The Los Angeles Unified School District recently suspended home use of Apple’s iPad by students until further notice following the news that a number of students had bypassed the school-installed security features on the device. Just after one week with the devices, 300 LA USD students were able to bypass the content restrictions the district had installed on their iPads, enabling them to browse sites such as YouTube and Facebook, both of which were blocked along with several other sites by the district’s policy. Administrators were still handing out devices last week when the students’ workaround was discovered.
The district has now halted home use of the devices and scrutiny of the program has increased. Sources within the district are saying that the development may delay the rollout of the massive program that would see Apple providing an iPad for every student in the LAUSD.
To provide further clarification, each iPad comes with student profiles on the device which has restrictions built-in. These profiles are put into place to prevent students from accessing services such as Twitter, Pandora and other popular sites. The restrictions were extended to when the devices left the campus and were taken home, leading to many student complaints about the severity of the limitations. The students who were able to circumvent the restrictions did so by just simply deleting their personal profiles, leaving them free to surf the web, tweet, amongst other things. Shortly after the circumvention method was discovered the news spread throughout the district by word of mouth and Twitter.
With at-home use being suspended, several administrators were looking to head off further spread of the workaround as they believe that it raises potential issues regarding student safety. Two senior administrators said the following in a memo to the Board of Education and LA Schools Superintendent John Deasy:
Outside of the district's network, a user is free to download content and applications and browse the Internet without restriction. As student safety is of paramount concern, breach of the... system must not occur.
I'm guessing this is just a sample of what will likely occur on other campuses once this hits Twitter, YouTube or other social media sites explaining to our students how to breach or compromise the security of these devices. I want to prevent a 'runaway train' scenario when we may have the ability to put a hold on the roll-out.
Source: The Los Angeles Times