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Apple is trying to rope 'em in early

Los Angeles students will receive iPads for their studies thanks to a recent $30 million contract with Apple.

Apple scored the $30 million contract from the L.A. Unified School District this week, which will deploy iPads to all students throughout 47 campuses. 

The Board of Education voted 6 to 0 on Tuesday to approve the contract after receiving positive input about iPad use from teachers and students. The iPad was also the least expensive device. 

The L.A. Unified School District is paying $678 per iPad, which will come pre-loaded with educational software, but won't include a keyboard. 

The school district also committed to spending "hundreds of millions of dollars" with Apple over the next two years, since they chose the company as their only tablet vendor. 

The iPads have a three-year warranty that includes free replacement devices up to 5 percent of the value of the purchase price. 

The $30 million for Apple's iPads is a steep contract price, but the L.A. district insisted on the measure because new state and national tests will be taken on computers, and it doesn't want its students falling behind on computer skills. Also, the software will help students in the classroom and after school for studying. 

However, there are many concerns floating around the new agreement with Apple. Chief Strategy Officer Matt Hill complained that the funding came from facility bonds, which could have been used for construction instead. The teachers union wanted the money to be used for the hiring of new teachers. 

Aside from school staff and officials, Microsoft has a beef to pick with the L.A. Unified School District too, and I bet you can guess why. That's right -- it wants its Surface tablets to be adopted by school districts so that students start using the Windows operating system early, and this will hopefully lead to loyalty to the OS as they upgrade over the years. 

Robyn Hines, senior director of state government affairs for Microsoft, said that using only one platform throughout the district would limit options, such as innovations/price cuts from other companies and students' ability to learn platforms they'd find in the workplace (such as Windows). 

Last week, Microsoft announced that it was giving away 10,000 Surface RT tablets to teachers at the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE). The idea was to spread RT adoption in schools by supplying teachers with the devices and even training them how to use it. Microsoft is also expected to announce its "Microsoft Surface for education limited time offer" this month, which will offer $199 Surface RTs (normally retails for $499) to schools and colleges interested in adopting the tablets. If the schools want a touch keyboard with their Surface RT, the total price is $249 (retail $599) and with a type keyboard, the cost is $289 (retail $629). 
The offer will reportedly run until August 31, 2013.

Microsoft is also trying to expand Surface RT's capabilities by employing Qualcomm's Snapdragon processors for the next generation. 

Apple has been making its way into classrooms around the U.S. for years now. In 2011, Maine spent $200,000 to supply its kindergarteners with iPads. Later that year, the iPad entered other elementary schools, such as a third-grade classroom in Millstone, New Jersey. 

Aside from the $30,000 L.A. Unified School District contract, Apple is using other ways to pull kids into its platform early: Apple Camp.

Apple Camp is a three-day, creative workshop for children ages 8-12. It will be held at Apple Retail Stores, and allows kids to film footage and create songs using iMovie and GarageBand on a Mac. After the three days are complete, the children present their work at the Apple Camp Film Festival.

Source: The Los Angeles Times

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Bad idea
By Tone12 on 6/21/2013 9:19:37 PM , Rating: 2
This is a bad move by the LA school system. I worked as a math teacher for 5 years before recently taking my Comp Sci degree and heading for a career with less headaches. I'm all for teaching kids technology and science but entering this contract with Apple was a bad idea. You CANNOT go by what the students tell you in surveys. It is naive to give it much weight. The vast majority of the students will lie and go with what they think is easier (or cooler) rather than with what will help them learn the best. You know who the favorite teacher of the majority of students is? The one who goes the easiest on them. Unfortunately, very few students are really interested in maximizing their educational opportunities.

Why is it a bad idea? First of all, they aren't the cheapest option by any stretch of the imagination. The pricetag alone demonstrates that. Second, the majority of systems they will deal with as adults are not Mac based. Most importantly, they are more of a distraction and waste of money than an aide to education. Yes, the students should be using computers, but tablets, especially Apple's, tend to be less powerful, more expensive, and harder to monitor than a lab of stationary desktops. In my own experience, I've seen many times students were on Facebook or some other site instead of doing their assignment- this is despite those sites being blocked. One student will find (or be shown) a way on there via proxies or other techniques and then it quickly spreads to the other students. Tablets are largely just another classroom distraction, like cell phones, that tend to inhibit the learning process more than aiding it for the majority of students. Of course, a tech company would never admit this.

Then there are other considerations like the smaller screens on tablets being harder for visually impaired students to see, their more prone to being damaged in the classroom, and if you let them go out of the classroom there's a good chance of them being lost, damaged or stolen. Anyone who has seen how many textbooks get damaged and destroyed in a typical school will know what I'm talking about, and those are far less fragile than a tablet computer. Kids steal backpacks, throw out contents while "burritoing" them, throw them up in the air for no reason, etc.

Not only that you need more IT personnel just to maintain them. I have yet to meet a teacher who felt that adding tablet computers to the classroom was an overall positive experience, and that's even before considering the hefty price tag.

We are too quick to try and implement technology in the classroom, even more than necessary, and administrators often care more about how things "look" than how effective they are. Administrators will often implement a change so they can seem cutting edge, when the previous method worked just as well, if not better. This is the sort of thing happening with tablets. They will go "Look at how modern we are. We're using the latest technology." But the fact is that pen and paper is still, overall, a far better tool for educating students than unnecessary and expensive technology for the classroom, like tablets, tend to be.

RE: Bad idea
By Tone12 on 6/21/2013 9:25:51 PM , Rating: 2
Wish I didn't type my post so quickly as I typed "their" instead of "they're" in my 3rd paragraph. Sorry for the error. Being a former teacher, I hate it when I make a mistake like that.

"Google fired a shot heard 'round the world, and now a second American company has answered the call to defend the rights of the Chinese people." -- Rep. Christopher H. Smith (R-N.J.)

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