LA schools snub iPads in favor of laptops, hybrids

An effort last year to provide iPads to students at 47 Los Angeles schools didn't quite go according to plan.

Lance Whitney Contributing Writer
Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books--one on Windows and another on LinkedIn.
Lance Whitney
2 min read

Lenovo Yoga IdeaPad. CNET

The Los Angeles School District is again trying to share the benefits of technology with students, but this time is taking a more flexible approach.

In a program approved by LA school district officials, 27 high schools have gotten a chance to choose which of six different types of laptops to potentially dole out to students, the Los Angeles Times reported on Sunday. The Board of Education will review contracts on Tuesday that would authorize spending up to $40 million to purchase devices for each of the 27 high schools, said the report. Teachers, students, and administrators will then get a chance to try out the winning laptops this fall to see if the devices should actually be used.

The initiative represents another chance for the school district following a $30 million deal with Apple last year to give an iPad to each student across the 47 campuses of the LA district. That program, though, didn't quite work out as expected. Instead of using their iPads solely for educational reasons, students hacked their way past the security filters to tap into Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and similar sites. As a result, some schools took the iPads away from the students. Distribution of iPads to LA schools is on hold, said the Times, but some school are still scheduled to receive them later this year.

Some of the new machines already chosen by certain schools include the Lenovo Yoga Touch, the Microsoft Surface Pro 2, a Dell Latitude E7240, and Chromebooks. The new arrangement would offer schools the option of a full laptop or a hybrid rather than restricting all students to the iPad.

"The benefit of the new approach is clear," Los Angeles Unified school board member Monica Ratliff said in a statement. "Why would we treat all our students -- whether they are a first-grader or a high school freshman -- as if they all had the same technology needs? They don't...To have a one-device-fits-all approach does not make sense."

Of course, enterprising students can hack a laptop as easily as an iPad. The schools will still face the challenge of how best to secure the devices so that students don't spend all their time hanging out on Facebook.