By: Anthony Yauch
It is now official, that Seton-La Salle will be receiving Google Chrome books for school use next year. I for one, am thrilled with the update to our classroom technology and congratulate Mrs. Martin on her forward thinking. But, there are some concerns with this upcoming innovation.
In the letters that we received with our report cards, we were told that the laptops will be a “1 to 1 initiative.” So, I went to ask our principal Mrs. Martin what this means for us. Mrs. Martin told me, “Every student receives a laptop for as long as they are at Seton-La Salle.” I followed up by asking if we will receive the laptops before summer starts. She answered, “No, everyone will receive them before school begins in August.”
I also wondered if students will be able to use their laptops freely at home? Unfortunately, she replied, “No, because the Chrome books are on Google’s cloud based network, it will be followed any time students log into their Chrome accounts and anywhere there is an Internet connection. This means that any website or app that is blocked at school will be blocked anywhere else on Earth.”
Other students have been heard to wonder what will happen if a laptop is broken or misplaced? Mrs. Martin assured me that this problem has been considered already, “We will be on a loaner system. This means that if a student breaks or loses a laptop, they will be given a loaner laptop until it is found or repaired.”
I also wanted to know what her opinion was of the advantages or disadvantages of having these new devices in our classrooms everyday. Mrs. Martin said, “For advantages, I would say that every classroom now becomes a computer lab. It also gives students unlimited access to student documents. As for disadvantages, I would say that there are no disadvantages, but challenges that come with them, as in; students misplacing it or forgetting to charge it before school.”
As excellent as it was to talk with our new principal and get the truth, rather than rumors and guesses, I still have my concerns with this new system. One of the big problems is that the laptops are extremely limited to what they can do because of the cloud based network. This kind of computer doesn’t have any of the software we are used to because Google and Microsoft are not cooperative with each other. This means that the school must still keep the ancient Dell desktops that we all know and love so that students can access certain websites that are not available on the Chrome books.
Also, the new laptops would have the newest versions of Google Doc. This is great because students now have a convenient way to type papers, but it could be time consuming to transfer over old Microsoft Word Documents to the new system, and Google Docs is good, but it doesn’t yet work as well as Word. However, rumor has it, the two programs are highly compatible.
Something great about the new laptops is that now students do not have to keep carrying around loads of paper. Soon everything will be on an electronic file and weigh almost nothing. This is also a ‘green’ ecological advantage because fewer trees will be cut down. The applications are highly organized on the new laptops so that also means potentially fewer notebooks for students to lug around. And also as technology gets more and more advanced, they may even develop electronic textbooks that are compatible with the Chrome books which means less weight to put in our dilapidated book bags and much more space in our lockers.
As students of Seton-La Salle, we should feel flattered to be trusted with a laptop to be used anytime at school. They are a huge responsibility and must be taken care of at all times. I hope we all consider that every time that we use the laptops irresponsibly, we may make the limitations stricter for rule abiding students.
All things considered, I’m excited for the Google Chrome books. They are not perfect, but they could be an innovation that helps students, and they are certainly better than the nothing that we have now. As far as I can tell, nothing come from nothing. We either innovate or become obsolete. I look forward to being the vanguard of this innovative technology.