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Technology & Innovation

L.A. Schools, Apple, and FBI in Triangle of Education Technology Hell

School districts are learning that you can’t just throw technology into the classroom without a plan. It’s like throwing money at a problem instead of thinking up solutions.

You can’t just throw money at a problem and call it fixed. 

That’s a popular aphorism in our culture because, like most popular aphorisms, it’s heavily steeped in truth. The Los Angeles Unified School District received a rough dose of that truth last year when an ambitious, but heavily flawed technology-in-the-classroom initiative blew up in its face. 

Issie Lapowsky of Wired sums it up well:

“When Los Angeles schools began handing out iPads in the fall of 2013, it looked like one of the country’s most ambitious rollouts of technology in the classroom. The city’s school district planned to spend $1.3 billion putting iPads, preloaded with the Pearson curriculum, in the hands of every student in every school.

Less than two years later, that ambitious plan now looks like a spectacularly foolish one…”

The problems with the rollout were plentiful. Detractors bashed the district for the lack of transparency with the negotiations. Now an FBI investigation is underway to see if Apple and Pearson received preferential treatment. Spoiler alert: They probably did.

But the biggest issue was that the district hadn’t planned the rollout well:

“Experts who have been following LAUSD’s troubled tech rollout say that while this does not mean education technology is inherently flawed, it does illustrate just how difficult a program like this is to pull off.”

Indian social activist and entrepreneur Dr. Madhav Chavan visited Big Think several months ago to discuss this very topic with regard to technology in the classroom. The basic gist: Technology alone can’t solve our problems. You need to execute a strong plan for incorporating that technology. You can’t just throw iPads at kids and call them educated.

Read more at Wired.

Photo credit: scyther5 / Shutterstock


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