Student Tablet Hardware Melts, District Suspends $30 Million Amplify Program On Safety Concerns

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A North Carolina school district has suspended the use of 15,000 tablets after reports of multiple hardware issues, including the device’s charger melting at home. Guilford County Superintendent Maurice “Mo” Green has suspended the $30 million program on safety concerns.

The recall is a major sting for NewsCorp’s Amplify, which released details of its digital-first education initiative back at TechCrunch Disrupt 2012. Directed by former New York City education chancellor, Joel Klein, there are high hopes that Amplify can help bring K-12 education into the 21st century. But, melting tablet accessories aren’t a good sign.

“We recognize that suspending the program on short notice is going to be disruptive to students, staff and parents,” Green Explained. “My decision was made out of an abundance of caution, and I decided to err on the side of safety.”

Apparently, that’s not the only problem. As reported by News & Record,

“Parent Linda Mozell said her daughter and other students at Southeast Middle School had repeated problems connecting to the Internet with their tablets. And even though her daughter got one of the “hard shell” protective cases, that caused its own set of problems, she said. The keyboard’s hard-shell case kept rubbing against the tablet screen in a way that could scar it, she said. In addition, the cord connecting the tablet and keyboard broke easily, the stylus was too big for easy use, and the equipment came home without a user’s manual.”

Amplify has given us a response (pasted in full below) and tells us that the breakage rate of screens is around 3%, which compares to Asus’s industry average, around 2.5%. An Amplify spokesperson says the melting charger is (so far) an isolated incident.

Amplify and Guilford County aren’t the only ones experiencing hiccups with tablets. Los Angeles Unified suspended it’s 1-for-1 iPad program after students hacked through the filters, granting them full-fledged access to the bountiful wonders of the Internet.

Presumably the next round of Amplify’s tablets will not pose a safety risk to children. Amplify’s response is below:

“This week our largest customer, Guilford County Schools, informed us that a tablet charger, which was manufactured by ASUS, was partially melted while charging a student’s tablet at home overnight.

We are working to determine whether the issue was caused by an electrical problem in the student’s home or because of a manufacturing defect.

While the problem occurred with only one of the more than 500,000 chargers of this kind that ASUS has manufactured and distributed across the world, one instance is too many in our opinion. Nothing comes before the safety of our students, teachers and their families.

Out of an abundance of caution, we are requesting that Amplify Tablet customers cease all further use of the ASUS charger until we can determine the cause of the single reported malfunction in Guilford County, North Carolina.”