In school iPad project, L.A. might need to tap funding for keyboards

Sep 3, 2013 by

iPadNothing knew here jump to the fun and games without thinking about additional costs.

School district’s $1-billion tablet-for-every-student project could need a further outlay for keyboards.

Los Angeles school officials are acknowledging a new looming cost in a $1-billion effort to provide iPads to every student: keyboards.

Officials so far have not budgeted that expense, but they said the wireless keyboards are recommended for students when they take new state standardized tests.

If keyboards were to be provided for all 650,000 students, the cost could be more than $38 million at current retail prices. It’s not clear if the district plans to provide keyboards for all, and officials were not prepared to estimate the cost during a meeting last week of a Board of Education committee that is tracking the iPad initiative.

Board member Monica Ratliff, who chairs the panel, said the district needed to be transparent about such expenses.

“It’s important that the public is told of any additional costs that the district can predict,” she said later.

So far the district has committed to paying Apple $30 million to provide tablets at 47 schools. Over time, funding for all iPads will reach about $500 million. Another $500 million will be spent on items such as installing wireless Internet throughout the nation’s second-largest school system.

The project is funded by voter-approved school construction bonds, which typically are paid off by taxpayers over about 25 years.

Students at two elementary schools received the iPads last week in the first rollout. All students are supposed to have tablets by December 2014.

As of now, the iPad project does not include wireless keyboards, in part because the tablet computers have touch screens.

But that setup might not satisfy the needs of older students writing term papers, for example. And if typing on them proves more difficult, that could frustrate or hinder students as they take new online tests. The device’s touch screen could even obscure portions of a test item that would be visible in its entirety on a full screen.

For some time, the district has planned to use the devices for testing based on new English and math learning standards, called the Common Core, that were adopted by California and 44 other states.

These new tests are supposed to measure deeper understanding, and they also will adapt to a student’s knowledge, said Gerardo Loera, the district’s executive director of curriculum and instruction.

via In school iPad project, L.A. might need to tap funding for keyboards –

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