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Letters: What iPads can't teach students

October 25, 2013

Re "Rebooting the iPad plan," Editorial, Oct. 20

I marvel at the disconnect that has the L.A. Unified School District and The Times insisting that "the district cannot afford to leave its students out of the computer era" — while conceding that the disadvantaged kids to whom the iPads were first rolled out had little difficulty circumventing the security controls. The Times acknowledges that "children and teenagers around the world have broad access to the Internet."

Pricey tech toys cannot replace basic education, although they can drain money for it. Making lessons more like video games is doing no one any educational favors. Neither my job nor yours is anything like a video game. Reading, writing, math and critical thinking, which Facebook and iPhones don't exactly encourage, are eternally relevant skills.

Parents attend meetings? Parents sign releases? Did you not read the previous week's pieces on the chaotic home lives of the disadvantaged?

Elin Guthrie

Los Angeles

L.A. Unified's iPad rollout seems to be one massive move instead of one built on stages. For example, let's start with the iPad technology itself. This device was rolled out in 2010 and since has had several major upgrades.

The district should consider leasing the iPads first and using them at the high school level. I advised this to one high school that made a three-year lease with an option at the end to either trade in for credit or buy them out at $1 apiece. L.A. Unified could make a similar deal with Apple and pass the older iPads down to the elementary levels.

Concentration on basics in math and English is more needed than technology. Lest we forget, technology is a tool, not a learning outcome.

Peter Romero

Azusa

Today's library stacks are deserted while their computer banks are crowded. Look around, if you can take your eyes off your iPhone — everywhere people are fiddling with their technology, whose popularity may result from the fact that it is easy to learn and demands little sustained thinking.

I'd like to see the evidence that technology is making scholars rather than dabblers. Indeed, I would not deny anymore than would The Times that the future of education is being transformed by technology, but this future may be pretty bleak.

John Jacobi

San Gabriel

L.A. Unified's iPad program is no different than the bullet train, timeshares, legalizing marijuana or Obamacare: The initial promise gets replaced by buyer's remorse.

Bob Munson

Newbury Park

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