Reposted from the Atlantic:
For an entire school year Hillsborough, New Jersey, educators undertook an experiment, asking: Is the iPad really the best device for interactive learning? It’s a question that has been on many minds since 2010, when Apple released the iPad and schools began experimenting with it. The devices came along at a time when many school reformers were advocating to replace textbooks with online curricula and add creative apps to lessons. Four years later, however, it’s still unclear whether the iPad is the device best suited to the classroom.
Last fall, enthusiasm for the Apple device peaked when Los Angeles Unified Schools, the second largest system in the nation, began a rollout out of iPads to every student. However, the L.A. district quickly recalled about 2,100 iPads from students. At the end of the school year, leaders announced that schools would instead be allowed to choose from among six different devices, including Chromebooks and hybrid laptop-tablets. L.A. schools weren’t the first to falter: At the beginning of the 2013-2014 school year, Guilford County Schools in North Carolina halted an Amplify tablet program, and Fort Bend, Texas, cancelled its iPad initiative.
In Miami-Dade County, Florida, a large urban district with 320,000 students, schools are promoting a “bring your own device” model. “We can’t keep up with the trends in personal devices,” said Paul Smith, supervisor of network services. Miami-Dade delayed its technology rollout after hearing of the Los Angeles iPad recall last fall; this year, it will have provided about 48,000 laptops: Ninth-grade history students will take them home, while seventh-grade civics students will each have a device in class. Some elementary students will have laptops on carts in their classrooms. Still, the system doesn’t have enough money to give a laptop to every student. So, leaders are urging parents to buy computers and will try to fill any gaps with district-issued devices.