the southerner online | Face-to-face: Should students be required to use school-provided Chromebooks?
At the start of this school year, Atlanta Public Schools provided every student in Midtown with a Chromebook. These laptops were meant to revolutionize student learning and bring classrooms into the 21st century. This ideal did not succeed.
On a school Chromebook, signing in, connecting to Wi-Fi, and accessing a website can take up to 15 minutes. Every time a student shuts down a school laptop, however briefly, they completely disconnect it from their computer. This forces the student to log back in and open all of their tabs again, wasting valuable class time.
Despite the technological frustrations associated with school computers, many teachers in Midtown require students to use their Chromebooks and do not allow the use of personal computers. Banning personal computers sets a technological level playing field for students and ensures that no student receives an unfair advantage due to their use of newer technology. Additionally, using school computers helps prevent cheating, as teachers can see, in real time, what is happening in students’ browsers using the software. Safely.
However, on days when students are not taking assessments, there is no reason to ban them from using personal computers. By forcing students to use their Chromebooks, teachers are ultimately slowing students down and preventing them from using resources that can help them do better.
School Chromebooks are often so cluttered with web restrictions that they are unusable for many academic activities, especially research. Even some websites operated by APS, such as the APS Office of Student Assignments and Records websiteare inaccessible on school computers.
School-provided laptops are also incredibly clunky. With its protective case (which students are not allowed to remove), the laptop weighs about 4 pounds. It is equivalent to carrying five cans of soup around Midtown all day.
Additionally, students have limited access to images on their Chromebooks when connected to school Wi-Fi. If students have a presentation or collage to do for the class, they are not able to fully complete the assignment, often costing them points when those assignments are graded. Additionally, YouTube videos remain inaccessible to students on their school computers, even though many teachers are integrating videos into their lesson plans.
The ban on personal computers also prevents students from participating in extracurricular activities. For example, students participating in programs like robotics are unable to download and run crucial software on their school computers. Yearbook staff members use a specific website, Yearbook Avenue, to create the yearbook. On Chromebooks, the website is slow and unusable.
In order to circumvent these restrictions and increase their productivity, many students bring and use their personal computers to school. It’s faster and more convenient to use a computer that they know is reliable and doesn’t falter when performing simple tasks.
If students already carry their personal computers, whether for productivity or extracurricular activities, why shouldn’t they be allowed to use them for non-evaluation assignments? Ultimately, the personal computer ban gets in the way of students trying to be more productive and engaged members of the Midtown community.