L.A. iPad Incident: A Reality Check for Mobile Initiatives?

October 1, 2013


In the Classroom

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? 

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All Comments (6)

Anonymous November 25, 2013 at 3:18 pm

there should be a system where the i-pads have a code that only works for a few hours that everyone has to ask their teachers for…it will allow them onto recreational sites (being tracked and watched the whole time), and will expire after a set number of hours. the code will change and they will have to ask to get the new one, which will only work the next day. The teachers will not give out these codes unless a they do all their school work and homework, and the codes only work after a certain time of day. may cost a few thousand dollars, but this system cant be hacked or manipulated-an ultimate solution.


L1am335 February 18, 2014 at 1:01 pm

It can be hacked, someone can get into the machines giving the codes. If someone breaks the machines, not shutting them off but like breaking the OS/disk, then the restrictions would go down. Maybe.


Ron January 15, 2014 at 5:11 pm

Actually the “Hack” is just making one change in the settings (deleting a profile). The real solution is either get Android devices which can be locked to time based and application based policies or let the student do what they want and realize your are giving them an entertainment device.



The IXL Blog January 16, 2014 at 8:58 am

Hi, Ron. Thanks for your comment. Our developers are currently hard at work on the IXL Android app, and we hope to release it in the spring. In the meantime, you can always access IXL with a web browser on your Android device.


L1am335 February 18, 2014 at 12:58 pm

They should get a A-Plus on computer science… Just saying…


David August 3, 2015 at 12:33 pm

The iPad was a bad choice to begin with. All Educational material from the school should be HTML5 compatible and the student can use their own computing device. The school system should tell the book publishers to supply all Educational Content in HTML5.


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