As schools work to integrate technology and devices into the classroom, the process can be slow and costly. One L.A. school district hopes iPads will revolutionize the learning process and is set to spend $30 Million to equip every student with their own mobile device. In a unanimous vote, the school board approved allocation of funds over a 14 month period to acquire some 30,000 iPads.
The district plans to leverage the iPads in a number of ways. Students will be able to remotely access lessons, assignments and resources, teachers will be able to use the iPad-compatible common core curriculum software and the district will be able to use a new online testing system.
The Los Angeles Unified board Tuesday approved a $30 million contract to buy iPads for 30,000 students, the first phase in an ambitious plan to equip every pupil with a tablet computer within the next 14 months.
The deal is a huge win for Apple, as the district expects to continue with the same vendor as it acquires the technology that can support the new Common Core curriculum launching in 2014, as well as a new online state testing system.
The plan calls for the 47 schools in Phase I to have iPads by year’s end, with the rest of the tablets purchased within 14 months. Money for the project will come from two school bonds – Measure R, approved by voters in 2004, and Measure Y, passed in 2005.
“This is an amazing adventure we’re about to embark on, so hopefully we’re making the right choice,” said board member Tamar Galatzan. “Nothing is perfect, but we’ve made the best choice possible, based on the advice that’s out there. This is the least-expensive option and, hopefully, we’re in for a fruitful relationship.”
The vote was 6-0, with board member Bennett Kayser abstaining because he owns stock in Apple. He and Superintendent John Deasy, another Apple stockholder, left the board room during the discussion.
Facilities chief Mark Hovatter called the decision one of the most important purchases in the district’s history, with the potential to change how teachers teach and students learn.
Students will be able to access online lessons and digital texts and take the online tests that are becoming the norm. Officials also said that digital knowledge is a key component of their goal to prepare every student for college or a job by the time they graduate.
The iPads will cost $678 each, which includes a case and a full slate of learning software, but no keyboard. Money for the project comes from voter-approved bond revenue. Additional costs within the $30 million include hiring about 15 “facilitators,” as well as additional training and support for the first 47 schools.
District officials said they’ve resolved questions about whether students can take the iPads home — they can — and that Apple will have to provide replacements for iPads that are lost, stolen or broken. The devices will also have a three-year warranty.
Affiliated charter schools and charters that are co-located on LAUSD campuses will also be part of the iPad purchase.
LAUSD received more than a dozen proposals for the lucrative contract, and narrowed the field to three finalists — Apple and Arey Jones, which submitted separate plans using Dell and HP tablets. A team of 30 students, teachers and technical experts tested the devices, and Hovatter said Apple scored better than the computers that ran on a Microsoft operating system.