Los Angeles Unified School District
e-Enabled Learning Tools Project
The Los Angeles Unified School District’s efforts to provide every student, every teacher and every administrator with a iPad turned into a disaster. Launched in 2013, the initial plan called for more than 100,000 iPads to be purchased. Some were to be loaded with apps containing curriculum that would be used for instructional purposes while others were to be used for standardized testing.
From the initial roll out the problems were clear. Students were able to bypass the built in security to access non-authorized content while the authorized content that was provided suffered its own quality problems. Reports indicate that the authorized content was not written in accordance with applicable teaching standards and those problems were compounded by the fact that the system suffered reliability problems that frequently rendered the content inaccessible anyway.
The project’s Director publicly criticized the system saying “Making the materials ‘usable’ has required extraordinary, unsustainable, and un-scalable resources.” Publishing an open correspondence the Director reports that only 2 of 69 schools in the initial pilot were still attempting to use the tool. The remaining schools had given up. Noting that less than 5% of the target student body had reliable access to the content, the letter also noted that even when used, the content failed to meet all appropriate requirements.
Contributing factors as reported in the press: failure to gain stakeholder support; missing requirements; quality related issues; and failure to fully recognize the transformational shift in learning that e-enabled learning represents.
What They Should Have Done
- appoint a good, experienced project manager
- buy a copy of 'Agile Project Management in easy steps'
- take an agile approach, with full user involvement
- user experience design
- try it out on a small pilot (1 school not 69)