back to article Teachers: Make your pupils' parents buy them an iPad to use at school. Oh and did you pack sunglasses for the Apple-funded jolly?

Apple has reportedly been paying for Irish teachers to attend functions in the US, according to leaked docs. Four teachers from a school with a compulsory iPad policy in Limerick have racked up 13 Apple-funded trips abroad since 2015. They attended another five events in Dublin. Apple did not pay for flights but covered other …

  1. TRT Silver badge

    Irish educators thought they'd be needin',

    Computers for all of their cheeld'rin,

    To handle the blarney -

    T'was an idea not so barmy.

    But they'd forgotten the walled garden of Eden?

  2. oiseau

    Cad é an Fuck?


    Several Irish schools now require students to buy a tablet or iPad instead of using textbooks.

    Ubelievable, frankly outrageous ...

    More unbelievable still is that this stunt has not prompted the Irish government/parliament to ask for the immediate removal of all those responsible for actually authorising this crap, starting at the top of the ministry of education or whatever authority there is for that field.

    And that there are schoolteachers (who should really have known better) accepted to take part in these events speaks very poorly of them, independently of what an ethics officer or school board could have said.

    I do not need an ethics officer or school board to tell me anything about something as obviously unethical as this.

    What this world has come to ...


    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. EnviableOne

      Re: Cad é an Fuck?

      not just the irish, my nephew's primary school in NE England, had the same policy (although not sure about the kickbacks...)

      and some of the parents were pushed to afford them.

    3. Blackjack Silver badge

      Re: Cad é an Fuck?

      I find unbelievable oarents just didn't riot at being forced to buy Ipads since is Ireland. I guess that for the next trick Apple will sell their patented pizza boxes to Pizza Hut.

  3. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

    We were required* to buy Dell+Windows 10+Office365 laptops for both our kids at middle school - from the helpful Microsoft/Dell monopoly vendor to the school. They'd very carefully priced in a 'service subscription' with the accompanying warning notice in bright red letters that although we didn't HAVE to go with the recommended laptop from the recommended vendor, if we didn't we wouldn't be eligible for service on site, would not have access to the remote management tools for password resets and so on, and woe betide us if our children couldn't complete an assignment because their non-standard laptop had a problem; they would not receive any tolerance for misbehaving hard/software.

    Because I'm out of the country for 2 weeks every month and my wife is non-technical, we ended up buying the laptop+service subscription - in case something happened when I wasn't around and the school decided to be an arse about a non-functioning laptop.

    €990 including 3 year service subscription & Office365 Student. I worked out that we're paying about €300 for the 'service' component over 3 years.

    I'm not ABSOLUTELY sure that the borderline blackmail sales tactics are actually illegal, but it's VERY sharp practice and I hate them for it. I just don't have time to take them to the cleaners like I want to.

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      >Dell+Windows 10+Office365 laptops

      Bet they were under spec'd ie. a typical Dell mid-range business laptop from 2010 running Win7 and Office outperformed it.

      I know the ones, one of my local school's have been mandating since 2013 have been so useless that kids avoid using them and only carry them around school because "its the rules" and parents purchased laptops/PC's more suited to running Office concurrently with Spotify, YouTube etc. which naturally stayed at home. Fortunately, the school deal did let parents install Office365 etc. on the home system(s).

      1. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

        It's a ruggedised Dell Latitude 3300 i3/8GB/128GB/13". Average spec, retails for around €650 without the ruggedised spec so paying about €300 over the odds for the 'service package'. It's not so much the laptop, it's more the blackmail - especially as my kids already had perfectly good laptops.

  4. ExampleOne

    I notice the schools in question are not identified. Without that information, given the small number schools, it's hard to know if this is just Irish fee-paying schools making a technology choice, or if it is corruption in the state school system.

    I would also, humbly, suggest that from my memory of an Irish school bag, if the eBooks are sufficiently cheap or free, an iPad might actually be a lot cheaper over a couple of years than the textbooks they are replacing.

    1. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

      Certainly in Holland, an iPad would be MUCH cheaper than the textbooks; assuming they don't then charge you for the digital version as well.

      1. Tom 35

        They love digital textbooks because you can't buy a used one cheap or resell yours to the next grade. I hope you don't expect it to be cheaper.

        1. Kane

          "They love digital textbooks because you can't buy a used one cheap or resell yours to the next grade."

          *cough* screengrab *cough*

          *cough* jpeg *cough*

          *cough* email *cough*

    2. big_D Silver badge

      When I was at school, the textbooks were provided by the school. The exercise books as well. We'd get issued with the textbooks for each subject in the first lesson, we'd then put a paper cover over them to protect them.

      If you were very lucky, you'd get a brand new textbook, but 90% were re-issued from previous years.

      We only had to pay for the logarithms and trigonometric tables book (I still have mine) and pens and ink - although I had a fine-tipped Italian fountain pen in primary school and I could get around 50 words to a line, I was told to use a "sensible" pen and write bigger!

      1. Venerable and Fragrant Wind of Change

        Likewise - in theory.

        But those textbooks weren't usable. Tatty, soggy, fallen apart, and above all, they stank. Not something you ever wanted to touch, let alone open.

        1. TRT Silver badge

          Ah. Anaglypta book covers. It's the wallpaper paste that makes them soggy, you know.

    3. joeW

      The Dublin schools are named in the linked Times article - Kingswood Community College and Swords Community College. Not sure about the Limerick schools.- they might be named too, but I can only see up until the "Please Subscribe" on the Times.

      1. wegie

        Gaelcholaiste Luimnigh, the article says further on.

    4. Mage Silver badge

      Which Schools?

      I know one of the schools.

      If it's just about text book weight, why not ANY 10" or larger laptop or tablet, iOS, Mac OS, Chromebook, Microsoft, Android or Linux.

      Why would decent Irish Language text books be ONLY on the iPad?

      If the text books are only on the iPad that's a scandal too, a much bigger one.

      1. slartybartfast

        Re: Which Schools?

        Maybe it’s to keep everyone within the ecosystem these companies build for themselves...or the blatant sales tactics by Apple.

        1. EnviableOne

          Re: Which Schools?

          thats the real issue, as they have to have an iPad, then they have to have iTunes, then iCloud, then an iPhone, then iMac then a MacBook, then and Apple Tv then an iRac (sorry thats a country, or their new shelving range)

          But in order to use their leased content they have to stick to the highly inflated Apple Eco-system.

          Atleast with Android/Windows, you have a modicum of choice and there are cheaper options

  5. big_D Silver badge

    Our daughters had to have an exact model of Texas Instruments scientific calculator, here in Germany. A cousin needs one now, but it is, of course, a different model now.

    These things cost over 100€ each! For a poxy calculator!

    You can't use an App on a smartphone or tablet and you can't use a different make or model of calculator, they all have to have the same one.

    1. Tom Chiverton 1

      Suggests they are teaching the tools, not the reason...

      1. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

        Not necessarily teaching the tools but allowing the teachers to tell the kids to do something, knowing they can, and showing them which buttons to press when necessary, without some kid with non-standard kit bawling "my calculator doesn't have that button, how do I do it?", the teacher having to waste time solving that problem because they daren't say "fuck knows; you chose to buy that, you figure it out".

        I don't rewrite my C example code just because someone won't install the C compiler that requires, or wants to use some other programming language - not unless I'm being paid and given the time to do that.

        1. DavCrav

          "I don't rewrite my C example code just because someone won't install the C compiler that requires, or wants to use some other programming language - not unless I'm being paid and given the time to do that."

          Do you work in the public sector, where people are required to use your services, and is the C compiler paid for? If not, bad example.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "I don't rewrite my C example code just because someone won't install the C compiler that requires"

          In that case you not writing a C example, you are writing an example for that particular compiler.

          which is stupid, just like only teaching kids how to use one particular caculator.

          FFS teaching should be the underlying principal of HOW not fucking "this is how this manufacturers product X does it", That just lines them up for failure in the real world when they can't use X.

        3. Martin an gof Silver badge

          Often seems to be because a particular model of calculator is both sufficient for the task and (crucially) not so clever that it's banned from exams. The schools here though do seem to say 'a calculator such as /x/'. Interesting that the standard calculator when I was doing A-levels was a Casio FX82 and the current standard for GCSE - is an FX85, which sounds like just an updated version but is actually a far more capable unit with dot-matrix display and 'natural order' calculations and step-through of entries and costing (relatively speaking) probably half as much.


          1. Adam McCormack

            It was the mighty FX-7000G when I were a lad ... wasn't a pre-requisite but it did make A-Level maths easier

            1. Roland6 Silver badge

              >but it did make A-Level maths easier

              How things have changed...

              For A-level maths, I remember it was rare to have to get the slide rule out.

              At degree level maths the calculator (Casio Scientific fx-100) also got little real use, but then for the serious number crunching bits, there was Fortran, the NAG Library and the data entry service.

              Interestingly, my daughter used it (the fx-100) for her GCSE's and achieved a 9*.

        4. Roland6 Silver badge

          > but allowing the teachers to tell the kids to do something, knowing they can, and showing them which buttons to press when necessary,

          Then teachers have got a lot less intelligent over the decades. In may day teachers were more than capable of helpig students use any of: mental maths, pen & paper, log tables, slide rule and those new fangled calculator things including the reverse polish ones.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I hated that absolute rubbish.

      Went through my college years with a chosen-by-me HP 50g using RPN, and that calculator is a much more capable beast in my eyes than the TI83+ I had to slog around with before...

      Obligatory XKCD...

    3. Rainer

      Those calculators are great, though.

      At school, a simple one was enough back then.

      But at university, I needed a programmable one.

      And unless you insist on installing some games on them, there are also far fewer distractions than with a laptop or a tablet.

      So, while it costs 100, it's really priceless in overall benefits.

      Though, technically, in the exams I had it was mostly irrelevant if you had a result at the end.

      You got most points for understanding the the questions, formulating a solution-approach and showing how you'd solve it. That was usually 85-90% of the points.

      I actually once forgot mine and approximated most results in my head/on paper. Was still enough for a good exam.

      As for the article - I do agree that learning something from a physical text-book is much, much better. You learn best by engaging as many senses as possible. Being able to physically grab pages of a book is invaluable.

      At least, they use Apple hardware. It could be Chrome books, ensuring the kids get conditioned from early age to watch ads and buy the products. That would be much worse.

      1. Terje

        One thing that makes a calculator different from phones / computers is that you can let students have them on tests without as much of a risk of cheating.

        Personally I still use my trusty old HP48gx solid enough to substitute for a brick for self defense use.

      2. Willy Ekerslike

        My grandkids are issued with Chromebooks when starting secondary school - all homework is issued and submitted on them. I was working with some pupils on a STEM assignment, which required them to run a presentation at a local university. When they got there they found the presentation couldn't be accessed via the university network. Fortunately, I'd asked one of them to let me see a copy of their presentation on a USB stick - which I happened to have with me and they could run it from that using a local laptop.

        I suppose Chromebooks are the cheapest way to get all their kids online, without asking parents to fork out for better but I worry about tying kids into Google. I have a personal gmail account - but only because one of the charities I work with used Google Drive for sharing documents.

        Similarly, I find it strange that many people who complain about data harvesting by Microsoft and Apple happily run Chrome or gmail...

        1. Mage Silver badge

          Chrome books

          The Google Chromebook is in some ways worse than iPads or iMacs.

    4. Teiwaz

      Exclusive devices need in Schools

      Thankfully, a much,much much much cheaper dilemma

      When we were starting cursive writing at primary, I remember we were told we needed an ink pen. My parents provided my with a ballpen (maybe a rollerball) but that was rejected by staff. I think I ended up with a Schaefer.

      Ink pens are really messy for left handers...

      1. Venerable and Fragrant Wind of Change

        Re: Exclusive devices need in Schools

        My recollection of ink pens is that they were totally messy for right-handers too.

        Perhaps cleaner options exist. Maybe if your budget is in the ballpark of an ipad? Hang on ... I don't even know how much that is. Maybe the budget for a macbook pro?

        1. Bowlers

          Re: Exclusive devices need in Schools

          'My recollection of ink pens is that they were totally messy for right-handers too'

          Bottled ink could be quite messy too, especially if you didn't want the Ink Monitors job...know what I mean?

      2. Imhotep

        Re: Exclusive devices need in Schools

        We had fountain pens when learning cursive and slide rules in math. God, I'm old.

        The nice thing about slide rules: you had to know to to a rough degree what the answer was going to be in order to place the decimal point, and you knew you could only take the decimal point out to a certain precision.

      3. slartybartfast

        Re: Exclusive devices need in Schools

        Same for me. We had to use an ink pen. Never used one in my adult life which begs the question: why were we forced to have to buy one to use at school?

        1. swm

          Re: Exclusive devices need in Schools

          I had a Chinese friend who said he was forced to use a paint brush for drawing the "icons" of the language.

          1. Allan George Dyer

            Re: Exclusive devices need in Schools

            That would be an ink brush to write the characters. Can also be used with water to use on special paper where it shows until dry... for repeated practice. Experienced calligraphers can use a sword to carve significant phrases into rick while flying, as demonstrated in various documentary movies. Who says schools don't teach useful skills?

            1. Allan George Dyer

              Re: Exclusive devices need in Schools

              @Me: That's rock, not rick, sorry.

              1. Kiwi

                Re: Exclusive devices need in Schools

                @Me: That's rock, not rick, sorry.

                You were almost on a roll there!

      4. Aussie Doc

        Re: Exclusive devices need in Schools

        I hear you.

        Damn, just smudged the screen with my left hand again.

        Hanky's in my pocket.

      5. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: Exclusive devices need in Schools

        >Ink pens are really messy for left handers...

        Using a left handed pen helped a little (the nib is ground at a different angle to a right hand pen) but what helped most was right to left mirror writing. Unfortunately, it was a habit I had to drop as for reasons I didn't understand at Primary school, others such as teachers found it hard to read....

    5. 2Nick3

      I had a programmable calculator in college - they were a must for a number of Engineering classes. The school recommended a certain model, but did not require it (and you could get it at a good price through the campus bookstore). I got the recommended model, and was able to get class content from friends a few years ahead of me in the program. The infrared data transfer wasn't fast, but would finish up while we were eating the dinner I'd buy as way of saying Thanks. Those who went with other models saved a bit of money, but were on their own for setup and use.

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      My son's schools always specified a model of TI calulcator that was required ... however, they were pretty cheap. I think the issue was that exam boards were specifying what types of calculators were permitted in exams as, presumably, some advanced models might either do everythign for the student or have ability to store illicit info etc.

    7. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      cheap calculators

      A while back (~20 years?) one of my brats came home with a recommendation from the teacher for a very expensive scientific calculator. having seen the type of work she was doing at the time I suggested a much cheaper alternative to the teacher who responded that it didn't have a log button. I said "but she doesn't even know how to use log tables yet" - apparently I'm a dinosaur, seems nobody uses them any more, just as well I didn't send her to school with a slide-rule. (More of a problem I suspect, do those who use the log function on a calculator understand logs?)

      I did concede and bought a calculator with a log function but still at a fraction of the price of the school's recommendation.

      There is an argument that its easier to teach a class if they all have identical kit but no reason why it shouldn't be identical _inexpensive_ kit. Also needing to rely on a specific model implies that they're being taught how to use that device rather than how to use scientific functions.

      In retrospect the kid in question still has not the faintest idea what a log is (well, if asked, would only know the word in the sense of firewood).

      My other brat came home from school telling me he needed Macromedia Dreamweaver for his IT homework (to make a small web-site) as that's what the school used. I pointed out that at the time it cost several hundred pounds (the school got theirs FOC) and that a pirate copy would be illegal and at risk of introducing malware.

      He got on fine using a text editor and HTML/CSS but he got a poor mark for the completed web site because he'd not used Flash for the buttons (and teacher didn't understand HTML/CSS). Rewrote the project to use Flash and - surprise! no benefit but much larger total filesize and slower page-load times. His basic understanding of HTML is still useful and I'm surprised to find Dreamweaver is still available, at a cost of £20 a month, and that it is still being used (on 0.3% of all websites).

      On the subject of calculators, I still have my RadioShack EC4075 programmers Hex & Time calculator and use it most days ~40 years old, LCD still fine, 2xAA cells last 10 years. Should it die before me it will be a sad loss (no log button but I find I am able to live without that luxury).

    8. Mike 137 Silver badge


      Not only are these calculators expensive - they're also so badly designed that they thwart the development of mathematical understanding. The linked paper above was published in 1999 but none of the problems it describes have been fixed to date.

      Considering the general imperfection of all the products, the emphasis on specific marks and models could be seen as an attempt to indoctrinate future consumers with arbitrary brand recognition, whereas the true function of education is not merely to instil the ability to get the right answers to specific problems but the cultivation of independent thinking as the basis for lifelong autonomous learning.

      There is of course a more uncharitable view - that it saves the teachers having to think too hard if everyone is using the same kit and following the same instruction manual. When I was teaching, the "course materials" included even the answers to the multiple choice test papers, so in principle you didn't have to know the subject to "teach" it.

      So this might conceivably be a way to accommodate weak teaching skills, but ultimately the last thing either corporate behemoths or governments want is a population that thinks for itself - that could lead to lost profits and social chaos. In general in the "democracies" they don't actively suppress it, but there's a loose and probably subliminal confederacy of thought between the two that paternalistically assumes they are the arbiters of good for an incompetent populace. The result is nevertheless effectively the same as that of active suppression, except that it's more durable by virtue of being covert. The acid test of successful brainwashing is that the victim doesn't realise anything untoward has happened.

    9. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      My daughter's secondary school mandates a specific model of scientific calculator, which they sell at school reception for less than £10... They also sell a ruler and a geometry set for less than you can pick one up on the high street. However, if your child doesn't have some form of internet access, they won't be able to find out what their homework is, and the science textbook seems to be only available online. Teachers end lessons by saying "I've put your homework on $School_Homework_Portal..." rather than saying what the homework is.

  6. Blockchain commentard

    I'd have thought Apple would be giving all students (and teachers) an iPad in lieu of paying any taxes. What, too soon?

  7. mark l 2 Silver badge

    This sort of thing might fly in private schools, but any state run school should be providing the resources the kids need to complete their eduction. Whether thats old fashioned paper books or if they want to replace these with tablets, then they should be providing them. This should also cover them being taken home if the school require them to use a computer/tablet to complete home work.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      You would have thought this would be the case .... however when my son went to a brand new secondary school in Bristol 10 years ago I found in a govenors report on their website that they'd seriously considered attempting to use electronic devices for text books etc and require parents to buy the devices thorugh a payment plan of £10/devce/month .... and as this was pre-iPad the devices they were intending on using were HP IPaqs (i.e. a display about the size of a mobile phone). Fortunately sanity prevailed and they did do this .... however they were very proud at the start that their library contained computers and no books!

  8. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

    To summarise... (from the comments above)

    They (being suppliers of Kit to schools etc) are all in it (up to their necks).

    They are clearly NOT [see icon]

    1. swm

      Re: To summarise... (from the comments above)

      When I taught in college various book companies would send representatives selling their text books. I always asked what the cost was and they said, "We'll get back to you." The never did. I chose a text book that was quite cheap and then had problems with the college book store (I guess because their cut wouldn't be much). I said, "No problem, my students can get the book on Amazon." The book store got the book.

      1. stevebp

        Re: To summarise... (from the comments above)

        My college lecturers used to insist I buy the books they had authored! No-one blinked back in those days....

        1. Intractable Potsherd

          Re: To summarise... (from the comments above)

          Yes - a book that was basically their lectures compiled into expensive format with a few extra, barely relevant, examples, it it was like my experience. I tended to go and browse the local bookshop and find one that covered basically the same stuff but from a different point of view, or differently formatted - I found it much better for learning. If I liked the lecturer, I'd perhaps buy their book, too.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    When my son started at university he asked me if I would het him a new Macbook as his was a few years old. So I did. Was that a mistake. It turned out that he needed windows. Nowhere was that small fact mentioned be before he started his course.

    So I bought a copy of bloody windows and used Parallels to install it. It seems his lecturer was not pleased and started to give my son a, er, lecture about rules. I would have loved to seen his face when my son started windows up. Seems he must have forgotten who pays his wages. Effectively my son. A fact I took great pleasure in reminding him of a few weeks later on some open night do.


    1. Fred Dibnah

      Re: University

      I gave mine a few-years-old Thinkpad, a docking station with a key, and a Kensington cable to tie it to the radiator in his room. Everyone else in his student house left their shiny Macbooks lying around all over the place. When the house was burgled, his was the only laptop that didn't get nicked.

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: University

        There is a reason for that...

        1. MiguelC Silver badge

          Re: University

          Actually there are at least two reasons, but the one you thought about is the right one ;)

          1. Anonymous Coward

            Re: University

            I would hope not! That reason being too blindingly obvious to have merited posting!

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: University

        "When the house was burgled"

        We've a student house next door to us and when we first moved in ~20 years ago it was almost traditional that in August new students moved in and in September we'd have a knock at the door from the Police to say there'd been a burglary next door and had we seen/heard anything suspicious. After a few years (perhaps after prompting from the police) the landlord improved security and the breakins seemed to stop!

  10. Dan 55 Silver badge

    Where have I seen this before?

    This is just the same stitch-up as the school scientific calculator racket (especially the conclusion from 5:05 till 6:30, replacing Texas Instruments with Apple and TI-81 with iPad).

    Is there anything they need before university that school-hosted NextCloud + NextCloud sync app + Libre Office on hardware of their own choice couldn't do?

    1. Rainer

      Re: Where have I seen this before?

      They probably have no-one from the academic body who is willing and capable of administrating this stuff in his spare time.

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: Where have I seen this before?

        I am sure, given the right regulatory push, SMEs could spin up a solution for schools if the school can't do it itself.

        But this is the kind of thing I could see happening in countries like Germany rather than the UK.

        1. Kiwi

          Re: Where have I seen this before?

          I am sure, given the right regulatory push, SMEs could spin up a solution for schools if the school can't do it itself.

          Back when I was in Fidonet there was something in NZ called "K12" (which I suspect was international), and it had a lot of support from local businesses. Was probably quite useful for them as from what I know the businesses involved were the ones people went to for service as needed. And, well, since we know you from getting the kid's machine fixed we might as well see you for the home one as well (not that so many people had home computers back then, or the money to buy one!)

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Where have I seen this before?

      "Is there anything they need before university that school-hosted NextCloud + NextCloud sync app + Libre Office on hardware of their own choice couldn't do?"

      I'd go a step further than that. There ought to be scope for Chromebook level hardware to run the client end of that. Apart from the educational use it would make a secure travel machine without depending on a Google back end.

    3. elgarak1

      Re: Where have I seen this before?

      This video starts history too late. The TI school calculator racket started way earlier than this video claims, when there were only scientific calculators.

      I finished school (High School equivalent) here in Germany in 1988. At some point (must've been 1982 or '83) we had to get a scientific calculator. The non-graphing kind, they weren't quite there yet. We either could get a TI-30 FROM THE TEACHER, or an approved equivalent from somewhere else. I was/am a science/math geek, so I already had a Casio that luckily was approved.

      At some point I learned that the teacher would get a cut from each calculator deal they made. TI already had taken over the school market when other manufacturers started to release graphing calculators with these cartel deals.

      1. elgarak1

        Re: Where have I seen this before?

        Note that the goal for the racket was different back then. Back then, the idea was that students would get to buy TIs when they got a job, much like educational discounts on software nowadays.

        However, nowadays NO ONE NEEDS to use a stand-alone calculator anymore professionally. Once you get a job, you can use apps and proper computers. For calculator manufacturers, there's only one market left, and that is education (and a handful of geeks like me, but they even lost me because the current calculators are crappy tools for their prime function – calculating – and crappy teaching tools. Speaking as a physicist who had to teach the less mathematically inclined at some point.)

        1. Mike 137 Silver badge

          Re: Where have I seen this before?

          "nowadays NO ONE NEEDS to use a stand-alone calculator anymore professionally"

          I concur that current calculators are poorly designed, but with great respect, I disagree they're unnecessary. Actually, when doing electronic product design on a secure (not internet-connected) computer I regularly use a TI-30 and a 1987 vintage Tandy EC-4014 calculator that does Boolean algebra.

          I get worried by the widely made assumption that you can trust an arbitrarily chosen online resource - particularly if it's "free". Any fool can set such a thing up and they do, witness the recent Siraj Raval scandal.

          It's been my experience as an engineer that you need to get used to your tools. They all have idiosyncrasies and issues, but once you know them you can usually work round them. On the other hand, there's no warranty that the online calculator is the same today as it was last time you used it a few days back. It's probably been "updated" and thereby broken in new ways.

          1. elgarak1

            Re: Where have I seen this before?

            How big do you think the market is, of professionals who would go out and buy a well designed calculator? I'm one of those people (but I treat this as a hobby and collecting), but I estimate it's not very many people.

            I mean, even if you're offline for security reasons, you can still use a calculator app on your tablet or phone. I have a bunch of emulated HP apps that blow many actual (physical) calculators clean off. They're often based on the original code. You can often switch between the original (with all the bugs that were there back then) and the upgraded bug-fixed code (re. trust, reliability, and reproducibility. If you want, you get the exact same wrong calculation the HP-41 made back in the day because of a bug).

            So yes, some people do work where calculators would be nice and useful. I do, too – I actually use the HP-15C revival that HP released a while ago, though it's becoming a collector's item by now. But I don't NEED to use or buy such a physical tool.

      2. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: Where have I seen this before?

        I take it, if people were making commissions out of it, the TI-30 lost its unique selling point somewhere on the trip over from the US to Germany, which was its cheapness.

        1. elgarak1

          Re: Where have I seen this before?

          Not entirely wrong.

          One should note that back then...

          1) There was no internet and no online shopping, and you're sitting in semi-rural Germany with only a handful of stores where you could buy calculators with knowledgeable sales personnel.

          2) There were tons of different scientific calculators.

          3) There were tons of different (but mostly identical) calculators *from the same company*, some of which were specially made for schools, and/or for *German schools*. From the teacher, you wouldn't get just a TI-30, you would get the TI-31 EDU DE (that's paraphrased, not a real model number, but you should get the gist). Functionally identical to a TI-30, except for one function disabled (that Germans educational boards wouldn't want kids to have), and one button labeled with the German expression instead of English. Except that in stores you wouldn't find the TI-30 anyway, but only the TI-32 DE Special Edition...

          What should a parent do who do not want to do work for the kid's school supplies, didn't know anything about calculators, didn't WANT to know about calculators (they all look the same anyway) , much less do work for MATHS CLASS that everyone hated anyway? Just pay the protection money and collect bonus points from the teacher...

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Where have I seen this before?

        At the time I had a TI programmable calculator, it was notorious for the "Texas bounce", where one key press would result in the pressed value being added a random number of times.

        Good calculator, let down by a terrible keypad.

        Later replaced it with a solar Casio. They seemed to be Casio or Sharp by then.

    4. Kiwi

      Re: Where have I seen this before?

      This is just the same stitch-up as the school scientific calculator racket (especially the conclusion from 5:05 till 6:30, replacing Texas Instruments with Apple and TI-81 with iPad).

      I still have my old FX82C somewhere around. I think the only 'advanced' function I used on it was the brackets for some calculations - but that was a few years later when I was doing my apprenticeship. Was told it was a 'must have' for high school but could've done much with pen and paper - and would've preferred to have been taught maths without using electronic aids.

      It may still have its original batteries as well, but if it does it probably is rather dead.

  11. Zarno

    Between today and tomorrow, that "textbook" can be changed, amended, extended, and redacted.

    Can't do that to the dead tree editions.

    On one hand:

    You can fix errors, and push them out to pupils easily, saving resources and reprints.

    Textbooks may be updated more than once a decade at some schools.

    Course updates are much easier.

    Video of things like cell division, vs static images.

    Audio of things like bird calls.

    On the other:

    You can change, censor, redact, and control what the same pupils see. Don't want XYZABC taught? Skip that checkbox.

    Batteries go flat.

    The cost of the platform+tablet, to both parents and schools, after the honeymoon period is over.

    Vendor lock-in.

    Will the material be usable in 20 years?

    Can't borrow a friends copy easily as a broke college student. (I've seen $100 a semester digital portal fees required to get your assignments handed out to you vs "check page 237 of the book"...)

    In the end, there's a lot to think about.

    I'm rooting for team Dead Tree Edition, because I think the kids need the exercise of lugging that backpack of books around.

    1. Claverhouse Silver badge

      With Thanks to Heroes of The Soviet Union, The Apple Collective

      Between today and tomorrow, that "textbook" can be changed, amended, extended, and redacted.

      Can't do that to the dead tree editions.

      Generalissimo Stalin was assisted by the loyal Comrade Ter-Petrosian

      Generalissimo Stalin was assisted by the loyal Comrade Trotsky

      Generalissimo Stalin was assisted by the loyal Comrade Tomsky

      Generalissimo Stalin was assisted by the loyal Comrade Lunacharsky

      Generalissimo Stalin was assisted by the loyal Comrade Kamenev

      Generalissimo Stalin was assisted by the loyal Comrade Zinoviev

      Generalissimo Stalin was assisted by the loyal Comrade Bukharin

      Generalissimo Stalin was assisted by the loyal Comrade Kirov

      Generalissimo Stalin was assisted by the loyal Comrade Yezhov

      Generalissimo Stalin was assisted by the loyal Comrade Ryutin

      Generalissimo Stalin was assisted by the loyal Comrade Teddy Bear

    2. swm

      I guess you have never seen the "course packs" touted by book companies. The professor makes up a book by choosing sections and the result is printed thus guaranteeing that the book cannot be used by next year's class.

      1. Zarno

        Oh dear lord, that's a thing now?

        Nuke it from orbit....

  12. Chairman of the Bored

    Universities in US

    Commonwealth- funded universities in Virginia run the "Dell, Windows, O365, and 'recommended' support package" scam through their for-profit but somehow government owned captive portals. The artsy majors are required to go Apple. Prices are much higher than free market, but not quite as extortionate as, say, the mafia. But the hook is the the monopoly they hold on service on/near campus. If you bring your own, or heavens forbid use Linux, fire and brimstone shall be upon your head.

    On the other hand, my daughter's uni has Matlab, Mathematica, MathCAD, SPSS, and other top shelf technical software all on tap for free student use. That's pretty awesome.

    1. A-nonCoward

      Re: Universities in US

      "all on tap for free student use"

      for free, and no student debt whatsoever, right? Right.

      Let's start the day right

      1. Chairman of the Bored

        Re: Universities in US

        Ok, fair enough!

        Thing is, though, the First National Bank of Dad (*) is paying almost full freight on this ... Provided of course the major and degree are ones that have value in the real world of employment and careers.

        How people can think that getting a fine arts degree financed with $250k of debt will ever work out is totally beyond my understanding. But then if we get in a politician that somehow magically erases all student debt, I guess I will be the fool and not them.

        (*) Supplemented by years of, "Oh, you want cash? Get off your ass and work for it!" Kids are not going to take the studies seriously unless there is some skin in the game

    2. 2Nick3

      Re: Universities in US

      Sometimes that Support contract is wonderful to have...

      Laptop "stops working" and the student just goes to the IT department and gets a replacement. Standard model, standard platform build on it, so the only change is the serial number/asset tag. Which isn't normally tracked well enough (by the bored student who does the swaps and only verifies that there is an asset tag on the machine being turned in) to determine who turned in the machine with most of a can of Mountain Dew dumped in the keyboard...

    3. MrBanana

      Re: Universities in US

      "On the other hand, my daughter's uni has Matlab, Mathematica, MathCAD, SPSS, and other top shelf technical software all on tap for free student use."

      But it's not really for free, is it. Those companies aren't a charity, they are investing in the future by indoctrinating your daughter into "the right tools" to demand when they go out and get jobs.

      1. Chairman of the Bored

        Re: Universities in US

        Software firms not a charity... Quite right.

        My exposure to MathCAD and Matlab at school have definitely made me a MathCAD and Matlab bigot. These days, though, my Matlab habit is starting to fade as the open source Octave answers for most needs, and now python + matplotlib + scipy.

        But, then, victory goes to the bold. Companies take a real risk putting fully functional software out there, and this takes more guts to do so than - say - corrupting education officials with free holidays.

        As a manager I've had to spend some time educating college interns, new hires, and even senior employees moonlighting as college faculty that it is unethical and illegal to use their academic software licenses for work. No matter how bad out organization's procurement processes suck, we cannot abuse license terms. Lately this seems more and more like a novel concept (!)

  13. LucreLout

    Oh dear.

    Four teachers from a school with a compulsory iPad policy in Limerick have racked up 13 Apple-funded trips abroad since 2015. They attended another five events in Dublin. Apple did not pay for flights but covered other costs.

    Firstly, if the school want a compulsory iPad policy then they can bloody well buy them. If I'm buying the tech then I'm choosing something better value for money and which is likely to be more secure (just ask Jennifer Lawrence what she thinks about AppleSec).

    Secondly, the teachers/staff shouldn't be getting paid jollies from any provider where parental purchase is mandatory. It's a clear conflict of interest and utterly impossible to separate from bribery.

    This behavior is expressly prohibited in the real world, and should be in education also. I can't even give or accept a £30 gift for a client without a formal declaration and justification from a more senior manager first. Even going for lunch on a vendor is tricky unless we stick to the pub.

  14. Will Godfrey Silver badge

    Not just 'elsewhere'

    I was quite stunned to hear that this is also happening in England... even in some primary schools.

  15. Lee D Silver badge

    As an IT Manager at a private school that had a "parents pay for a managed iPad" policy for four years, let me update you on how that went:

    We have no iPads.

    Pupils all have Chromebooks.

    Not just that the iPads are pretty much unmanageable en-masse, but also that you HAVE to buy them via Apple directly, brand new, latest versions only, or they just don't get the management tools (DEP).

    Apple School Manager is an inherently stupid piece of junk. It can't handle even an iTunes account created on a pupil's email account previously (i.e. before you all got iPads) without shutting down said account for months to let it "expire" before you can then create a managed equivalent.

    Apple's tech support has literally ZERO interest in schools, whatsoever, no matter how much invest (we were deep into 6-figures, they couldn't even be bothered to help us one iota).

    They would not take a complaint (separate to the below) that there was an app called "Bypass your school filters", rated at 4+. Yet Chrome itself was rated 18+ because "it let you on the Internet". The official word I received from their support guys was "It's up to the app provider to modify that." And, believe me, I went through everyone I could.

    They do not have (or certainly, did not have until very recently but I haven't contacted them in a year) any education department whatsoever. Look forward to going through 10 people who are only used to explaining what granny can do to reset her iTunes password for even the most complex of MDM scenarios. I was literally asked for "the iPad serial number" when requesting help with a 500+ device MDM problem, and they refused to continue without one. I was told repeatedly that they don't have an education department at that time (despite having released Apple School Manager, etc.).

    Their devices are inherently fragile and break about 2-3 times more often than any other comparable product when in the hands of children. Repairs are unbelievably expensive and they won't support devices which haven't had official repairs. They themselves have testified before an EU court that their devices are only designed to last one year (it was how they tried to get out of providing a statutory 2-year EU warranty).

    Apple cannot, will not, and never have given GDPR assurances. They pay lip service to "working on it", "as part of our GDPR work", etc. but they won't give you the guarantees that EVERY cloud provider will happily send you there and then the second you ask for it. They are likely not GDPR compliant at all (iCloud is a mix of worldwide AWS, Azure and Google Apps instances / servers / storage - The Reg themselves have covered taht).

    Apple's complaint procedure is literally illegal. They wouldn't take my complaint, wouldn't respond to my complaint, wouldn't register my complaint, wouldn't inform me of their complaints procedure, refused to confirm even their head office details, and just passed me from pillar to post even with recorded-delivery signed letters from their own customer asking for legally-required basic information.

    Steer well clear of Apple for anything, but most especially for education.

    1. Mike 137 Silver badge

      "Apple cannot, will not, and never have given GDPR assurances"

      Nor do Google in reality, so the Chromebook offers no advantage other than lower price. Then there are the ads.

      1. Is It Me

        I think this counts as a GDPR assurance:

        "Committing in our contracts to comply with the GDPR in relation to our processing of customer personal data in all Google Cloud Platform and G Suite services"

        Taken from

      2. Lee D Silver badge!?modal_active=none

        Google Apps for Education has no ads or ad-tracking, they also gave me a written assurance that the data is stored and processed in a UK/EU datacentre (that's changed over the years), and without prompting have sent me any number of data processing statements over the years.

        Apple... nothing.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Apple did not pay for flights"

    tight fisted Apples... Microsoft used to pay your stay and flight when "training" Ministry of Education employees in Miami, for the banana republic I was part of way too long, and other such places. Anon for obvious, especially when they denied my august presence, I was in their black list because Linux. Oh happy fun times!

    Linux never was able to get much of a foothold, $1 DVDs with Microsoft, Adobe, whatever trash you wanted available in any main street.

    The government paid ridiculous amounts for fees, and kept doing it, depsite an avowed policy for FLOSS (percentages for certain higher ups, well known, and of course more "training" trips)

  17. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "The move comes as research suggests that kids and adults absorb less from digital screens than paper books."

    It depends on the books. This laptop has a reference library of books which include many volumes of J. Yorks. Arch. Soc. and Wakefield Manorial Rolls. All searchable. Most of the later series WMRs I had in hard copy before they went on line on but they're less useful. An annoyance about that is the fact that Cambridge "helpfully" reprinted some of the first series of WMRs and they didn't get put online. I bought them but they're also less useful than the remainder of the online series.

    1. nematoad

      You are not comparing like with like.

      On the one hand you have adults with special interests and needs. On the other you have children with a lot to take in, much of which will be of no interest, with less maturity and possibly less mental development.

      When I want to do research I much prefer to have a hard copy of the reference. I find it easier to use and with the added advantage that it will never run out of power and is usually a lot more robust in the area in which I use it.

      I maybe not typical but this research is on to something.

  18. TRT Silver badge

    Apple used to have...

    a superb education provision. I put in a pitch to our IT central to go PowerSchool because it just did the lot, baby. Timetabling, assessments, work from home, academic records... everything.

    The next year Apple ditched it in Europe, declaring it to be a dead duck. Carried on in many US states, mainly because of the buy-in and they didn't want to let the state bodies down for fear of being sued into oblivion. But it was a superb piece of work. Wonder if it's still alive? Of course, those were the days Apple made servers and stuff.

  19. SVV

    13 Apple-funded trips abroad since 2015.

    That's a billion euros in unpaid tax per "free" trip according to the current EU case against Apple's alleged Irish tax avoidance deal. Bargain!

  20. Venerable and Fragrant Wind of Change


    I wonder just which is the worse,

    the void, or the apple's new curse?

    The ipad for all,

    or no textbook at all,

    Like the background that brought you this verse?

  21. Mage Silver badge


    What Apple and the Limerick Educators are saying doesn't match reality.

    There are BETTER printed Irish resources and if you MUST use a screen, a laptop is better and cheaper than the walled Garden iPad.

    No screen at all is proven to be best.

    70% markup and a walled garden designed purely for browsing content.

    It smells of either idiocy or corruption.

    Other thoughts:

    1) They shouldn't be locked to Apple,

    2) They don't need screens except in very few subjects.

    3) It's proven to be poorer than education without screens,

    4) Anything cloud based should be illegal.

    5) The ease of use is a lie. It's just inflexible.

    1. Mage Silver badge

      Re: Lies

      If it's just about textbook weight, why not ANY 10" or larger laptop or tablet, iOS, Mac OS, Chromebook, Microsoft, Android or Linux.

      Why would decent Irish Language text books be ONLY on the iPad? Which if true is a scandal too, a much bigger one.

      I know one Limerick school that does this. It's wrong headed. You can't object, because then you'd not get in.

      Note in most Irish Schools the parents have to buy the books. There is a racket in primary school where many textbooks are also combined workbooks that can't be reused.

      The ones that aren't are changed regularly.

  22. martinusher Silver badge

    Apple has been milking education for decades

    My wife's school ("back when she wasn't retired") went for iPads for everyone back when this was the Bright, Shiny Thing for education. To force the issue the school removed all other A/V aids while on summer recess which left the missus in a bit of bind -- she taught Physics and the they already had a computational ecosystem built around laptops for measurement and simulation. Adding iPads just made all this equipment non-functional, it wasn't replaced (no budget, the iPads had eaten it all) and so on. The school eventually fixed the Physics problem by dropping AP Physics (equivalent to A level) and just doing Physics as a 9th grade (US) course.

    I should mention that the hardware is the least of it -- textbooks on iThings aren't cheap.

    Apple have been touting the benefits of computers and stuff like that since the 80s, back when it was overpriced Apple ][ systems. Then Macs....

    Here in the US these days the main school computer is the Chromebook. Its cheap 'n cheerful.

  23. DiViDeD

    Not Just in Ireland

    From speaking to parents, it seems the policy of getting parents to buy iPads is well established in state schools here in ArseTrailer, certainly in Sydney. Pupils get a list of software which they must purchase in order for their child to participate in lessons. Of course, the software (or must we all call them "apps" these days?) determines the processing power required, thus guiding parents to the top end of the price bands.

    And every single software title is available as freeware on Android ( and mostly as freeware on iPad, although these titles are "not authorised"), which would make the cost to parents anything up to 10 times cheaper than an iPad, especially bearing in mind that these are children, children break stuff, and buying a new cheap Android tablet every year or so is a shitload less expensive than replacing iPads.

    Maybe it's an agreement between the Education Department and Apple as compensation for Apple's tax evasion compliance

  24. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

    Free iPads?

    Glasgow are giving out 50,000 free iPads to school kids.

    I'm guessing they got a good deal from Apple via CGI.

    1. Tom 7

      Re: Free iPads?

      My kids went/go to an iPad school. I cannot believe just how fucking shit the whole setup is. Its basically an email and browser system. Thank god the school sec knows what's going on as a phone call is required to find out anything about homework/sports events/exams or anything to do with the school that a parent or child would need to know!

  25. Joe Gurman


    I absorb written material much better from digital presentations of text (particularly if I have the option of reading in bright text against a dark background) than from the printed page, which I did for much of my life. I wonder if the studies grouped all digital media together, or separated phones, tablets, laptops, and desktop systems — I find reading text of any kind on a 27-inch (or larger), high-deft high-contrast flat panel to be much easier than on any other medium.

    1. Zarno

      Re: Funny....

      Based on personal usage of digital textbook/training materials, there's more of a distraction factor involved than anything.

      As far as regular reading material, I agree, high contrast white-on-black is much easier to read. Or green/amber-on-black, if feeling nostalgic.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    iReland the land of the iTard and dodgy tax deal.

  27. stevebp

    University Libraries

    Interestingly, the university I worked at, went hell to leather to replace all it's paper books and journals with digital resources *despite* the evidence, in front of them, that students prefer paper because they can spread multiple paper resources out in front of them and flick easily between pages and sections without worrying about charging cables and screens. Electronic devices are also disruptive because they tend to have email loaded on them - which distracts constantly, and the software encounters issues or needs upgrading (Windows is really bad at this), both issues which eat up the available study time. I marvelled at their arrogance despite the facts and the student satisfaction scores went tumbling downwards, of course...

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Re: University Libraries

      Hmm... now an ultra thin bookmark with maybe a small e-ink screen that's Bluetooth connected to your phone to alert you to an incoming call, text or email... sounds like a great idea! That way you can read a paper volume and still be in touch with the world.

      Or is that more of a nightmare?

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    off topic?

    Is there a correlation between negative references to the fruity company in a post here and down-votes?

    I sometimes see a non-contentious post getting plenty of up-votes and a small but inexplicable number of down votes. The only reason I can see is use of the "A" word in a manner "A" might regard as critical of their products or policies (and which I am carefully avoiding in the forlorn hope I'll not trigger the expected downvote).

    That's purely subjective, I can't be bothered to do the analysis.

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