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Los Angeles students get iPads for classroom, play video games instead

Chuck Morris 10-7-13 Yahoo Games

You have to give school officials in Los Angeles credit for a good idea: put iPads in the hands of over 650,000 students to give them the most advanced learning tools available in an effort to boost their interest in academics.

But the $1 billion plan is taking some heat after students in the nation's second-largest school district cracked the tablets’ security settings to forgo reading, writing and ‘rithmetic and instead post on Facebook and play games during class time.

"They kind of should have known this would happen," said Maria Aguilera, a student at one of the schools where games briefly replaced academia. "We're high school students after all. I mean, come on."

The top game choices? Temple Run, Subway Surfing and an unnamed car racing game.

The program's goal is to put an iPad in the hands of every student and teacher in the district’s 1,000 schools by next year. Officials say they were hoping to assist students in a district where 80 percent of the students come from low-income families.

While some might shrug their shoulders and give the kids credit for pulling a fast one on officials, others are taking the Los Angeles Unified School District to task for trying to do too much, too fast.

"It doesn't seem like there was much planning that went into this strategy," said Renee Hobbs, director of the Harrington School of Communication and Media at the University of Rhode Island. "That's where the debacle began."

School officials, as you might expect, quickly confiscated the iPads and went to work improving the security settings.

Apple has worked with several school districts around the country to incorporate the iPad into the classroom, with some schools starting students on them as early as kindergarten. There is an extensive app library dedicated to learning on a variety of topics.

Apple founder Steve Jobs was a big advocate of using the iPad in schools before his death two years ago. One of his goals was to circumvent the state certification process for textbook sales by having Apple release textbooks for free on the tablet computer.

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