Many school systems are wrestling with ways to serve students with mobile technology such as tablets. But Guilford County Schools has learned there’s a downside to the devices. The district has suspended its tablet program after students reported 1,500 cracked or broken screens in just the first month of school.
Think back to what your middle school textbook looked like at the end of the year. It may have had lots of doodles, dog-ears and a few torn pages.
But in some areas, the modern equivalent of a mishandled textbook is a cracked tablet.
In Guilford County, instructional technology director Jake Henry says the last straw occurred last week when the charger to a student's school-issued ASUS tablet overheated and melted.
"We felt like at the point, we needed to just step back and make sure that the tablets were meeting safety compliance so that all of our students could have a positive experience with them," Henry says.
Guilford County leased 15,000 tablets as part of a $30 million federal Race To The Top grant. But since the start of the school year, more than 10 percent of its tablets – about 1,500 – had cracked or broken screens.
There's a dispute over whether the supplier provided the correct damage–resistant screens that the district ordered.
The educational software and technology company, Amplify, says other school districts only report about two percent of screens being broken.
CMS has a similar program – geared toward teachers. Within the next few months, all CMS teachers will have either an iPad or a Windows 8 tablet.
Information systems director Brandon Deleeuw says so far there have not been any major problems with broken screens.