Were Chromebooks the right choice?

LION staffers debate whether the addition of chromebooks into the curriculum at LT is beneficial to learning.

October 7, 2021

Chromebook contrivance

With the implementation of the new 1:1 Chromebook policy at LT, students have wider access to technology both in the classroom and at home. This is a new concept put in place at the beginning of the 2021-2022 school year. 

With this new program, every LT student is able to utilize technology for classes each day. All students now have full access to any digital programs that they may need for their classes. Prior to the current school year, students without personal computers would have to find other ways to complete online assignments, like visiting libraries. Due to COVID-19, this is more difficult than before, because public library hours vary and that gives students less time to complete assignments. 

While some students do not need Chromebooks provided by the school, if the school were to only provide Chromebooks to those who needed them, it would be unfair. It’s difficult for students without a computer to have access to the computers at LT; this way LT can get a computer for each student and not a miscellaneous amount for the students with no computers. The safest way to provide computers to those without them is to give every student a computer. This way, no one could possibly be forgotten.

Students who already have laptops at home can benefit from this new policy too. Bringing one specific laptop to school every day is useful and makes it less likely to forget a computer at home. This heightens the number of students prepared for the day and utilizes class time better. The new 1:1 laptop policy also provides easier access to high-quality WiFi that personal laptops brought to school may not have access to. With the Chromebook WiFi, students no longer have to hope that there is service in each classroom, and can submit assignments with ease. Computers from home could disconnect and passwords could be forgotten, whereas the school-provided Chromebooks are always logged in to the proper WiFi at school.

Students use their Chromebook in every classroom. Teachers utilize the computers more because they decrease paper waste and it is much easier to upload an article or assignment onto Canvas as opposed to printing everything out.

Before the 1:1 plan, if a lesson plan needed a computer, teachers would have to get a laptop cart and push it to their classroom or move classes to the Discovery Center. Moving to the Discovery Center is hard to remember, and many students could be late if they forgot where classes were meeting. Now that LT has the 1:1 plan, computer usage is easier for teachers and students alike.

While the Chromebook fee is something that adds extra cost, it is actually less expensive than other school’s technology fees. An email sent out to parents detailed the $150 technology fee including insurance, protective cases, and the computers themselves. On average, other schools typically charge around $175. For schools that do not have a separate technology fee, their registration can be at least $300, whereas LT’s registration fee only costs $25. This technology fee is very affordable compared to other schools, especially when registration fees are involved as well.

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Chromebook catastrophe

While the presence of technology in the classroom is not foreign to LT, the 1:1 laptop policy is brand new for the 2021-2022 school year. The plan equips each student with a Chromebook to use in the classroom for collaboration and learning–nearly 4000 devices have been distributed. LT included in an E-News Email from December of 2020 that the Board of Education made the decision to finance $1.1 million dollars from reserves to ensure each student had one for the fall, but it has come at a price for families too. An additional required $150 technology fee was added to online registration in order to cover the cost of Chromebooks and other related equipment like the protective sleeve and charger. The issue with mandating devices is that those expenses were unnecessary as the new policy does not significantly enhance the learning experience for everyone.

After an entire year of school behind a screen, students are ready to ditch the computers for face-to-face learning. Nobody wants to stare at their device for over seven hours each day. A main aspect of school is the social interaction that everyone lacked during virtual learning, and without that motivation, people faced academic burnout. Many teachers now even encourage students to take paper and pencil notes in class, while others actually forbid computer notes due to a lower retention rate. The Chromebook-centered curriculum is not what was needed to create an interactive learning environment when welcoming the entire student body back to campus.  

The once simple process of logging onto the Chromebook and desktop computers have evolved into a multi-step regime that takes away precious time from class. Students must type in their password at least once, then complete the two-step authentication by selecting a specific image out of 42 that relocates to a different spot each time. 

Not only is the original process of signing in tedious, but each time the laptop falls asleep while it’s open, students are required to input their information in again. It may not take long to type the username and password in; however, classes move quickly, and that time takes away from students’ focus. Having to sign in everytime is a tedious process that quickly grows verbatim. 

The expenses set aside to fund the 1:1 laptop policy could have been allocated to other areas in need at LT like individual air conditioning units for each class, so that students would feel comfortable in their learning environment. The heat at school was almost unbearable, especially for the first week of school, and the units could have greatly improved the quality of students’ experience. 

Another way the administration could have distributed the money would have been to invest in nicer quality technology for classes that heavily rely on technology; computer carts have been a great tool in the past for circulating the devices between classes who need them for specific lessons. The Board of Administration moved in the right direction in an innovative world dominated by technology; however, mandating Chromebooks for everyone is not what the majority of the student body wants for their education.

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