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A few myths and facts about technology, courtesy of LA Unified

Mike Szymanski | September 14, 2015



computer-errorTeachers and students are getting devices with no lessons on how to use them. It’s all about iPads. Students can hack the tablets.

Wrong, wrong, and well, sorta wrong.

That’s the word that LAUSD wants to get out. The computer technology program at LAUSD gets a bad rap. Of course, the botched $1.3 billion iPad implementation and all the bad publicity that came from that could have contributed to the reputation. But, now they’re out to change the image.

First thing’s first. The Instructional Technology Initiative Task Force had to learn the myths from reality before starting to figure how to best add devices into the classroom instruction. More than half of the 50 members raised hands, saying they didn’t know information on a fact sheet handed out by Sophia Mendoza, the interim director of the Instructional Technology Initiative at LAUSD.

“We want to answer all your questions,and get you the answers,” Mendoza said at the group’s first meeting on Sept. 10.

As the district plans to expand computer devices to every school, the task force wants the public to know that it’s not just concentrating on the test schools that have one device per student, the so-called “one-to-one” schools. The district trains teachers, students and on the proper use of the devices being sent home with students

Here are excerpts of the “myths,” according to the district — and reality.

MYTH: There has been widespread student “hacking” of tablets, security breaches and wireless failures.

FACTS: That’s true in the only a literal sense. At the start of the iPad program, as The Los Angeles Times reported, about 300 students at Roosevelt High School figured out how to surf the web by deleting their school profile. The district tech teams were able to figure out a fix.

In its defense, the district pointed out that “less than 1 percent of the 31,000 students involved in Phase 1 (of the device implementation plan).” But no student has hacked into any device; no serious security compromises have occurred, and no wireless systems have failed.

MYTH: This is an Apple iPad program

FACTS: That’s how it started. But one superintendent resignation and FBI investigation later . . .

Now, the program does not center on any particular type of device or brand name. In fact, current phases involve use of Google Chrome Books and Windows laptops in addition to the Apple iPads (of approximately 70,000 devices deployed to one-to-one schools thus far, about one-third are non-Apple devices).

MYTH: There is no district-wide policy stating who is responsible if a tablet is lost or stolen.

FACTS: California law holds families responsible for loss or damage to school property; LAUSD will only enforce this in cases of willful negligence.

Accidents will happen, and the district says it has safeguards to ensure that students can continue to learn without disruption when they occur.

 

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