It's hard to believe that anyone would think that a $1.3 billion roll out of iPads to students would be a good idea, or deliver the kind of return-of-investment to warrant it, but it's apparent that a Los Angeles school district did.
Earlier this year, we reported on how the pilot program failed spectacularly. There weren't enough iPads to go around, and that tends to be a major issue when it's expected that everyone will have one. We'd imagine that if lesser-expensive tablets were chosen, not top-tier models, that issue might not have been encountered.
In addition to the iPads themselves, part of this funding went towards educational software that was to be used, which supposedly turned out to have problems of its own. Since these iPads weren't used for their intended purpose, that also became a major waste of funding. Ultimately, $500 million went to iPads, $800 million went to improving Internet infrastructure, and the rest went to the educational software.
Fast-forward to today, and a settlement has been reached which will see Apple pay $4.2 million for the Pearson curriculum. Similarly, Lenovo is also going to be shelling out $2.2 million, as some of its laptops were supposed to make use of Pearson's software as well.
As outsiders, it's hard to properly take all of this in. Was this entirely the fault of the school district, its teachers who couldn't figure the software out, Pearson, or Apple? Or does the blame spread through them all? Either way, this should prove a valuable lesson to other school districts that might be considering a similar roll out. It can be done, but a lot of research and smarter decision-making is imperative.