Chromebook Laptops

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.

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  1. I’m a freshman at SLS this year and I agree with Brad in that someone needs to figure out about the kids that don’t have WiFi at home. I know my house doesn’t have wireless. Whenever my brother(in college) needs to use his laptop at home, he hooks up an ethernet cable to it and it would be fine. But since Brad pointed out that Chromebooks fon’t have ethernet ports on them, it presents a problem as to how they will be useful at home for some kids.

  2. I see that there could potentially be problematic with these Chromebooks, and I am not sure if SLS has the resources necessary to solve them (basing on what I saw last year; I can’t see how much changed since I graduated).

    First off, Chromebooks need an internet connection to function. If they don’t have one, all you have in your possession is an expensive doorstop. Basing on what I’ve seen during 4 years at SLS, they don’t have the Wifi capabilities that will be necessary. Wifi is sparse around campus, and when you do get a signal, it’s extremely weak. If Chromebooks are to be a success, the wireless technologies at SLS will need to be drastically improve. In addition, you have to keep in mind that you will need to potentially keep hundreds of these things connected to the internet and the Cloud at the same time. It seems like it could be a nightmare in the waiting.

    Also, when it comes to internet access, it needs to be realized that these night not be efficient at home. Even if you can get everything working right at school, there is no telling if people will have the things needed at home to get these things running. Since Chromebooks, as far as I know, lack ethernet ports, they will only be accessible to the internet through wireless. I know it’s 2012, and Wifi is extremely prevalent, and I am sure a majority of students have it at home, but you cannot say that they all do. If they don’t, then again the Chromebook will become useless at home, and any files they have stored on the Google Drive cloud will become inaccessible to them, right?

    Another potential pitfall I see coming is keeping these things powered up. A full school day is around seven or eight hours. Chromebooks don’t seem to have the battery capacity to run the full day. The Chromebooks I have seen say you can get up to six hours of battery life, however anyone who has owned a laptop before knows that you will never get close to that. So, what happens when the Chromebooks run out of power during the schoolday and the student still needs to use it for classes? Will there be charging stations for these, so the students don’t have to bring chargers to school and fight each other for the few power outlets available?

    A laptop in the classroom is a good tool that can facilitate learning, but it can also bring about new ways to goof off. There is no way that SLS will be able to block everything, because I am sure there are websites and apps that are appropriate, but just not appropriate during class. How would teachers combat this? As a college student, I can say for certain that it’s hard for teachers to do so. If you see one coming, you can just change the tab to something the teacher would “like to see”.

    Also, I just can’t see how much they will be utilized in general. During my senior year, I could name only a few teachers that were using the technology at their disposal fully and efficiently, probably because they didn’t really know how to use it. I don’t think that it can be reasonable to expect all the teachers to even understand how to use the tech appropriately. Of course I am assuming that teachers will be using it to electronically send handouts and assignments to students. I might be making an incorrect assumption. Furthermore, I can’t see these being useful in every subject. Math is definitely one subject where you can not rely on a laptop. You really need the paper and pencil to learn it well. Science you might be able to use them more, but not totally. However, I do think that the Chromebooks would be extremely helpful in English and History.

    These are just some of the thoughts that popped into my mind when reading this. Overall, I would applaud the effort to modernize (which is something SLS desperately needs IMO), but I don’t think it’s really the best way. I am extremely proficient and cutting edge when it comes to technology, and I still can’t see how it would be a great thing to rely totally on the Cloud. It’s not ready. If I were making this decision, I would just buy cheap PC laptops for all the students and install the Chrome web browser on it. That’s all the Chrome OS really is. With this solution you could still have access to Google’s cloud and you would still have a file system and much more flexibility.

    Oh, and one more thought…who is going to repair these when they break down (which they definitely will)? Also who is going to pay for said repairs?

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