Earlier this year, the Los Angeles Unified School District generated major buzz when they announced a $30-million initiative to put iPads in the hands of each of its 650,000 K-12 students.
Last week, they made headlines again when nearly 300 high school students managed to bypass the security restrictions that tracked online activities and prevented students from accessing certain sites on the iPads, including Facebook, Twitter, and Pandora. It took the students exactly one week to find a workaround in the iPad settings, and district officials have since stopped all home use of the iPads while they address the issue.
According to a recent article on the KQED MindShift blog, when officials asked students why they hacked the iPads, they replied, “You guys are just locking us out of too much stuff.” This has educators considering changes to the current iPad policy that blocks recreational and social media sites.
But will that solve the issue? In the same article, Renee Hobbs, who runs the Media Education Lab at the University of Rhode Island, explains she was wary of the iPad program from the beginning. She says children are so accustomed to using iPads as entertainment devices, it’s very difficult for schools touting their educational merits to compete.
Journalist Shane Snow shares an entirely different view in his LinkedIn article about the iPad incident. He says that rather than halting the iPad program, officials should start a coding curriculum. He says, “The kids who hacked their iPads just completed an exercise in problem solving…Giving them tools for intense computation and problem solving—like an iPad—and then setting them loose on real-world challenges will be a much more interesting (and effective) learning tool than what they’re probably planning on doing with these devices.”
What do you think, is what happened in L.A. further proof that entertainment and education just don’t mix, or is it an opportunity to break new ground in education, perhaps beyond the scope that educators initially envisioned?