Weiss, T. (2013) Los Angeles plans to give 640,000 students free iPads, CITE World, July 25

I don’t normally cover k-12 developments, but this one seems pretty significant. Los Angeles Unified School District, the second largest in the USA, will hand out to students 31,000 free iPads in September under a new $30 million program launched by the district. The plan is that all 640,000 students in the LAUSD will receive their own iPad by 2014.

Initial focus is on the digital divide 

Mark Hovatter, the chief facilities executive for the LAUSD, reported:

“We’re targeting kids who most likely don’t have their own computers or laptops or iPads. Their only exposure to computers now is going to be in their schools. We started in schools in neighborhoods where kids didn’t have that much exposure to computers in the past. “

Pre-loaded content

Each student is receiving an iPad pre-loaded with educational applications and other programs that will be used by the students in their studies.

The rationale

1. Tech-ready workers

The most important thing is to try to prepare the kids for the technology they are going to face when they are going to graduate….Workers today in every field, including construction and automotive education, require skills with computers and related technologies, said Hovatter. “We are making sure that everyone is able to take a test electronically. Even in construction, you can’t do those jobs now without having some familiarity with computers. Whatever jobs kids want to have, technology is likely involved. You’re just not going to be able to do well in society if you don’t have some experience”

2. More interactive learning experience

Using the iPads, students and their teachers can better plan and synchronize scheduling, share reference videos and news events, use interactive lessons, and conduct digital reading tests that can be adjusted based on each student’s performance and reading levels.

3. Access to e-textbooks

digital textbooks will be delivered to the iPads through an arrangement with educational books publisher Pearson. Students will also be able to read other books for class assignments using the devices. The digital books also will help the district save money over buying traditional paper-based textbooks, but that wasn’t a main goal of the project.


These are early days, and the $30 million covers only the first 31,000 tablets. The article and other press releases say nothing about teacher preparation, which from past experience will be critical for success. So lots could go wrong.

Nevertheless, university and college instructors should ask themselves: ‘Am I ready to teach students who will arrive tech savvy and expecting me to teach in a tech savvy way?’ It won’t be long before all our students will expect this – if not already.

Thanks to Richard Pinet for directing me to this.


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