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Unacceptable: L.A.s iPad Troubles

Ok. Enough is Enough.

I want to qualify what I am about to say, because I frankly think now something needs to be said.

Firstly I do not normally, publically at least, comment on individual 1 to 1 rollouts. Anywhere. Our role at the Foundation has been to provide support, thought leadership and advocacy in whatever form that takes. No matter how often we have seen hiccups, or mistakes or oversights; to date I have simply tried to be Mr Half-full, and we have celebrated the hard work and energy that is always invested in implementing a 1 to 1 program.

Secondly, I obviously only have news reports to go on, and so I am just hoping that what I have read in recent days regarding the first stage roll-out of iPads in LA School District has been incorrectly reported. But for those of you who haven't caught up with the reports, here is an excerpt from the LA Times report, and here is a summary from a recent issue of EdSurge:

"LA UNIFIED'S SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS: Last week, the Los Angeles Times regaled us with reports on LA Unified's $1 billion iPad troubles. First, students circumvented security measures and visited "unauthorized" websites such as YouTube and Facebook. (Using the word "hacking" would be giving kids too much credit; Ars Technica explains the simple steps they took.) Then 71 iPads went missing, and "senior district officials acknowledged that they haven't decided on consequences if the $700 iPads are lost or broken." So school officials took the devices back from students--but only two-thirds have been returned. "You can't do nothing with them...you just carry them around," one student said."

As I said at the top of this article, enough is enough. This is simply unacceptable. These sorts of issues, and the reporting of them give computers in schools a bad name, a very bad name…and most notably undoes much of the good work that has gone before them.
Did you hear that?…gone BEFORE!!..yes, surprise, surprise…. this has been done before, thousands of times..in more than 30 countries around the world; across tens of thousands of schools across the globe; providing and supporting more than 20 million kids across those countries with the learning medium of their time..access to their own fully functional, portable, personal computer..a laptop.

To all of you, who, as loyal supporters of the Anytime Anywhere Learning Foundation, are, I’m sure as frustrated as I am. We just don’t need this sort of stumble from a high…possibly, the highest…profile 1 to 1 deployment at least in the US..since Maine..and yes, look how well they managed their initiative..and as pioneers!
I’m sorry, but this sort of ‘policy clumsiness’ just has to stop. This is our young people’s future you're playing with, and so in future, wherever the next large deployment is scheduled ..(and there are at least a dozen that we know of for more than a million students each within the next 12 months)…could you please start showing some 21st Century Policy Leadership, and follow some very simple, easy to follow, tips:

1. Reach out beyond simple Literature searches and learn from what others have done.

2. Look for Frameworks or Deployment schedules that have been developed from the experience and knowledge of schools and schools systems who have successfully deployed 1 to 1 programs previously. Without playing favourites, AALF’s 21 Steps to 21st Century Learning, is a 2 day workshop developed from the experiences of hundreds of schools effectively rolling out 1 to 1. It has in turn been directly and indirectly used as the bible for 1 to 1 deployments to millions of students across the globe for more than 12 years. There are obviously others.

3. 1 to 1 initiatives are NOT, I repeat NOT a technology program; never was, never has been…despite how they are often reported. This is about providing exceptional, and unprecedented opportunities for deeper, more complex, more creative learning for our young people through the provision of their own fully functional, portable, personal computer. Providing the laptop is just a very simple first step on a long, hard and incredibly exciting journey.

4. Finally it is therefore on THIS basis, and this basis alone, that you must make all your decisions….. Not what is the cheapest; not what is the coolest new piece of shiny technology…but rather what will provide your young people with the most powerful choices, the most profound opportunities, to engage in learning that is relevant, worthwhile, and meaningful within the context of the technology-rich world they are growing up in.

Good luck...I sincerely hope the lessons are learned and my suggestions are helpful.

Bruce Dixon
October 3rd, 2013 @ 11:07AM