This new school year has arrived with many changes, as anyone trying to navigate our new building will quickly notice. But so far, the most controversial change hasn’t been a flashy new music wing, a million-dollar football field, or chairs you can play bumper cars with. No, the biggest issue is one that hides in the backpacks of almost all students at FHS – our lovely Chromebooks.
Students and teachers alike have varying opinions on the district’s decision to give Chromebooks to all 7-11th graders. The initial reaction of most people has seemed to be a negative one – most students are annoyed with the fact that they now have another thing to carry around, in addition to their textbooks. The sheer amount of kids using their Chromebooks as an emergency phone battery or gaming device suggests that, sad as it may be, some High Schoolers simply aren’t responsible enough to keep track of a laptop. There already have been many incidents of broken Chromebooks. This writer has even witnessed one of her classmates knock their Chromebook off of their desk as they stood up, causing the corner of the screen to break.
A few teachers have had their complaints, as well. Many believe that, while technology does have its benefits in education, it can’t completely replace old-school methods, such as working out math problems with ‘good old’ paper and pencil. Also, though teachers are being encouraged to make use of the Chromebooks that most of their students carry, many teachers still have to locate laptops for the Seniors who do not have a personal device. And, of course, many Seniors have also expressed annoyance at the fact that they still have to use the old “Amish Laptops” just to participate in everyday class activities.
But not all of the Chromebook buzz has been negative – as people are getting used to the new technology, they are beginning to see its merits. For one thing, every student having their own device has saved a lot of class-time. One student remarked that “instead of taking all the time to get the laptop cart, sign it out, sign on, and wait for it to load, all you have to do is get your Chromebook out of its case and flip open the cover. It’s so much faster and easier.”
Using technology in class is now much less of a hassle than it had been in the past. The Chromebooks allow each student to have access to the online resources that are being used by almost every teacher. According to Mr. Dicks, FHS’s own tech guru, Chromebooks were chosen because of the huge amount of online content we now have: “We have Moodle courses, we have the Google Apps, we have a lot of web-based content… and we wanted to be able to give access to kids throughout the entire day, at school as well as outside of school.” As the student body becomes more familiar with the new tech, that access will begin to pay off.
Mr. Dicks also expressed his regret that every student was not able to be given a Chromebook. “It was a tough pill to swallow and it was a tough decision to make… We bought as many as we could, but unfortunately it wasn’t enough.” As for the reasoning behind not giving Seniors Chromebooks, “we thought, they’re in the district for one more year… maybe it would be best for them to become familiar with their own device if they had access to one, to help prepare them for whatever was next.” It’s not the ideal situation, but it appeared to be the best possible one given the circumstances.
For better or for worse, the Chromebooks are here to stay. They offer many new opportunities, but also new problems and questions. But never fear! The Saber Slate is here to answer your questions, and help you adapt to this new technology.
If there are any issues you would like to see addressed, please send them to our email: firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave them in the comments below.
If you have any specific questions, send them to Mr. Dicks at email@example.com, or check out his Chromebook blog: http://fps1-1.blogspot.com/