On the day Apple rolled out its new redesigned iBook this year, Henrico County, Virginia was touted as one of the new system’s earliest adopters. The Virginia school district announced plans to purchase 23,000 iBooks, with the goal of equipping every high school student with a laptop system. Now it appears that the schools are having some trouble supporting all that new hardware, according to a new article in the
penned by Chris Dovi entitled
Some doubt fruitful Henrico program.
Dovi wrote that the iBook rollout has overburdened the schools’ computer networks, the machines themselves have shown a few problems, and promised software has been so far unavailable. Additionally, kids have managed to stay one step ahead of network administrators and teachers when it comes to sharing information.
Dovi noted that the Henrico County project — the largest wireless network ever attempted by a school system — wasn’t expected to go flawlessly, but parents and teachers alike have raised objections to what’s happened.
One parent noted that the kids have been able to share homework with one another, and she’s voiced concern that the security of network servers may be compromised. School officials refuted the suggestion, and indicated that teacher files are inaccessible to students.
Henrico technology director Dr. Charles Stallard admits that the network itself has been overburdened, but he told Dovi that bandwidth is being added. Stallard also said that they were planning on doing that even before Henrico signed the deal with Apple this past May.
Teachers have voiced their displeasure at trying to develop an online lesson plan around the iBooks. Without having access to the content because of wireless networking problems or a lack of electronic textbooks has “turned a lot of teachers off,” according to one faculty member who asked to remain anonymous.
Some within the school system have also noticed some reliability problems with the iBooks. Dovi said that students have had to tape CD-ROM drive doors shot because of what Dovi called “a manufacturing defect.”
According to people close to the situation that spoke with MacCentral, the problem with the CD-ROM drive doors were caused by students prying the door open instead of using the eject key. While the people we spoke with admitted there should have been more training by Henirco County and/or Apple before the iBooks were given to students, many of the problems being talked about are not due to faulty equipment.
Students interviewed by Dovi said that they like their iBooks, and have found them to be important learning tools.