back to article LA schools want multi-million Apple refund after kids hack iPads

The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) has informed Apple that it will not accept continued deliveries of iPads to students, and will be seeking a multi-million-dollar refund from the company. The Instructional Technology Initiative (ITI) – a programme estimated to have cost up to $1.3bn and which would have seen the …

  1. e_is_real_i_isnt

    Good for them

    Being unable to access Pearson content is a win all its own.

    1. Peter Simpson 1
      Childcatcher

      Re: Good for them

      My wife''s a teacher, so I get to see into some of this.

      In my opinion:

      - the textbook companies see a huge payday for little outlay on their part

      - the schools buy into the "elecronic classroom" dream

      - tears ensue when reality sets in -- typically the second or third week of semester

      - websites hang under the load, textbooks with "smart content" too intense for platforms, etc.

      - no way back...kids end up printing out homework pages and handing them in.

      Sometimes, the old ways are best. Nothing wrong with using technology, but making it a key part of the education process is, in my opinion, a mistake.

      // won't even go into the issues of kids without internet at home

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Good for them

        A disturbing trend that I have been seeing with my daughter at university is the textbook/online token combination. This is publishers trying to kill the second hand text book market and they're not being subtle about it.

        To complete a course, my daughter has to either buy a new text book which comes with an "online" token that she has to use to complete the course ($x) or get a second hand textbook and pay $(x-smallamount) for the token on its own. In other words, they're trying to make it more expensive to buy a secondhand book than to buy new.

        The publishers are no longer content with fleecing students for the obscene costs of textbooks, but they're trying to strong-arm themselves into the business of running courses.

        The universities should tell them to FO but of course, they're getting kick-backs from the publishers.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Good for them

          As an academic working in the US.... 20 years ago, the first kickback was that if you wanted to look at a book then they would all (boxes full) be given to you. 15 years ago, if you were writing a book, then the publishers really would go to town. 12 years ago, I left (with some regrets)

        2. Eddy Ito Silver badge

          Re: Good for them

          Don't forget the nice professors who force their own textbook on their students and release updated editions every few years.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Good for them

            > Don't forget the nice professors who force their own textbook on their students and release updated editions every few years.

            Some of them pretty much every year, even for subjects that are not continually updated.

            It's a well-known trick for professors to mandate the latest edition so that you can't buy second hand.

        3. MonkeyCee Silver badge

          Re: Good for them

          Sounds about right. My usual assessment for if a particular university course is going to be utter bullshit (management, 1st year macro economics) is that the textbook is required for the exam, that there is an electronic token for some online course "extras" that serve as our practise exams without giving us access to the old papers, and that a new edition is released every 3 years or less, but there are still a page or so of corrections per chapter. They run to 60 euro+ for first year texts.

          We even had a tutorial on competition and artificial market controls that was looking at the US university (sorry, college) textbook market that had the subject changed at the last minute. Not because we might be smart enough to think "hey wait, that's us too!" but because, um, stuff....

          Was a shame, since it's a great example of market failure, as the person who makes the purchasing decision of which text to buy doesn't have to pay for it. Thus the usual pressures such as lower price or higher quality do not apply, but how much kickback the lecturer gets does.

          Compare this to the math heavy courses where we can get the latest book (40 euro), pdf of latest book (15 euro officially), old copies (10-20 euro) and even a free online one. Course is taught and assessed in english, professor is dutch, and saw no issue with people using a text based in their own language. There's also greater demand for textbooks on things like calculus or probability theory compared to management.

          Since I'm either cycling 35 km a day, or cycling 15km and walking 3km I can either hump 3 texts or put them on a tablet/phone it's a no brainer for me. I also found the free electronic textbooks (they will sell you a physical copy and exam guides) to be of better quality teaching material. The economic ones by a large margin, but that seems to be because a lot of the indoctrination crap has been dropped so you just get to see the theory.

          As for the story, I hate to break it to our lovely school admins, but if you can touch it, you can own it is still true. While I'm still not sold on touch as an interface, it's great for those under 8 years old or so, but I struggle to see anyone producing much on them without using peripherals.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Good for them

        " won't even go into the issues of kids without internet at home"

        (England)

        A few months ago a neighbour's laptop was broken and she begged the loan of one of my spares. Her daughter aged 7 had to do some stage tests for her school. Apparently they had to be completed online - and the school checked the results in the same way. The daughter returned the laptop today with the news that she now had all her certificates for the various tests - and her parents have now been able to afford a replacement.

        Coincidentally their next door neighbour had a similar situation before Easter. Their 12 year old had a secondary school assignment that had to be printed for submission. Luckily there were two spare laptops in my stock.

        I have a dedicated wifi Access Point that can just about cover my corner of the street. It's for emergencies only. It's been useful on a few occasions for neighbours whose broadband was broken - or for people on call while visiting elderly relatives.

    2. Schultz
      WTF?

      Re: Good for them

      So let me get that right, they buy the most expensive tablets on the market and then they lock them down to run only the educational software from a single firm (probably written for the lowest-common-denominator hardware)? What a waste. Maybe they should have started a trial with some cheap Chinese tablets (currently $40).

      The students unlocking the IPads sounds very reasonable. They should make that an assignment!

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It does my withered black heart good

    to see young children following in my, and I'm sure many others, footsteps and outfoxing the hapless IT depts of schools.

    Time honoured tradition and long may it continue.

    1. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

      Re: It does my withered black heart good

      Reminds of my college days on an rm network... Doom on the best machines in college reporting that they're at the otherside of campus.

      Locking out the network admins as they hadn't killed the default admin users... Good times

    2. keithpeter
      Windows

      Re: It does my withered black heart good

      "...to see young children following in my, and I'm sure many others, footsteps and outfoxing the hapless IT depts of schools."

      Some of the earlier generation of outfoxers may now be running the show...

      http://www.pennmanor.net/techblog/1to1devices/#/5

      (Part of what appears to be a small and carefully managed project based in a school with involvement from teaching staff and clever use of peer mentoring).

  3. Ragarath

    The Register has contacted Apple and and is awaiting a response.

    Good luck el'Reg, maybe just maybe this time they will!

    Back on to the story surely with the control over the hardware and ecosystem Apple could lock this down tighter than a... well tight thing.

    I would like to know more about the "hacks" and why oh why did they not recover the money from the students that did not hand them back? Please don't say they were leaving that up to Apple too rather than knowing who they were handing out the expensive toys to?

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      > why did they not recover the money from the students that did not hand them back?

      The kids lost/broke them.

      Of course you could make the kids (or parents) responsible for the loss. But how would you feel if your boss made you take home an expensive piece of equipment everyday and told you that you were responsible for any loss or damage - you would tell him to stick it.

      1. Justin Pasher

        "But how would you feel if your boss made you take home an expensive piece of equipment everyday and told you that you were responsible for any loss or damage - you would tell him to stick it."

        It's called being responsible. If you have the attitude of "I'm not going to take care of something because it doesn't actually belong to me", then maybe people should stop giving you stuff on their dime. Would you rather the boss say "Go buy your own laptop so you are solely responsible for it"? What if you loaned something to a neighbor, and it was lost or stolen. Would you not think the neighbor is accountable for it?

        And in this case, according to the article, the kids were not forced to take them home, they were ALLOWED to take them home (at least until they were "hacked").

        1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

          "the kids were not forced to take them home, they were ALLOWED to take them home"

          These would be kids who are too young to enter into a legal contract. Sorry, the responsibility for the laptops remains with the last legally responsible entity who had them That is the school unless you can persuade each and every parent to take on the burden.

          1. Justin Pasher

            @Ken Hagan

            "These would be kids who are too young to enter into a legal contract. Sorry, the responsibility for the laptops remains with the last legally responsible entity who had them"

            So given that rationale and returning to my previous scenario of a neighbor borrowing something, you'd be perfectly content if the neighbor never returned said item or conveniently lost it since you never had a legal contract between the two of you explaining the terms of the loan?

            I'm not arguing from a LEGAL standpoint. I'm arguing from a responsibility stand point. There are plenty of situations where someone cannot be LEGALLY held responsible for something, but that doesn't make it right or something that should be swept under the rug.

            1. Vector

              @Justin Pasher

              "So given that rationale and returning to my previous scenario of a neighbor borrowing something, you'd be perfectly content if the neighbor never returned said item or conveniently lost it since you never had a legal contract between the two of you explaining the terms of the loan?"

              The difference here is that the school district is mandating these devices for students in the pilot program. How happy would your "neighbor" be if you forced him to borrow some expensive item to be used by his elementary or middle-school aged child and then told him he'd be on the hook for loss/damage?

              The really funny thing in all this is that we, the taxpaying public, were assured repeatedly (and I mean at every opportunity) that the loss of these iPads was not possible because they had tracking hardware and software built right in. As to the hacking, well, big shock there...

              I've thought this whole program was a boondoogle from the start. The district paid practically full price for these things. It's like saying we have to get BMWs for all the drivers education programs or students won't be able learn to drive properly.

        2. chivo243 Silver badge
          Facepalm

          "In 2013, LAUSD administrators backtracked on their policy of allowing students to take their school-issued iPads home after kids in the pilot scheme inevitably subverted the "device management" software to free up their internet and app access."

          So, the pilot program participants blew it... Pilot programs are usually a small percentage of users to gage the usability on a variety of levels. Schools usually take responsibility for pilots as they are small percentages. So in reality, the students in the pilot blew holes in the Admin's plan too - Good work! The pilot participants screwed the pooch on all counts. Been there... Don't get me started.

          If it takes the LAUSD nearly 2 years to cry foul and want cash back, they are drowning and grasping at swords. Good luck against Apple's legal team!

      2. Dan Paul

        They were given an "Attractive Nuisance"

        Lets face it, LA School District handed students these iPADS and knew full well that some of them would get lost, stolen or broken.

        If you put a big dirt hill (attractive nuisance) on a playground and it's known that kids use this space then it is the responsibility of the property owner to prevent the little darlings from breaking their neck while playing on the hill or remove the hill. This is why we do not have sledding hills in many places and there are notes on tickets that state that the customer uses this facility at their own risk.

        In this case, the school gave the students the nuisance and the school is on the hook for them, not the student

      3. Eddy Ito Silver badge

        Not broken

        If they were broken the kids would have been instructed to return the broken iPads so they could be evaluated for repair/exchange/spare parts. They were almost assuredly lost, as in I lost something on ebay but I wasn't too sad since I also found a few dollars on ebay at the same time.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    once again

    a bad idea is enacted in California in spite of exact, reliable and consistent warnings of a big problem. Money is spent anyway while those who support the new thing ignore the concerns.

    then that thing has all the exact concerns and the political animals who refused to pay heed, claim "unintended consequence" or try to blame someone else.

    then those same politicians/political appointees/wannabe politicians do something else stupid, and the Circle of Jerk continues.

    happens with schools, civil infrastructure, legislative action, social policy...yet somehow the individuals are never accountable. Even when the supposed "bad guys" don't even exist with enough numbers or influence to make any sort of trouble if they wanted to.

    1. elDog Silver badge

      Re: once again

      And once again there appears to be some whiff of graft floating around. I'm sure the LAPD will get to the bottom of this.

      1. Eddy Ito Silver badge
        Coffee/keyboard

        Re: once again

        I'm sure the LAPD will get to the bottom of this.

        Thanks elDog, that's quite the knee slapper.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: knee slapper

          Wouldn't "get to the bottom" imply that something else is getting slapped?

    2. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: once again

      You probably know this, but we that are not in California have to remember that California is in the middle of a drought emergency for last couple of years and yet are draining down their reservoirs to the tune of trillions of gallons of water for..... wait for it..... ensuring the survival of a minnow that lives in the rivers and streams that's NOT on the endangered list.

      I can see why there's large chunks of that state that want to secede and either for another state or join a bordering state. Some things go beyond the "not making any sense".

  5. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "there have been challenges"

    Yup.

    Challenge #1: imagining that school children would play nice. Result ? FAIL.

    Challenge #2: thinking that your code was resistant enough to keep children in the straight and narrow. Result ? FAIL.

    Challenge #3: persuading people that not being able to use the core component of the tool (accessing educational content) is just a challenge. Result ? ABJECT FAIL.

    Challenge #4: Persuading the police that you had no idea that your insufficiently tested platform was going to be such a clusterfuck. Result ? PENDING.

    And, as for standing by your performance, I sure hope you will be made to. All the way to prison.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: "there have been challenges"

      Thinking that handing out expensive tablets to children would somehow create a digitally empowered next generation learning environment - when all they were allowed to use them for is to view powerpoint slide type summaries of stuff that is in textbooks

    2. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: "there have been challenges"

      Nailed it Pascal. Upvoted.

    3. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: "there have been challenges"

      Challenge #5 expecting apple to play nice

      Challenge #6 expecting apple software to actually work the way they said it would or providing some support when it doesnt

      My daughters school has issued all the pupils with iPads - she sensibly wont let me play with hers but I get the impression that most useful stuff is done through the school web pages where her 1/6th the price tablet does a better job.

      1. Medixstiff

        Re: "there have been challenges"

        "Challenge #6 expecting apple software to actually work the way they said it would or providing some support when it doesnt"

        Don't get me started on Apple's software QA. They still haven't fixed issues from IOS 6 days, such as changing a recurring calendar entry not updating the entry on the devices calendar but it's fine in Outlook.

        https://discussions.apple.com/thread/4736007?start=15&tstart=0

      2. Triggerfish

        Re: "there have been challenges"

        My friends Occupational Therapy course at uni they were all given Ipads to work with the educational software.....which was based entirely in Flash.

  6. theOtherJT

    Inventory management: We've heard of it...

    When LAUSD bureaucrats subsequently demanded kids return the tablets, only two thirds were actually handed back.

    ...and they don't have records of exactly who has them? Or a signed agreement from a parent/guardian who agreed to pay for it in the event of loss / damage?

    When I was at school we weren't even allowed to take TEXTBOOKS home without having signed for them, what's wrong with these people? Kids BREAK things. It's practically a defining characteristic.

    1. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: Inventory management: We've heard of it...

      When I was at school we got textbooks and tended to hand them in at the end of the year but ISTR there was some form of payment involved somewhere. Still have a copy of my Teachers version of the O'level maths course which I use to scare sixth formers (and their teachers) when arguments about grade inflation come up...

    2. PNGuinn
      Flame

      Re: Inventory management: - TEXTBOOKS

      But in your day - I'm assuming that you're of a mature age like me - The textbook was actually useful, and contained correct information actually worth studying and learning - not a distracting toy to loose / break / sell / hack.

      I'm not referring to current UK textbooks. I'd call them comics except I wouldn't want to get sued by the Beano.

      1. keithpeter
        Windows

        Re: Inventory management: - TEXTBOOKS

        "I'm not referring to current UK textbooks. I'd call them comics except I wouldn't want to get sued by the Beano."

        In fairness, you have to remember that the authors of textbooks are bound by the syllabus they are writing the book to cover. And that syllabus can be changed by the Secretary of State for Education without any need for legislation.

        The 700 page tome I recommend to my adult students seems to cover the GCSE Maths syllabus fairly well, and has some reasonably tough challenge problems in it.

      2. theOtherJT

        Re: Inventory management: - TEXTBOOKS

        Older than I look, younger than I feel ;)

        Still, this was the better part of 15 years ago now, and most of our teachers then were still using rebound copies of books from 20 years earlier. Largely this was because they didn't trust the new ones to contain anything more useful than a list of examinable facts, and seemed to think it was important to teach the kids to understand the subject matter and from this exam passes would follow.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Technology for technology's sake

    We already learned this lesson back in the '90's - it was the government's bright idea that all the students needed was shiny new computers and this would make them smart - all that resulted was a lot of money was spent, some appallingly bad 'educational' software was written, and the machines ended up just being used for internet access, but no actual learning.

    Far better investment it would be to provide the kids with a hackable Raspberry Pi with some open source development tools.

    All of the kids who managed to jailbreak their iPads should be rounded up and placed in magnet schools, congratulations, you've weeded out the smart and curious kids. But of course, this being American educational policy, these are the very kids that will end up in trouble, probably even prosecuted for vandalizing school property.

    1. InfiniteApathy

      Re: Technology for technology's sake

      "machines ended up just being used for internet access, but no actual learning."

      Agreed top to bottom but for the above. I learned a ton from that old mac (sans internet access). I hasten to add that it wasn't only how to avoid a TPK and hunt in Oregon Trail.

      1. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

        Re: Technology for technology's sake

        We used to dream of a mac... All we got in secondary school was a bunch of schnnider comps on gold mono chrome monitors good for tetris and f16 but naff all else.

        1. PNGuinn
          Boffin

          Re: "We used to dream of a mac"

          You 'ad GOLD screens? In our day oll we 'ad wus green.

          An' macs wus fer th' ritch kids.

          Yew aint lived, lad.

          1. Vector

            Re: "We used to dream of a mac"

            "You 'ad GOLD screens? In our day oll we 'ad wus green.

            An' macs wus fer th' ritch kids."

            Luxury!

            We had 3 keypunch machines at the back of the class that we took turns using to punch cards that went into a batch box that got run that night at the administrative offices.

            1. G.Y.

              Re: "We used to dream of a mac"

              Overnight is good -- know a country that had the kids mark mark-sense BASIC cards, mail them to a central location, get the run back 1-4 weeks later.

              Once a year, they would go on pilgrimage to that computer center, and get hold of real TTY terminals

              No I'm not making it up ...

              1. BoldMan

                Re: "We used to dream of a mac"

                @G.Y. : know a country that had the kids mark mark-sense BASIC cards, mail them to a central location, get the run back 1-4 weeks later.

                Once a year, they would go on pilgrimage to that computer center, and get hold of real TTY terminals

                -------

                That country was the UK and the year was 1974 - thats how I got my very first introduction to writing computer programs using first an assembly language-like language called "City & Guidls" and then after a while upgrading to BASIC.

                The computer was Medway College of Technology's and was a hulking great big IBM monster.

            2. Tom 13
              Devil

              Re: We had 3 keypunch machines

              A 3 key punch machine? Hah. That was the height of luxury where I came from. All we had was steel rods, some wooden beads and a couple of wooden boards. And we were GLAD for it too!

      2. Medixstiff

        Re: Technology for technology's sake

        "machines ended up just being used for internet access, but no actual learning."

        Our TAFE machines regularly had a nice little massage about being STONED on them.

        Those were the good old days, not like half the malware of today.

    2. skeptical i
      Thumb Up

      Re: Technology for technology's sake

      Hi, A.C.:

      re: "All of the kids who managed to jailbreak their iPads should be rounded up and placed in magnet schools, congratulations, you've weeded out the smart and curious kids"

      If it was in fact the actual students who did the hacking, I agree (and the teachers should ask them to explain how they did it, not to be punitive but as an example for the other kids of how to approach a problem). I'm guessing, though, based on my long-ago high school experience, that only a handful of smarties actually did the work and the rest of the kids either copied the smarties' work or paid the smarties to do their work for them. Lessons all 'round.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Technology for technology's sake

        > rest of the kids either copied the smarties' work or paid the smarties to do their work for them.

        And THOSE kids you make into managers....

      3. Tom 13

        Re: Technology for technology's sake

        Ah yes. I recall "hacking" the TRS-80 system they had in my high school my senior year. I took the class thinking I'd learn something. I didn't realize that the previous year working on their test machine with the permission of my probability and statistics instructor I'd learned 95% of what they'd be teaching. So of course I was always done with the assignments (thorough REM statements included) in half the time of anybody else in the class. Some of the teachers had been fascinated by a Centipede clone released for the TRS-80. And they'd let those of us who were finished play with it on the their console. But it was binary code from a floppy and so couldn't be loaded at the work stations, only the teacher's console. Eventually they got tired of me and a few friend tying up the teacher's console. We asked if we could download it to a station. They said it wasn't possible. At which point I picked up the manual, found the appropriate commands, and downloaded it to my student station. Which in turn was worse than me hogging the teacher's station because now everybody could see what I was doing.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Technology for technology's sake

      "All of the kids who managed to jailbreak their iPads should be rounded up and placed in magnet schools, congratulations, you've weeded out the smart and curious kids."

      Not the way it works. There is one nerd kid who works out how to hack the system. With an incentive of kudos or threats they then jail-break other kids' machines.

      The future criminalCEO is the kid who charges the other kids for the nerd's (probably free) service.

    4. Number6

      Re: Technology for technology's sake

      and the machines ended up just being used for internet access, but no actual learning.

      I learned a lot from the alt.binaries.pictures newsgroups, including the fact that some of them should definitely not be viewed while eating.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Technology for technology's sake

        "[...] including the fact that some of them should definitely not be viewed while eating."

        That sounds tasteless.

      2. Alien8n Silver badge

        Re: Technology for technology's sake

        "I learned a lot from the alt.binaries.pictures newsgroups, including the fact that some of them should definitely not be viewed while eating."

        Hamsters and duct tape springs to mind...

  8. Dazed and Confused

    So the kids have learned more than ...

    The suppliers

    Looks like a good result for the education system to me

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: So the kids have learned more than ...

      So the kids have learned more than ... The suppliers

      The suppliers (Apple, et al) made a profit!!!! Surely that counts.... The administrators probably didn't learn a thing.

      1. Dazed and Confused
        Happy

        Re: So the kids have learned more than ...

        > The suppliers (Apple, et al) made a profit!!!! Surely that counts....

        Only before the lawyers got involved.

        Rule 1 of life, once the lawyers are involved only the lawyers make a profit.

  9. Mark 85 Silver badge

    What did they expect?

    Seriously. Hand 100 kids a mechanical alarm clock and certain amount of the clocks will be lost. Another certain amount will be broken. Then there's the few that kids will take apart to see how it works and some of those will actually be put back together. I swear, those running education in this country are morons.

  10. skeptical i
    Meh

    $2000/kid?

    KPCC article claims total program cost of $1.3 billion for 650,000 laptops, $2000 per unit. I don't work for schools or districts, but this sounds higher than it should be. (I got my refurb'ed iPad for $300 or so, which is my only basis of comparison.) Don't school districts get volume discounts? Or is this the usual and going rate for school stuff? I suppose compared to five or six textbooks per kid this could be comparable, but it still sounds expensive.

    Am now waiting for Microsoft or Google to swoop in with their tablets as a free "we want to help" gift to the L.A. school district.

    1. Old Handle

      Re: $2000/kid?

      But you're only considering in the hardware. Don't forget the super awesome educational software that never worked properly.

    2. Rimpel

      Re: $2000/kid?

      + the cost of the Pearson software?

      So what if the kids hacked the device, assuming that it was still capable to run the Pearson curriculum app then it is still fit for purpose. If the kids don't do the work they get in trouble the same as if it was a textbook course.

      The problem seems to lie with Pearson: "District officials purchased Pearson's software even though it was unfinished, and teachers complained the material seemed rushed: ". So why are they suing apple?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: $2000/kid?

        "The problem seems to lie with Pearson: "District officials purchased Pearson's software even though it was unfinished, and teachers complained the material seemed rushed: ". So why are they suing apple?"

        Pearson was the best of a bad lot?

        In our school district, that was allegedly the case. Pearson's software was incomplete when the bids were due (summer before school started), but so were the others' and Pearson seemed to have the best chance of delivering something...

      2. PNGuinn
        FAIL

        Re: $2000/kid? - Pearson

        "So what if the kids hacked the device, assuming that it was still capable to run the Pearson curriculum app then it is still unfit for purpose."

        There - just a small correction needed?

  11. phil dude
    FAIL

    compulsory education == compulsory profit.

    It should be flat out illegal to buy any closed source, proprietary equipment for compulsory education (e.g. up to 16).

    Education needs to be taught on the basis of the need for knowledge, not profit.

    P.

    1. elDog Silver badge

      Re: compulsory education == compulsory profit.

      And I've even add that any "kid" past 16 should have the right to choose the platform (HW/SW) within a budget. It doesn't appear that Apple's OS was necessary unless Pearson got into a sweetheart deal with xJobs.

      As someone else has mentioned, if all that the Pearson software did was cycle through some powerpint[tm] type stuff then even Windows is capable of that.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: compulsory education == compulsory profit.

      I'm glad that you're so well off that you can afford to donate your time to the community for free. A lot of us aren't that lucky. We want to get paid for our hard work so that we can put food on the table and a roof over our heads. Do you really want to try to argue that teachers should teach for free? Why is it different for someone who writes software to help the teachers?

      And what benefit does OSS offer to students who are only going to consume the content on the platform? The textbooks are just as open as they were when they were physically printed. Shouldn't the students get high quality materials that help and encourage them to learn, rather than whichever one fits your philosophy?

      The downvote button's below for people who don't understand the limits of OSS.

      1. phil dude
        Boffin

        Re: compulsory education == compulsory profit.

        you are an AC, and you jump in with "donate time for free". What else is there with children?

        Giving children any specific brand of machine is an attempt to pattern their adult buying behaviour. The computer companies *know* this. So this is no different than Fizzy beverage machines in schools, which has been flogged at length.

        This was the reason behind the RaspPi surely? children should be taught how a computer works by building one, and then writing code to solve problems. Good students will get access to better machines. Students with rich parents will get bling ANYWAY, so no reason to subsidise them.

        The point about FOSS in schools, is that it can be shared for ALL SCHOOLS. If one school improves the software it can be shared with others. The education authorities can even PAY local folks like you (I assume) to write them software, to be used by others. Or even pay to fix the bugs. Y'know, as I am sure you want to?

        FOSS isn't a magic fix, but non-FOSS is opaque and an impediment to education. Payment is an entirely separate issue.

        No high-school student needs M$ office to learn how to type, or an iPad to browse the web, but the assumption is they will not understand anything else?

        With the world that is evolving as it is, it would seem a generation of educated hackers is something we would all support...

        P.

  12. Mike 16 Silver badge

    They're just upset

    That the kids found out how to disable the webcam/snooping bit, that was a profit center for some district IT guy.

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: They're just upset

      Mike for the win!!!

  13. Oninoshiko

    Books!

    They are cheaper and more effective.

    (at least if you buy them from a reasonable source rather then the usual suspects for textbooks)

  14. mark 58
    Headmaster

    Not every scheme is a failure

    Not all these schemes are failures. My children go to Hoover, AL school district and the IT department is very capable. The kids share and collaborate in the class rooms and undertake standardised testing using the devices. The software is clean, effective and seems to aid the teachers/kids rather than becoming burdensome. Oh, by the away - these are $200 chromebooks

    1. sabroni Silver badge

      Re: Oh, by the away - these are $200 chromebooks

      So could be replaced by anything with a decent browser? Sweet if so....

      1. sabroni Silver badge

        Re: Oh, by the away - these are $200 chromebooks

        Educational material should be platform agnostic.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    As it should be

    Every company that sells defective/insecure products should be held liable for the crapware they sell to unsuspecting consumers - starting with Microsucks and Apple.

  16. BigFire

    Traditional corruption

    Former LAUSD superintendent John Deasy had a sweetheart deal with some of his buddies to supply the school district with these now obsolete fondleslab. He uses construction capital fund (stuff that's supposed to go towards building stuff that'll last longer than 10 years) to pay for these. He didn't bother trying to get bulk discount from Apple or from any other suppliers. Deasy is now under indictment for corruption.

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: Traditional corruption

      This explains everything. Why am I not surprised?

  17. Velv Silver badge
    Coat

    "The Register has contacted Apple and and is awaiting a response. ®"

    You just add that to the bottom of every article these days, don't you. Apple related or not :)

  18. Another User

    Khan academy works great on iPad and other devices

    There is such a plethora of information available nowadays. Kids can have easy access to all of this. Sadly they are wasting their energy.

    I suggest to try sites like http://khanacademy.org to see what I am talking about. Especially have a look at the Mathematics curriculum presented there.

    Learning a foreign language on an Android or iPad tablet works great too. You get instant feedback and can perfect your pronunciation. This is something a book and paper cannot do.

  19. ecofeco Silver badge

    Typical California attitude

    California is the state that pioneered the entitlement "not my fault even though it really is" lawsuit.

    Screw them. How is it Apple's fault the school did not ensure security nor verify the software?

    Yet another reason I hate California.

    1. ST Silver badge

      Re: Typical California attitude

      > How is it Apple's fault the school did not ensure security nor verify the software?

      Because it's a USD $1.3 Billion - with a 'B' - contract, according to the article.

      For that obscene amount of taxpayer money, Apple had better made sure their iTampons can't be tampered with and/or hacked by a 14-year old.

      1. PNGuinn
        Coat

        Re: iTampons

        +1 for i Tampons.

        But where does it say thet these devices were supplied with sanitary mice?

        1. FrankAlphaXII
          Coat

          Re: iTampons

          Oh, its 75 bucks extra for a sanitary mouse, and when the next hardware revision comes with different ports (or port in the case of the new Macbook Air) you can pay another 50 for an adapter.

  20. tekHedd

    Or to summarize...

    What the hell did they *think* was going to happen?

    1. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: Or to summarize...

      Only an idiot would go to the richest computer company in the world and expect their hardware and software to do even a small amount of what it said on the tin.

      If you went to Rolls Royce for a car you'd expect a decent vehicle with some security - California got some electric bikes with 2 tumbler combination locks and are rightly upset about it. My daughters school has bought into this shit and it really is a fucking disaster.

  21. Crazy Operations Guy Silver badge

    Why not something reasonable like a Kindle?

    Why not just get some some kindles (At $79 a piece at retail, they are at least 10x cheaper than the fruity device) and just load them with PDF copies of the textbooks and maybe some other reference materials. Would be a good start in introducing technology to schools and wouldn't be a huge financial cluster fuck if it all failed, especially if you do a pilot program with a single grade level at one of the more responsible schools. Besides a Kindle would be cheaper than a single textbook if it got lost (most textbooks go for about $150-250).

    But what am I thinking, this is LA, the land of spending money you don't have to buy things that no one needs. Although I'm assuming this was because some high-level member of the school district had a pleasant lunch with an Apple sales monkey.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Why not something reasonable like a Kindle?

      Good digital textbooks are more than just a pdf (though I have no idea if these were or not.) Having a digital "textbook" gives the writer a lot of opportunity to include interactive materials. You can allow the student to interact with the examples more directly, instead of just the standard way. A simple example would be a econmics text that included graphing software to allow students to change variables in the function they're studying to see how the results change. Students could also play games where they use the knowledge that they're learning. A good digital "textbook" will encourage the student to interact with and explore the concepts being presented rather than just providing a static view of the content.

      The downside being that this type of "textbook" takes a lot more work to produce and thus costs more. They should probably be produced by small groups with individual people focusing on different parts (graphs, charts, models, 3D graphics, writing,) but AFAIK, they're still each written by one guy who is forced to learn how to create the interactive parts too.

      1. Crazy Operations Guy Silver badge

        Re: Why not something reasonable like a Kindle?

        Yeah, interactive part would be nice and I would love to see them My point was that they should take nice, small steps towards that goal and just digitizing the book would do wonders (it would at least reduce the load children have to carry to something that doesn't weight as much as they do). Being too ambitious with something like this just leads to flushing $2.3billion down the drain on a device that will be obsolete in a few years...

        1. PNGuinn
          Stop

          Re: Interactive Textbook

          TBH i'm not so sure.

          Of course there can be advantages, but this kind of thing is likely to be a contest in interactive willy waving by lazy money grubbing publishers.

          "My interactive gizmos are slicker than your gizmos - look they require 96 GB of memory, an octo core 19 GHz processor and the latest graphics hardware to run, so they must be good. <cough> we can also supply the hardware needed for the best experience... <cough>.

          In other words an excercise in reducing kids' attention span to something less than that of an imfinitessimal iGoldfish (TM) when it comes to real learning.

    2. PNGuinn
      Trollface

      Re: Why not something reasonable like a Kindle?

      An iMonkey?

      But how will you lock down the kindles to stop the little darlings...

      1. Crazy Operations Guy Silver badge

        Re: Why not something reasonable like a Kindle?

        "But how will you lock down the kindles to stop the little darlings..."

        What would you lock down?

        The internal browser sucks for pretty much anything a child would be interested in wasting time on. And if you are concerned by the books they have access to, just restrict them to a specific set of sites to download them (Or just cut out the ability to pay for anything so they'd be stuck with getting books from the school's and the public libraries).

        That is the beauty of the Kindle: it does just a single task and very little else, so there is very little that needs to be controlled or locked down. This also greatly reduces the motivation to root the things, since there is very little reward in doing so.

    3. David Roberts Silver badge

      Re: Why not something reasonable like a Kindle?

      You seem to have missed the point that it doesn't cost 150 to 200 dollars to print a text book.

      The electronic version of each textbook would retail for a similar price.

  22. Donald Becker

    Purchase kickbacks and related corruption is the real story here.

    They knew from the pilot program that the devices and system had major security flaws. A flimsy promise that all would be fixed was accepted because to do otherwise would block the extremely lucrative deal.

    The only thing that the school district can do now is ask for a few percent back from the disaster.

  23. Dieter Haussmann

    SNAFU

    Should have read the EULA - the iOS end user always has the right to opt-out of MDM.

  24. Frank N. Stein

    1. Why do students need iPads to access school curriculum? Don't they have text books?

    2. Was it cheaper to buy iPads for kids than to provide them with text books? I don't think so.

    3. Apple merely sold the iPads to the school system. They weren't contracted to provide IT Services and install any sort of "access management" software on them, right? Someone else was contracted for that. Apparently the software that they installed was ineffective, unless we want to believe that most of the kids in these classes are trained hackers (doubtful).

    4. Getting a refund from Apple because a third party's access management software was ineffective? Seems to me that the school system needs to get a refund from the company who installed that access management software. It wasn't Apple.

  25. Simone

    Why can't IT projects be delayed before spectacular failure

    It seems to look like the contract was "negotiated" in a way that failed to take account of basic commercial responsibility

    Was the educational software commissioned with no penalty clauses? It does not seem to have been validated as fit for purpose, and it was not ready on time. Whoever was doing the project management for this failed to check progress on completion and testing. The whole project should have been delayed until the next year, and the software delivery people should have paid for the delay. There would be no need to buy the iPads

    The project seems to have selected the iPad as fit for the project with no management plan for these units (not enough detail given to make a judgement). What controls were there to ensure they did not get "lost"? Again there seems to have been software involved that was not up to the job, which was hacked by clever kids or determined script kiddies - either way the project should have been cancelled or delayed

    Having failed to manage the project we are left with lawyers sorting out a mess that should never have happened

  26. x 7

    Hacking an iPad? Piffle. At my sons school, he and his mates in the IT course have hacked the school (and by implication, County) network and got unlimited access. Not bad for a batch of 14-15 year olds

  27. zen1

    face palm

    I have a cousin who's a teacher and all I hear is how difficult it is to keep the kids attention or get them to follow through on assignments etc. At a time when America's schools suck so badly on math & science scores, it's great to see kids using abstract thinking to either find the solution, online or figuring it out for themselves.

    Instead of contacting the authorities they should consider hiring a couple of the kids who shredded their ipads as security consultants. Punishing them would only foster an environment where kids would be too scared to learn.

    Finally, suing apple because the kids blew through poorly configured software, managed by the DoE IT staff is like suing Porsche because someone intentionally drove over glass & nails and flattened their tires.

  28. Howard Hanek Bronze badge
    Go

    Context

    To put the $1.3B expenditure in perspective LA County spent $650M to build one (1) High School so waste is not at all unusual. In fact they probably waste more in a year than the entire budget of a midsized American city. They're very progressive.

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