iPads for students: LA school officials take back tablets following security breach

It was reported back in June that the LA Unified Schools District had agreed a $30 million deal with Apple to supply every student in the nation’s second largest school district with an iPad.

As you might expect with tablets handed out to students by an education board, each one comes pre-loaded with a range of apps designed to help them in their studies. As you might also expect, students didn’t take long to hack the security software designed to prevent access to sites like Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.

In fact, so many students have performed the hack that officials at two high schools have decided to take back the tablets, throwing doubt on plans to get an iPad into the hand of every student across 47 campuses within a year.

According to the LA Times, students managed to bypass the security measures with “a couple of clicks”, after which they had full access to the Web and apps. In fact, several students told the Times that all they had to do was delete their personal profile information.

In a memo obtained by the Times, LA Unified School District police chief Steven Zipperman suggested the district suspend distribution of the tablets among its schools.

“I’m guessing this is just a sample of what will likely occur on other campuses once this hits Twitter, YouTube or other social media sites explaining to our students how to breach or compromise the security of these devices,” Zipperman said in the memo. “I want to prevent a ‘runaway train’ scenario when we may have the ability to put a hold on the rollout.”

It appears the security measures are designed to prevent access to the sites at all times, including at home. Once school officials learned students were accessing blocked sites, they asked for them to hand in their tablets when leaving the campus, allowing them to collect them the next day for class. However, officials at two schools are now calling in all tablets permanently until further notice.

“We don’t know when or if we will able to use the iPads again for classroom instruction — this week, this semester or this year,” said Lisa Alva, a coordinator for academic services at one of the schools.

The plan to equip thousands of students with iPads is part of a $1-billion technology initiative for the district. However, the tablet rollout appears to have been put on hold until more effective security software can be installed, with Apple reportedly working to develop a fix.  

[Image: ebayink]

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