L.A. Schools Now Taking Back iPads From Students Who Dare To Use Them For Purposes Of Fun

We mentioned last week that the Los Angeles Unified School District somehow thought it could hand out hobbled iPads to thousands of students without any of these kids figuring out a way to use the device as something other than a really expensive, incredibly fragile textbook. But now that it’s realizing that the temptation to use iPads the way they are intended (and marketed) can be too great for some students, the school district is taking them back.

It’s unclear exactly how many students are having their iPad privileges taken away from them, but the L.A. Times reports that kids in at least three different high schools have been told to return their $678 devices. In other schools, students are told they may not take their iPads home with them.

The entire roll-out has been botched, according to various reports. Some iPads might as well be paperweights in certain classes, where teachers can’t get access to the WiFi network. Not all the iPads were handed out with the same level of security protection, which didn’t matter anyway, as hundreds of students were easily able to work-around the roadblocks to accessing things like games and movies.

Even the take-back has been inept, with one school only managing to collect about 1/3 of the 2,100 iPads handed out this year.

And yet the LAUSD Schools Superintendent calls the program an “astonishing success… I couldn’t be more pleased to get [the iPads] in the hands of students and teachers. The feedback has been extremely positive.”

We don’t know what the school district expected to happen when it began handing out the first of the expected 650,000 iPads to students. These are devices that, yes, can be used for educational purposes, but are primarily marketed and advertised as portable home entertainment centers, allowing the user to watch videos, read books, listen to music, play games, chat with friends, and browse the Web. Giving thousands of teenagers a device and telling them it can only be used for classwork is like taking a hungry friend to a bountiful buffet and telling him he can only eat lettuce with no dressing.