Last month, the Los Angeles Unified School District decided to use Apple Inc.’s iPads to modernize public education. The $30 million, two-year contract was accepted unanimously by the school board.
Forty-seven out of 70 LAUSD high schools will participate in this new upgrade. Students will access a variety of educational material, including digital texts, via the iPads.
In an interview with the LA Times, Superintendent Jaime Aquino said that the iPad “received the highest score by students and teachers” who tested different tablets. The iPads were also the least expensive option.
The decision, however, has been criticized by some.
Microsoft, Apple’s longtime rival, has expressed concern that the board made too extreme a decision by deciding upon one product. Senior director Robyn Hines urged reconsideration of the decision, which could “cut off the district from future price reductions and innovations.”
Teachers’ union president Warren Fletcher urged that resources should be focused on rehiring staff instead of new technology. But chief strategy officer Matt Hill argued that funding from faculty bonds cannot be used to hire regular teachers.
Some LAUSD students, such as Gabby Abella, support the decision. “It saves paper,” she said in an interview. “Kids our age use technology on a daily basis. The iPads would help motivate us to do our work.”
However, student Lisa Ji voiced her concerns that the iPads will not be the best use of resources. “They’re really expensive,” Ji stated. “It’s a waste of money if [students have] different devices [they] can use.”
Parents have also expressed concerns. “The use of electronics within schools might lead to students forgetting how to spell certain words or use certain grammatical concepts,” said parent Karen Ju. “Students can lose a sense of conversation, and the only way of communication might become electronics instead of face-to-face interactions.”
Despite these issues, the district will be providing 35,000 of the devices to students at 47 LAUSD schools for the 2013-14 school year.