LA school district wants refunds for education iPads


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Sounds like a case of what most people would call “buyer’s remorse”.

The department at my University that I work for used Pearson products for online homework for some of its classes and it was just a huge mess. Frequent service outages, massive page-load lag, etc essentially rendered the service useless for the first quarter of a semester when we tried to use it.

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This was a mess from the get-go, and it’s mostly because LA Unified was either too lazy or too stupid to look at how places that have done this sort of thing successfully managed.
Also (and this is a pet peeve), the whole “didn’t budget for keyboards” things is an overblown joke- while adults (who have spent the majority of their life using physical keyboards) might prefer such an add-on, students (especially younger ones) don’t have the same experience and thus need. It’s adults that assume students need the keyboards.
It’s a shame for a lot of reasons, not least of which will be the effect it has on other programs to bring more tech to students. It’s a massive cluster that luddites can point to and say “See! It won’t work!”


I’m confused, why wouldn’t they select a vendor off of a sample only? No one should have had a finished program by the time funds are being invested, only shown what they would deliver on.

Pearson could offer only a partial curriculum during the first year of the license, which was permitted under the agreement. Teachers and principals never widely embraced the product.

The big issue is adopting a incomplete program across the board, and allowing an incomplete program to be built into a contract with a corporation. If they stuck with the program it would likely reach a full adoption rate with quality content, but you don’t adopt massive programs with incomplete development you work out the kinks with test sites and then roll out the full program.

The Hives do!


For those who haven’t had the pleasure of interacting with them, I’ll note that Pearson is sort of like a defense contractor; but for educational materials.

They are very good at the ‘landing the contract’ phase(in this case, good enough that the FBI is looking into the matter), also quite good at ensuring that the contract doesn’t actually hold them to delivering as much as you’d expect. Even with the latter skill, though, they are…distinctly mixed… at actually delivering, and what they deliver tends to be pretty mediocre(or, if software, utter shit). At least they usually don’t deliver on time or on budget.

Seeing ‘Pearson’ in a story about an expensive educational fuckup is more or less like seeing ‘SAP’ in a story about an expensive enterprise software fuckup, or ‘Lockheed-Martin’ in a story about an expensive military aerospace fuckup.

The district was unwise at best to attempt such a project, less wise still in their choice of vendors.


This is every vendor at the commercial/institutional level. I am in a completely unrelated field, but more than half of my job is going into situations where some vendor has sold an unworkable solution using partially-functional hardware based solely on an impressive presentation and some expensive meals. My job is to somehow unfuck the situation into a state where things at least sort-of work. Of course by this point, they don’t want to spend any money, because they already blew their wad on an undeliverable sales pitch.

I wish I was less honest, because I could be a millionaire as a sales weasel.

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I heard unsavory things about a top employee on the Pearson’s side. Sorry, can’t say more to protect my sources. There is a criminal investigation on this deal, it goes beyond buyer’s remorse. Th

If they paid nearly $1,000 each for 44,000 iPads, how does that come to $1.3bn spent on iPads?

77,175 iPads @ $768ea = 59,270,400
43,261 iPads @ $1000ea = 43,261,000
so that’s $102,531,400 on iPads. Then the article says “Another $800 million was earmarked to improve Internet access at schools.” Because they’re counting building the infrastructure as part of the project (as they should in something like this…).
But I’m also at a bit of a loss as to where the other $400,000,000 is going.

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Step 3: ???
Step 4: Profit!!!

There instances where you would want a keyboard; there are other instances where the onscreen keyboard will do fairly well. It depends on the software.

I’m typing this from the library of cvongress, on a real keyboard with an ipad, simply because the way the LoC requires constant password entry makes relying on the soft keyboard rather foolhardy.

But at other times, the keyboard is something that gets in the way, adds bulk, and so on.

It depends on the software. And since Pearson designed the software, perhaps it’s to blame for making keyboards a neccessity.

On the other hand, I did have to write essays in school. Essay writing on the ipad is a right pain.


Lockheed Martin has diversified into landing non defense contracts.

I recall my Dad (who worrked for a company that was later swallowed up by a giant aeroispace conglomerate) was involved in two governmerntal contracts that didn’t involve fighter jets or space stuff. One was a project to upgrade air traffic control systems. The other had something to do with upgrading the Treasury computers network. But “administering welfare rolls” wasn’t yet something that defense contractors did. Maybe Lockheed or Boeing bought established social services contractors, instead of deciding “a contract is a contract, let’s expand”

It’s really the expectation that a student will need a keyboard vs want a keyboard. Sure- some students will want and use a physical keyboard. But the younger the students you work with the less of that you see. It’s an expensive assumption to make when you’re dealing with the numbers LA Unified is.
As a side note, I’ve never seen a piece of Pearson software on iOS that wasn’t a festering pile.

i[quote=“nothingfuture, post:15, topic:55602”]
As a side note, I’ve never seen a piece of Pearson software on iOS that wasn’t a festering pile.

The iPad lives and dies on its software. If Safari didn’t work exceptionally well, the ipad would not have cachet

They should have went with Chromebooks.

hows the chromebook do as an ereader?

I told you so. When this was first announced. It was obvious how this was going to turn out.

LAUSD is the worst run school district in the country (or certainly in the running). They’ve got billions to throw around and just don’t give a f#$@. Graduation rates down catastrophically? Just drop the standards through the floor! As long as the union teachers and administrators get paid they just don’t care. Obviously everyone involved here saw a sweet deal where they could spend a billion dollars of taxpayer money and parasitically leech off it from all directions. The only thing they didn’t foresee was the extent of the backlash.

The real money to be made for all the parasites involved is in the extensive support contracts and subscriptions (which is part of what LAUSD is trying to weasel out of now). Then all the infrastructure to support the iPads like ludicrously expensive mega-charging stations, new wifi, oh now we have to upgrade our routers and network backbone… It’s a cashapalooza.

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