In a letter sent to parents, principal Martin Gleeson wrote, “The roll-out of e-learning which involved the use of HP Elite Pads and e-books should have been an exciting and new way of moving forward. The HP Elite Pad has proved to be an unmitigated disaster. We have met with HP representatives on a number of occasions to address the issues. To ensure stability and continuity of education I have ordered a full set of books for all the students."
The school is one of many that are adopting tablets this year, but they had bucked the trend of adopting a limited function device like the iPad or an Android tablet. Instead they decided to adopt a tablet that could function as a complete computer.
According to Mr Gleeson, a "year and a half’s worth of research was put into choosing the right device", resulting in the school picking the ElitePad 900, a 10" Windows 8 tablet from HP. This model has gotten decent reviews online, and in fact I can't find any indication of widespread issues.
But the school was having trouble. Students have experienced problems such as tablets failing to switch on, devices looping while performing automatic repairs, tablets spontaneously going into sleep mode, system board failures, and issues with wifi.
There's no specific data on the number of students having issues, but it is severe enough that the principal has decided to that the students will go back to using paper books until the issues are resolved.
And thus we have another stalled tablet program.
But wait, there's more. The school didn't have the funds to buy the tablets, so guess who got stuck with picking up the tab?
In what can only be described as adding insult to injury, the Mountrath Community School had required the parents to buy the ElitePad tablet. This is a consumer tablet that retailed for 620 euros in Ireland, but the parents were fortunate enough to to buy the tablets at a discount (550 euros). So not only were they saddled with a large debt, the parents were also stuck with nothing but a defective device to show for it. Ouch.
This differs from the other 2 struggling tablet programs I have reported on where if nothing else the parents weren't financially responsible for the school's mistake. The LAUSD used construction bonds to buy iPads while Guilford County schools used a federal grant to buy Amplify tablets (which were later returned as defective).
image by Mike Licht