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iPads are great for porn and video games

Not so much for learning.

“On one student’s iPad were ten of the most graphic, hardcore,  triple-X porn images I have ever seen.” - Image by estudi M6/istock/thinkstock
“On one student’s iPad were ten of the most graphic, hardcore, triple-X porn images I have ever seen.”

Some Sweetwater librarians, teachers, and parents continue to question whether the district’s iPad initiative is a boon or a costly boondoggle.

Similar to Los Angeles Unified School District, which recently canceled a contract to buy 700,000 iPads, the Sweetwater Union High School District’s iPad initiative has experienced several rough years. The Los Angeles iPad program became so fraught with problems it was suspended.

A recent incident involving the Sweetwater Education Foundation, a nonprofit group that provides grants for Sweetwater students, hints at potential problems. The foundation site was hacked near the beginning of August, shortly after students returned from summer break. For two weeks, anyone who searched on the internet for the foundation, perhaps looking for a scholarship, would pull pages of hardcore porn under the heading “Eighteen & Abused.”

The role of Sweetwater librarians has changed considerably. Where once they opened the doors of literacy and research for students, their days of late are increasingly consumed with iPad problems. In addition to other duties, they are now responsible for the distribution of iPads; for the accounting of lost, cracked, or broken devices; for checking out the tablets to students who are not allowed to take them home; and for securing parent authorization forms.

And the iPads bring other problems. Librarian Colleen Casey said porn on a student’s iPad was seared into her brain because of an event that took place last April.

“My library assistant brought a student’s iPad to me,” Casey said. “On his iPad were ten of the most graphic, hardcore, triple-X porn images I have ever seen. When I looked this student up, he already owed the district for a cracked iPad. He got suspended for a day or two for the incident and then he walked into the library and said, ‘Where’s my iPad?’”

Casey said the consequences for downloading inappropriate material, cracking, breaking or losing iPads, varies from school to school. Often, there are no consequences.

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Another librarian pointed out, “This year is totally different from the last two years. The first year the district was making up iPad implementation on the fly. Last year things got better. I saw teachers starting to incorporate iPads, and students began to use them when they were doing their homework; I’d see students looking up a word in the dictionary, or they’d be doing their homework and upload something to Canvas,” an instructional software program that connects students to teachers.

But everything changed this school year. Librarians say the first two months of this new school year were the worst in their careers because of the iPads.

Last year, the tablets were loaded from the district server and it was more difficult for students to get around firewalls and misuse the iPads. Now, when students are issued an iPad, they get a blank slate and an Apple ID, which they use to download the apps.

Aside from the difficulty of getting all the students’ iPads configured — one librarian said, “Now the Apple Store is wide open to them all the time. In fact, one teacher checked a student’s history and found that this student was using his uncle’s account to load violent video games and porn.”

Another librarian reported that she had been contacted by a mother whose son had asked for her credit-card number, ostensibly for a school-related purchase; instead, he used the account to download music.”

“Students are technically savvy,” said librarian Mary Doyle. “Some of them use a proxy number from the Starbucks web page to bypass the school’s code.”

Parents are also worried about the access students have to the Apple Store. Earlier this school year, Sweetwater parent Wanda Parisi complained to the school board that when her family had an Apple ID she could oversee her children’s activities; with a school-issued ID she no longer has that option.

“The real problem is the district does not have a comprehensive technology plan, said librarian Doyle. “Their plan is — hand the students an iPad.”

Librarians and teachers are also critical of the fact that the iPads, which were supposed to replace students’ heavy backpacks, have a limited set of classroom texts loaded.

“The math book is available, but we’re going into integrated math, so it’s sort of a supplement,” Doyle said. “High school has only math, algebra, and geometry texts loaded. In middle school, it’s only the science and math and another supplementary English Language Development text that is not required.”

Costs for the initiative continue to add up.

Aside from purchasing the iPads, covers for the devices, licensing for books, repairs for iPads that are no longer under warranty, a recovery program for lost iPads, staff training, and a new layer of employees to technically assist the implementation, some librarians also believe the program is bankrupting the students in terms of reading skills and habits.

“We’re supposed to be a data-driven district,” Casey said. “There is plenty of data that shows being a strong reader improves a student’s education. There is no data that shows an iPad improves student learning.”

On the subject of reading, Casey said: “We have a half hour advisory in the morning where students are supposed to read. So, the kids say, ‘I have my book on my iPad.’ But it became very apparent this year, because of the Apple ID and the games available, that students were sitting there doing other things and as soon as a teacher came by, they’d swipe it and a book would appear on the screen. So, there are some teachers who are saying the students have to read real books and put the iPads away. I am very sad, because kids used to come in and check out books and talk to me about them.”

Librarians wonder why the district chose iPads as opposed to other tablets. Casey said that when the district was going through the selection process there was one tablet considered that could only be used for educational purposes. She said the demonstrator threw the tablet on the ground and it didn’t even break.

At the March 2014 board meeting, Sweetwater’s director of educational technology, David Damico, explained that iPads were chosen because Apple was the first company to come out with tablets. He said that the district was already engaged in a pilot program with iPads and implementing two different tablets posed significant challenges. He said that the district would revisit the tablet choice in the future.

The overall cost of the iPad initiative will increase incrementally. As one teacher explains it: “The purchase component of roughly $3.5–$4.5 million will continue in perpetuity since the [iPad] technology and hardware have a life expectancy (optimally — when well taken care of) of about three years. This means not only would the district have to supply all incoming 7th-graders, but a projected additional percentage replacement for 10–12-graders each year. I don’t see where the money’s coming from. They need to lay out a business plan/model just as if they were approaching a lender with a funding request.”

One of the problems librarians complained about was the cracked iPads. They pointed out that some are beyond their warranty and that the district had to contract additional repair services. They also stressed that repair turnaround time was too long.

Jim Young is a veteran Sweetwater teacher who retired in early October. He said he believes there’s a place for iPads or other tablets in education and explained the various ways he had incorporated the iPad into his Accelerated World Cultures Class. But, he went on to enumerate problems. For instance, a teacher couldn’t just make a lesson plan for a class that incorporates the iPad because not every student has an iPad.

“This year,” Young explained, “it took seven weeks to get the iPads distributed to all the students. In addition, many parents opt their children out of the program because several weeks into the semester they find out their kids’ grades are suffering because they’ve been using the iPads to play games rather than study. Then, at any given time, there are 50 or more iPads in the school that are broken. So, those students will not have an iPad in class. That means a teacher needs to make a lesson plan that incorporates pencil and paper work as well as iPad work.”

Young continued, “Then there will be the students whose iPads aren’t charged. They were probably good kids and charged them the night before but by the time they get to class, they’ve been playing so many video games, which use a lot of power, that they’ve lost their charge.”

Young said the Apple Store being open to the students for a prolonged time this year has created additional problems. He said, “You can’t give an 11- or 12-year-old a great video platform and tell them, ‘Don’t play games.’ Students have great technical abilities. We can wipe their iPads clean, but later we find they have stored their games on the Cloud or in a hard-drive folder.”

Young also echoed the librarians’ complaint: very few texts are available on the iPad. The world cultures text he used was not available on the iPad.

“Many times our Wi-Fi network is down,” said Young. “So you have to be prepared for that eventuality when you’re teaching. Then there is the problem of the Wi-Fi going down if all the students in the district are taking a test at the same time, which frequently happens.”

Young chuckled and said, “Just last week an Apple representative came to our school to give us a demonstration and the Wi-Fi system went down.”

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“On one student’s iPad were ten of the most graphic, hardcore,  triple-X porn images I have ever seen.” - Image by estudi M6/istock/thinkstock
“On one student’s iPad were ten of the most graphic, hardcore, triple-X porn images I have ever seen.”

Some Sweetwater librarians, teachers, and parents continue to question whether the district’s iPad initiative is a boon or a costly boondoggle.

Similar to Los Angeles Unified School District, which recently canceled a contract to buy 700,000 iPads, the Sweetwater Union High School District’s iPad initiative has experienced several rough years. The Los Angeles iPad program became so fraught with problems it was suspended.

A recent incident involving the Sweetwater Education Foundation, a nonprofit group that provides grants for Sweetwater students, hints at potential problems. The foundation site was hacked near the beginning of August, shortly after students returned from summer break. For two weeks, anyone who searched on the internet for the foundation, perhaps looking for a scholarship, would pull pages of hardcore porn under the heading “Eighteen & Abused.”

The role of Sweetwater librarians has changed considerably. Where once they opened the doors of literacy and research for students, their days of late are increasingly consumed with iPad problems. In addition to other duties, they are now responsible for the distribution of iPads; for the accounting of lost, cracked, or broken devices; for checking out the tablets to students who are not allowed to take them home; and for securing parent authorization forms.

And the iPads bring other problems. Librarian Colleen Casey said porn on a student’s iPad was seared into her brain because of an event that took place last April.

“My library assistant brought a student’s iPad to me,” Casey said. “On his iPad were ten of the most graphic, hardcore, triple-X porn images I have ever seen. When I looked this student up, he already owed the district for a cracked iPad. He got suspended for a day or two for the incident and then he walked into the library and said, ‘Where’s my iPad?’”

Casey said the consequences for downloading inappropriate material, cracking, breaking or losing iPads, varies from school to school. Often, there are no consequences.

Sponsored
Sponsored

Another librarian pointed out, “This year is totally different from the last two years. The first year the district was making up iPad implementation on the fly. Last year things got better. I saw teachers starting to incorporate iPads, and students began to use them when they were doing their homework; I’d see students looking up a word in the dictionary, or they’d be doing their homework and upload something to Canvas,” an instructional software program that connects students to teachers.

But everything changed this school year. Librarians say the first two months of this new school year were the worst in their careers because of the iPads.

Last year, the tablets were loaded from the district server and it was more difficult for students to get around firewalls and misuse the iPads. Now, when students are issued an iPad, they get a blank slate and an Apple ID, which they use to download the apps.

Aside from the difficulty of getting all the students’ iPads configured — one librarian said, “Now the Apple Store is wide open to them all the time. In fact, one teacher checked a student’s history and found that this student was using his uncle’s account to load violent video games and porn.”

Another librarian reported that she had been contacted by a mother whose son had asked for her credit-card number, ostensibly for a school-related purchase; instead, he used the account to download music.”

“Students are technically savvy,” said librarian Mary Doyle. “Some of them use a proxy number from the Starbucks web page to bypass the school’s code.”

Parents are also worried about the access students have to the Apple Store. Earlier this school year, Sweetwater parent Wanda Parisi complained to the school board that when her family had an Apple ID she could oversee her children’s activities; with a school-issued ID she no longer has that option.

“The real problem is the district does not have a comprehensive technology plan, said librarian Doyle. “Their plan is — hand the students an iPad.”

Librarians and teachers are also critical of the fact that the iPads, which were supposed to replace students’ heavy backpacks, have a limited set of classroom texts loaded.

“The math book is available, but we’re going into integrated math, so it’s sort of a supplement,” Doyle said. “High school has only math, algebra, and geometry texts loaded. In middle school, it’s only the science and math and another supplementary English Language Development text that is not required.”

Costs for the initiative continue to add up.

Aside from purchasing the iPads, covers for the devices, licensing for books, repairs for iPads that are no longer under warranty, a recovery program for lost iPads, staff training, and a new layer of employees to technically assist the implementation, some librarians also believe the program is bankrupting the students in terms of reading skills and habits.

“We’re supposed to be a data-driven district,” Casey said. “There is plenty of data that shows being a strong reader improves a student’s education. There is no data that shows an iPad improves student learning.”

On the subject of reading, Casey said: “We have a half hour advisory in the morning where students are supposed to read. So, the kids say, ‘I have my book on my iPad.’ But it became very apparent this year, because of the Apple ID and the games available, that students were sitting there doing other things and as soon as a teacher came by, they’d swipe it and a book would appear on the screen. So, there are some teachers who are saying the students have to read real books and put the iPads away. I am very sad, because kids used to come in and check out books and talk to me about them.”

Librarians wonder why the district chose iPads as opposed to other tablets. Casey said that when the district was going through the selection process there was one tablet considered that could only be used for educational purposes. She said the demonstrator threw the tablet on the ground and it didn’t even break.

At the March 2014 board meeting, Sweetwater’s director of educational technology, David Damico, explained that iPads were chosen because Apple was the first company to come out with tablets. He said that the district was already engaged in a pilot program with iPads and implementing two different tablets posed significant challenges. He said that the district would revisit the tablet choice in the future.

The overall cost of the iPad initiative will increase incrementally. As one teacher explains it: “The purchase component of roughly $3.5–$4.5 million will continue in perpetuity since the [iPad] technology and hardware have a life expectancy (optimally — when well taken care of) of about three years. This means not only would the district have to supply all incoming 7th-graders, but a projected additional percentage replacement for 10–12-graders each year. I don’t see where the money’s coming from. They need to lay out a business plan/model just as if they were approaching a lender with a funding request.”

One of the problems librarians complained about was the cracked iPads. They pointed out that some are beyond their warranty and that the district had to contract additional repair services. They also stressed that repair turnaround time was too long.

Jim Young is a veteran Sweetwater teacher who retired in early October. He said he believes there’s a place for iPads or other tablets in education and explained the various ways he had incorporated the iPad into his Accelerated World Cultures Class. But, he went on to enumerate problems. For instance, a teacher couldn’t just make a lesson plan for a class that incorporates the iPad because not every student has an iPad.

“This year,” Young explained, “it took seven weeks to get the iPads distributed to all the students. In addition, many parents opt their children out of the program because several weeks into the semester they find out their kids’ grades are suffering because they’ve been using the iPads to play games rather than study. Then, at any given time, there are 50 or more iPads in the school that are broken. So, those students will not have an iPad in class. That means a teacher needs to make a lesson plan that incorporates pencil and paper work as well as iPad work.”

Young continued, “Then there will be the students whose iPads aren’t charged. They were probably good kids and charged them the night before but by the time they get to class, they’ve been playing so many video games, which use a lot of power, that they’ve lost their charge.”

Young said the Apple Store being open to the students for a prolonged time this year has created additional problems. He said, “You can’t give an 11- or 12-year-old a great video platform and tell them, ‘Don’t play games.’ Students have great technical abilities. We can wipe their iPads clean, but later we find they have stored their games on the Cloud or in a hard-drive folder.”

Young also echoed the librarians’ complaint: very few texts are available on the iPad. The world cultures text he used was not available on the iPad.

“Many times our Wi-Fi network is down,” said Young. “So you have to be prepared for that eventuality when you’re teaching. Then there is the problem of the Wi-Fi going down if all the students in the district are taking a test at the same time, which frequently happens.”

Young chuckled and said, “Just last week an Apple representative came to our school to give us a demonstration and the Wi-Fi system went down.”

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