DEAR APPLE/ Education Division:
I am a writer interested in the evolution of tablets in education, and I should add, a big fan of iPad as a constant user and a former educator at the LAUSD, where confounding reports keep erupting from media, teachers and school officials about the costs, preparation, warranty, incidental expenses, apps, Internet access as well as charging, synching and a Keyboard catastrophe that will cost another $37million?, I believe, but these reports are not consistent or credible given what I know about Apple, iPads, the operations and purchase of school technology.
Can you clarify some issues for me so I can continue my project and present the most accurate information to help readers understand the advantages and challenges for this technology in schools? The sooner the better since Dr. Deasy is launching them at this time.
1. Were these deals forged with completed inventory of the options available? How is this done to assure customer satisfaction and ease in installing and operating these units at sites where fixtures, Internet, security and function are potentially not compatible with the technology?
2. When we used MAC in class we had the units in a cart on wheels called a COW. Is this a concession to the synch and charge needs? Is it an Internet facilitator? Do these come with the package or figure into the unit costs( which keep escalating far beyond retail in reports in media and at BOE).
Are there options without that cart?
3. What size are LAUSD iPads? 16, 32 or 64?
4. Is an additional tech support afforded to the district?
Is training afforded to teachers and administration or student body through Apple?
Are either of these an additional cost to the district?
5. Are the IPads still useful, as mine is, without access to Internet?
6. Are the units modified to block inappropriate content?
Will they allow purchase of personal apps,films, music and books by the students?
Are texts and material downloaded at school and is this also removed with/ without supervision?
Has the unit been afforded any extra protection for kids and included directions about cleaning, sun or high heat threat and water damage?
7. Is there any series numbers,theft prevention options, GPS or other deterrents that will discourage misuse of these items,which have a great appeal to thieves? This is a concern with the give away aspect we have been told this resource has, as well as the quick grabs at schools and the break ins these may invite for larger heists, etc.
8. We have disturbing price fluctuations and news of constant new expenses, there were discussion of skins, covers, and recently key boards which seem a bit expensive when the price is almost twice what the original iPad contract was quoted. This too has been difficult to keep straight. Is there any way I can see LAUSD / Apple contract or a sample of the various packages you offer to districts?
9. While I know Apple may have a very effective cover with keyboard built in , is there other keyboard options? Would LAUSD be able to purchase keyboards with blue tooth from other vendors? Can you tell me the disadvantage and necessity of a keyboard?
Is it unusual for districts to realize they need options and additional things after the initial purchase?
10 . Does Apple have any support for the district throughout its contract, and will additional costs be added through out that period?
We hear billions beyond the initial $30 million. Will include an estimate the district can save without duty to texts, supplies, supplemental resources, etc?
11. I would like explicit information on the platform for students' work and access to lessons, if you can provide it. I have seen some sites but realize they are evolving.
Does the platform offer access to grades, assignments, complete work and communication with parents?
12. These are areas I see as innovations in education but assume may not be fully considered, can you comment on the company's present use or awareness of these possibilities?
Other possible topics that deserve further explication:
1. Grade entry and calculation
2. Using uploaded grades, student/parent interaction , student data and test scores to evaluate educators?
3. Assuring accurate and efficient attendance, with effective access to PSA, parents, administrators and state reporting sites.
4. What provisions are prepared to address testing practice, documenting student efforts and growth as well as implementing actual test on the tablet to simplify procedure and prevent adult cheating
5, Incredible economic advantages in supplies, texts, reference materials, documentation, personnel efficiency, and fewer opportunities for corruption
6.State, Federal and Public oversight provided in simplified data entry, easy access and programs that simplify the jargon, laws and information so they can have more impact on the course of our children's information
I appreciate your time and hope we can clear up the confusion for teachers, parents and public who have critical reservations about the expensive changes. If people see the possibilities these have, they will share my enthusiasm . We appreciate Apple's commitment to the future of education and the integrity of your products, business practices and customer service.
References for your consideration: