My Biggest Takeaway from LAUSD's iPad Problems - Put Students In A Leadership Role

My Biggest Takeaway from LAUSD's iPad Problems - Put Students In A Leadership Role

Chris and Thabani were a critical part of our 1:1 Planning Team
There has certainly been a lot written in regards to the problems in Los Angeles Unified School District with their iPad deployment. My intention in writing this brief post is not to point fingers at another district for their problems, but while reading a recent post written by Katrina Schwartz on MindShift I couldn't help thinking about one non-negotiable in setting up 1:1 initiatives for success. The post, How Students Uncovered Lingering Hurt From LAUSD iPad Rollout, highlighted the feelings of students from all of the negative stories about their district regarding the iPad initiative.

“In the L.A. Times they did an article about us and about how the iPads were hacked,” said Mariela Bravo. “The comments hurt. I have pride in my school and it was really bad. We were the example of why they shouldn’t give [the iPads] to us. They have to trust us more, we could surprise them and they could see that we are good kids.”

When we started our 1:1 planning in Burlington more than five years ago, the first thing we did was involve our students on the planning team. The input of our students helped put so many things in perspective for the planning team and saved us time and money. We saved time because instead of speculating about what students may or may not do with new mobile devices they would be receiving, we had students tell us firsthand what to expect. They saved us money because when we were talking about which case we should by for each of the more than 1,000 iPads that we would be purchasing, one of the students told us not to by cases. He told us that the students would take them off and buy their own cases and that we would be wasting our money.

This student input has continued to play a critical role in our support of staff and students with our BHS Help Desk. As our iPad initiative has expanded to other schools in our district, our student help desk model has as well. While I could go on and on about what I have learned from students over the past four years of our 1:1 journey, I will save that for a future posts. My main point here is to let school leaders know that the first step in a successful 1:1 initiative is to make students a formal part of the plan.

cross-posted at

Patrick Larkin is the Assistant Superintendent for Learning of Burlington Public Schools in Burlington, MA and the former principal of Burlington High. He blogs about education at