#45075613)

Well, a high school student in Guilford County, I thought this program would fail from the very beginning. I go to a private school that issues laptops to students starting in 6th grade (except WE buy them and own them individually, not, say, the state) and continuing through 12th grade. Students at my school break their laptops all the time--screens crack, keys pop out, power cords explode, etc. Most damages are covered by the laptops' warranties. We took classes for a year on properly maintaining electronics and we STILL end up with cases of powderized hard drives every year. It was hard for me to believe that MY state would pay such huge sums of money for thousands of dubiously-effective devices that are known to shatter when dropped. There's no way not to sound like a snob saying this, but I can't see many public school students being particularly careful with these tablets. The students at my school took classes in handling our laptops, paid for them with our own money, and STILL pay out the ass fixing the things every year because so many of them do not respect computers. I haven't read the literature on tablets in education, but I didn't think this was a cost-effective program and I predicted that 50% of the tablets would be MIA or KIA by the end of the first school year. I'm glad I won't get to a chance to prove myself right, but it's a shame that nobody at any point in the process of rolling out these tablets questioned the feasibility of it all.

Re:As a student in Guilford County.. (1)

maccodemonkey (1438585) | about 10 months ago | (#45076111)

It was hard for me to believe that MY state would pay such huge sums of money for thousands of dubiously-effective devices that are known to shatter when dropped. There's no way not to sound like a snob saying this, but I can't see many public school students being particularly careful with these tablets. The students at my school took classes in handling our laptops, paid for them with our own money, and STILL pay out the ass fixing the things every year because so many of them do not respect computers. I haven't read the literature on tablets in education, but I didn't think this was a cost-effective program and I predicted that 50% of the tablets would be MIA or KIA by the end of the first school year. I'm glad I won't get to a chance to prove myself right, but it's a shame that nobody at any point in the process of rolling out these tablets questioned the feasibility of it all.

Having worked in a one to one deployment, there's an easy way to deal with this: make the students get their own insurance on the laptops. Damage is paid for, and students get to pay a deductible.

Sure, eventually the insurance company will figure out they got a bad deal, and students will still break their machines and complain when they're forced to pay a deductible, but students eventually get tired of paying for breakage, and even if they break things it's not on the state's dime.

After years of doing this with laptops I heard my former employer switched to iPads, and things have gotten pretty quiet. Less moving parts to break, and even when they do break, the iPad goes in a box back to Apple, insurance pays for repairs, and a new one shows up. Most complicated thing that IT techs have to do during the year is put the iPad back in the box to send it back, and then open the box when it arrives.

The mistake these people made was buying a solution that was unproven and likely had poor MDM. Don't rely on a solution that claims it's damage proof, just plan on kids breaking them in the first place and work from there.

Re:As a student in Guilford County.. (2)

Zaelath (2588189) | about 10 months ago | (#45076313)

There's no way not to sound like a snob saying this, but I can't see many public school students being particularly careful with these tablets.

That's because you are a snob, it's simple really.

I've seen many public school students that care for everything they're given like Faberge eggs because they don't get much of anything, and I've seen private school kids destroy their own property because it's not the latest thing and their parents won't replace a working unit.

Neither anecdote is applicable for all people of either class.

Re:As a student in Guilford County.. (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | about 10 months ago | (#45076679)

Why does everyone seem to think that a school spending $200 per student / per year for a piece of equipment is a "bad thing"? I'm not saying there aren't other higher priorities for the school budget, what I'm saying is that if education was funded properly in the first place $200/yr/student would not be seen as a "waste" by a reasonable person. It's only seen as an extravagance because they are given fuck all money for anything else, including well educated teachers!!!!

Today's internet is a great way to teach kids how to learn for themselves, it's a natural human skill that should be rewarded/encouraged in children and continuously sharpened in adulthood. Adults only need to steer a child's natural curiosity and offer guidance on how to "look up" a new subject of interest. The internet is conceptually no different to the way my parent's/teacher's told to me to "look it up" in the dictionary, the atlas, or the "family encyclopaedia" back when I grew up in the 60's. Of course, the internet is cheaper, has a broader range of content, is more relevant, more up to date, more detailed, and more convenient than any encyclopaedia. In fact it comes much closer to the "sum of mankind's knowledge" than any bricks and mortar library ever built or dreamt of, why wouldn't you want every student to have unfettered access 24x7?

As an example of that, my 4yo granddaughter has a habit of getting up at 4.30am, sneaking into mum and dad's room to retrieve mum's ipad, then retreating back to her own room to browse youtube videos. That might not sound an 'educational activity' but she is doing what a 4yo does best, feeding her insatiable curiosity.

Intrinsic Value (1)

Voltas (222666) | about 10 months ago | (#45075621)

I have deployed computers and devices in a manufacturing setting. The number one factor in ensure that a device or even rugged terminals is to make sure your putting stuff on it that makes the users job easier or benefits the user directly. Quality checking systems, work reporting tools, extra work when its functioning will DOOM a device. These things are breaking because they have homework on them...I'm really sad to say.

interesting data point (1)

peter303 (12292) | about 10 months ago | (#45075645)

I wonder if this typical for large classroom tablet projects.

What could possibly go wrong? (1)

jamesl (106902) | about 10 months ago | (#45075661)

iPad -- It's mine. I paid for it. If it breaks it's gone or I have to pony up for a new one.

Amplify Tablet -- Somebody gave it to me. If it breaks, it's their problem and money, not mine.

Middle School students -- the most careful, cautious and responsible segment of public school students.

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (2)

Just Brew It! (636086) | about 10 months ago | (#45076711)

Bingo. Comparing the breakage rate for tablets that have been handed out to middle schoolers to that for tablets which have been bought by (and presumably used mostly by) adults is meaningless.

That said, if the contract stipulated that they were supposed to have Gorilla Glass screens and they didn't come so equipped, then that's fraud. If fraud is proven, then hopefully this results in some hefty financial penalties and/or jail time for those responsible.

I kinda' get it ... (1)

JustSomeBrewer (3389637) | about 10 months ago | (#45075669)

I think it really comes down to $200 + the cost of e-(text)books a year per student versus the price of buying dead tree textbooks.

I'm not sure if we're there yet, economically. But a couple things come to mind. First, my grade 7 student carts home about 12 pounds' worth of textbooks every night. 1 tablet v. those books? I'm down with that. Second, I've heard speculation that e-books would give publishers and school districts more power when it comes to keeping creationism out of non-hillbilly states -- the cost of creating and distributing separate editions (say, 1 right edition and 1 for Texas) would plummet.

I'm also reminded that I came from a relatively poor school board. My high school physics and chemistry texts were 20 and 15 years old respectively. The chemistry book was not horrible. But the physics text, from the mid 60s, missed out on a little development called The Standard Model of Particle Physics ... by a decade.

Re:I kinda' get it ... (3, Interesting)

AK Marc (707885) | about 10 months ago | (#45076503)

The weight of books is an issue. About 10% of the students in my school had weight-related issues diagnosed (scoliosis in girls was common). I didn't find out until later that wearing a backpack one-strapped would lead to deformity (I had a doctor raise it as an issue when I broke a shoulder in a sporting accident). I couldn't be "fixed" because I was asymmetrical to begin with. When my kids get to school age, that's a fight I'm willing to fight. They shouldn't be forced to carry 20% of their body weight around on their backs regularly. An electronic device makes much more sense.

The scammers win again (1)

leftside defender (1482221) | about 10 months ago | (#45075675)

quick and easy way to make money is to device a quick fix tablet for schools that you know school kids will break after rigorous use.

NewsCorp's tablet engineers on loan from Fox News (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45075685)

FNC is declaring the tablets reliable.

Require telescreens in every middle class home (1)

uCallHimDrJ0NES (2546640) | about 10 months ago | (#45075689)

This way, we can have the children use their own electronics and watch them doing it. If they break it, it's their parents who have to pay. Also, we can test the kids early and determine who is destined for a manual labor job. Skip ahead to manual labor training for those kids. They don't need tablets, or telescreens either. What do you think, comrades?

flawed concept (1)

Gravis Zero (934156) | about 10 months ago | (#45075693)

average in-use lifespans:

consumer grade --- 6 months
commercial grade - 12 months
military grade --- forever (nobody is going to haul that brick around!)
aerospace grade -- until it falls out of orbit

The rabbit hole (5, Informative)

sdinfoserv (1793266) | about 10 months ago | (#45075797)

Studies have shown no increase in math and reading scores with the adoption of high technology - use of tables or laptops. The moral of the story being there's no magic bullet to replace old fashion reading, writing and arithmetic. Just because it's sexy, doesn't mean you need to spend the money.

Re:The rabbit hole (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45076677)

I don't have any vague, imaginary studies to mention, but of all the programs similar to this one discussed on /. I don't remember a single one aiming to replace reading, writing and arithmetic. I have seen some aimless ones, though. The objective, when clear, is always to improve the way things are done, not what is done.

I am skeptic of the recent (and relatively early) efforts, but there certainly are good uses for technology in primary and secondary education. Hell, the use of a simple computer and projector in a classroom can do wonders to a class about physics, for instance. It's almost as important as having a laboratory for kids to try things out and experiment.

Re:The rabbit hole (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45076719)

The way I see it, kids already have devices like those, or at least computers at home. So, essentially, these programs are only forcing the students to use tools they already had but chose not to use for those purposes. I would rather see school making the digital content available and providing computer laboratories or devices to kids who can't afford them.

North Carolina?!? (0)

sdinfoserv (1793266) | about 10 months ago | (#45075829)

Or the reason they break is because the children get on the internet and read about things like evolution and accurate history. North Carolina parents, in a fit of conservative rage are throwing the tables against the wall.

Ender's Game (1)

Ambitwistor (1041236) | about 10 months ago | (#45075853)

We can't just go into Guilford County North Carolina and pluck a picture out of school files. Because all the computers are broken.

Shoddy Contract Management (2)

Kozar_The_Malignant (738483) | about 10 months ago | (#45075863)

> but GCS has stated that the tablets broke because they lacked a layer of Gorilla Glass. This was listed in the contract, but the school district did not confirm the condition of the tablets before accepting them

This is a $3,000,000.00 contract and no one thought to check the product specs against the contract specs. Heads need to roll, and certainly would where I work. And, yes I work for a government agency.

Re:Shoddy Contract Management (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about 10 months ago | (#45076541)

It was a shrewd business move. They don't pay for the first year because they weren't delivered what was contracted, right? So they got a year use for free.

Re:Shoddy Contract Management (1)

wiredlogic (135348) | about 10 months ago | (#45076675)

Gorilla glass it not made of adamantium. It will break just as easily when put in the hands of careless students who have no sense of ownership or desire to take care of their new bauble. Even a polymer screen could be wrecked by sufficiently motivated student.

This is the price of idiots who think that deploying technology is all they need to do to "think of the children".

Re:Shoddy Contract Management (2)

Just Brew It! (636086) | about 10 months ago | (#45076737)

Agree 100% with your disdain for "technology as panacea". However, if these tablets did not meet the specs stipulated in the contract that's still fraud regardless of whether it was a good idea in the first place.

BroKEN, not 'broke'... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45076237)

"10% of Amplify Tablets Broke in Their First Month"

No...

"10% of Amplify Tablets BrokeN in Their First Month", by selfish, illiterate little shits.

There, fixed that for ya.

NC school system = one of the worst in the US. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45076443)

Tablets are the least of the worries of anyone who has a child
attending school in North Carolina.

Look at the test scores compared to all other school systems
in the US, and weep for the children who are forced to attend
school in North Carolina, which is one of the most backward shithole
states in the entire US.

Lease??? There's a batter way to spend money (1)

wiredlogic (135348) | about 10 months ago | (#45076717)

A much better way to spend taxpayer's money would be to invest $3M the first year to buy their own tablets at a bulk rate for less than $200 apiece with the remainder going to deployment costs. Then every subsequent year spend $2M to pay for internal support (10 IT people with decent benefits) with an additional $1M set aside to fund replacements for broken and outdated devices.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...