Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) efforts to grow its presence in America’s schools and classrooms was just dealt a major blow. After last year awarding Apple a large contract to provide iPads to students at the districts’ schools, the Los Angeles school district is looking at alternatives to the premium tablets by evaluating a variety of laptops, including offerings by Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) and Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) (NASDAQ:GOOGL).
The Los Angeles Times reports that the nation’s second largest school district has allowed a group of 27 high schools to choose among six different laptops and hybrid computers to provide to their students. Schools have already chosen which laptops they’d like to use, and this fall, students, teachers, and administrators will test the different models to determine which ones will figure into the district’s expanding effort to provide computers for all students in the district.
The news marks a big shift away from the school district’s decision last year to give every student an iPad. At the time — and without much input from schools — the district authorized a $30 million contract with Apple, which was expected to expand to at least $500 million, and committed another $500 million to upgrading schools’ internet connectivity. After a troubled rollout, this year’s plans contrast markedly with last year’s, and not one of the six computers that schools will choose among is an Apple product. The challenging rollout of iPads at 47 schools saw students circumventing firewalls to visit social media sites, some schools recalling the iPads, distribution falling behind schedule, the district licensing incomplete curricula, and district-wide distribution eventually being suspended.
School board member Steve Zimmer acknowledged the mistakes made after the district forewent extensive discussion to roll out a single device. “We had the right urgency, but urgency can be the enemy of necessary scrutiny. Now our challenge is to main the urgency while getting the details right.” District-wide distribution of the iPads is on hold, though some schools are still scheduled to receive them in the fall. New curricula to accompany the laptops will also be tested, and offerings by Pearson (NYSE:PSO), McGraw Hill (NYSE:MHFI)/Study Sync, and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (NASDAQ:HMHC) will be evaluated.