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LA Unified’s iPads pilot phase continues on bumpy road: schools back out, suffer technical glitches

iPads in Schools

Grant Slater/KPCC

A student uses an iPad during class in Huntington Park.

The Los Angeles Unified School District is continuing to experience problems with its iPad project - with some schools opting out of the pilot phase and others experiencing Wi-Fi network problems.

All pilot schools were slated to receive their iPads by the end of the month, but deployment has hit several snags. Four schools have backed out of pilot phase saying they want to see more planning, said district spokeswoman Shanon Johnson. She would not release the names of the schools.

Other schools seeing delays and some students that have received the devices are running into problems using them.

The Diego Rivera Learning Complex, in the heart of South Los Angeles, was one of the first to get iPads. But students and staff complain dated infrastructure isn’t keeping up.

"The Wi-Fi seems to be shutting down from time to time,” said Robert Sandoval, a freshman at the school. “Since we are all signed into LAUSD, they all shut off.”

Another student, Rosary Sea, first noticed the issue in her chemistry class while putting together a PowerPoint.

“The images wouldn’t come up,” said Sea. “Nothing.” Her teacher had no choice but to extend the assignment's due date, she said.

Her classmate Karla Veliz said many of the iPads have been confiscated as a reaction to some missing tablets across the district.

“We already started to download books for class," she said. But then the tablets were taken away. "Now we look for them in public libraries."

Diego Rivera's principal did not return calls for comment. L.A. Unified schools contacted by KPCC said they were instructed to refer iPad inquiries to district headquarters.

"There have been some minor technical issues this week related to a node in the Gardena area that have had minor effects on network performance at some campuses in the area,” officials from L.A. Unified said in a written statement. The district said every school site can connect, but connection may be slow or limited.

Some school board members have complained that problems with the rollout have been reveled by news reports, rather than by the district. The board has called a special meeting for district officials to give a full report on the program - including issues of parent responsibility for the devices - on Oct. 29.

The district's Bond Oversight committee is scheduled to vote on whether to spend bond funds on the full $1 billion district-wide iPad rollout the next day.

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