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Los Angeles Unified School District – Hack the iPads!

October 23, 2013 at 2:10 pm PST

It didn’t take long, but soon after the Los Angeles Unified School District began their rollout of some 650,000 iPads to their students, they ran into some technical issues. Students in at least one of LAUSD’s high schools quickly discovered a way to bypass the security on the devices. Still in Phase 1 of the program, only 15,000 of the devices have been given to students, but already the District has suspended home use of the iPads due to the security issues. According to reports, LAUSD had been using software that “lets school district officials know where the iPads are, and what the students are doing with them at all times. This software also lets the district block certain sites, such as social media favorites like Facebook.” There are now questions circulating around whether the LAUSD staff was well prepared for these devices and their implementation, and what is going to be done moving forward to continue the rollout and secure the iPads.

student using mobile device

In my previous article I wrote about how educational staff need to be prepared to properly utilize iPads in their classroom. IT staff responsible for managing these iPads should also receive the proper training and preparation. What’s interesting to note here is that, at least in my experience, Apple’s stance on iPads in education is generally fairly hands-off. They recommend managing or locking down the iPads as little as possible. The idea here is that these are best served as single user devices and the best experience for the student is full ownership and manageability of the iPad out of the box. iPads aren’t meant to be used like a rolling cart of laptops going from room to room. They don’t support user profiles and managing or locking down the iPads introduces more complexity than is needed.

You want to protect the investment in these devices from theft, and prevent students from accessing inappropriate content, but if you are planning on allowing the students to take these devices home, you can only go so far. As evidenced from the LAUSD issue, students quickly discovered the iPads were so locked down they couldn’t use them at home, so they found a way to delete the configuration profiles which essentially removed any of the locks or restrictions on the iPad. Some students even went so far as to offer ‘unlocking’ service for $2. Quite the entrepreneurial spirit!

Now, it’s a daunting task for any IT department of any size to introduce over half a million new devices under your umbrella of responsibility. Add to this, that depending on the MDM solution chosen, each of these iPads have to be unboxed and configured before being handed to a student. Now, when something goes wrong they have to be collected, and reconfigured. It stands to reason that Phase 1 will remain a trial phase until some of these issues are worked out. Read More »

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Back to School With Tech

It’s back-to-school time once again. Whether it is smartphones, tablets or laptops –devices and the classroom are more intertwined than ever before. Thanks to the growing connections in the Internet of Everything (IoE), it is now easier than ever to integrate the device into the classroom. With college costs on the rise, there is no question why many students, professors, and colleges, are turning to technology to increase access to resources.

The days of ‘my roommate ate my homework’ are coming to an end. Read More »

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Los Angeles Unified School District – iPads for Everyone!

September 18, 2013 at 3:11 pm PST

Earlier this year, Los Angeles Unified School District announced a $30 Million deal with Apple to distribute iPads to every single one of their estimated 650,000 students. This marks a milestone in public education as the first ever school district to deploy this kind of device to each and every student. Over the past several years there have been many pilots and test classes involving the oft-named ‘one to one’ approach to technology in the classroom; one device for each learner, however there has not been a rollout of this scale, anywhere.school childern using ipad

How does this shape the future of education for LAUSD students, and more importantly, how does this reflect on the evolution of the classroom for the 21st century student? Read More »

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The Internet of Everything Connected Classroom Starts with Startups

Connected-ClassroomsWhen I think of a traditional elementary or secondary classroom, I think of colorful bulletin boards, desks, pencils and neat piles of books and paper. As students all over the country return back to school, it’s interesting to think about how the classrooms we enjoyed as students (back in the day!) have evolved to include electronic white boards, tablets and other high-tech collaboration tools.

While this technology has fundamentally changed the landscape of the modern classroom, the Internet of Everything is driving education-focused start-ups to enable more connections in and outside the classroom than ever before. Here’s a look at a few start-ups that are revolutionizing how students, teachers and parents connect and learn.

Read More »

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Hershey Teams Up with Cisco to Deliver Telepresence to Students in Ghana

April 29, 2013 at 8:00 am PST

I’ve always liked The Hershey Company. Before now it was mostly for the delicious morsels they stack candy shelves with, but now I’m even more impressed with the company because of what it’s doing for the underprivileged youth in both the U.S. and Ghana.

In the summer of 2012, Cisco’s own Ed Schermerhorn worked with Hershey to help deliver telepresence to 80 elementary students in the U.S. and Ghana. The goal of the project? To provide an enriched educational experience by creating a collaborative learning environment where students were provided with curriculum developed by teachers in both Hershey, Pennsylvania and Ghana.

It’s such an interesting story and quite an adventure Ed went on. To hear more about his journey, read about it first hand in Ed’s latest post: A Delicious Experience: Connecting Kids in Rural Ghana with Kids at Hershey’s via Telepresence

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