The COVID-19 pandemic has been the cause for schools to take drastic and unprecedented measures in order to cater to their students and faculty. At Lawrence Woodmere Academy, we witnessed a substantial investment into technology, as the school purchased around two hundred chromebooks — one guaranteed for every student.
Alas, these devices have backfired quite substantially, as the majority of feedback from the users has critiqued the performance of these machines, one teacher reporting that “the chromebooks are difficult to use.” The poor quality and performance of the chromebooks did not go unnoticed by other teachers either — a couple noting how “some of the chromebooks have trouble saving [their documents]” and also comparing the chromebooks to personal devices that other students opt to bring in, denoting how “the [personal devices] are much more advanced”
In all fairness, chromebooks haven’t been the only issue either, a more crucial one being the school’s network. One student stated that the internet’s quality is “terrible. [They] can only connect to this network once a day. Once disconnected, [it’s] very difficult to connect back.” When I inquired what the school’s administration could do to solve this issue, he told me they could “give us another network to connect to. And let us play the dinosaur game.” While reinstating the dinosaur game might not be as crucial, the idea of an additional network could be key in resolving this issue, as a mass influx of devices using the network seems to slow it down quite a lot.
Teachers also possessed some qualms about the network, a few being adamant on how the network blocks some websites. This can disrupt a class, as some educational videos or sites are inaccessible. Some seniors have noted how they are unable to log on to a college’s website to check their application - it is all blocked.
I asked teachers what the administration can do to assist them, one stating how they could “equip each room with stronger bandwidth. Students shouldn’t have to log onto their personal hotspot.” Another suggestion was that we “obviously [have to] get more money dedicated to the wifi and network.”
Another issue with the network and chromebooks is GoGuardian, an installation on each chromebook that allows teachers to view their student’s screens, as well as limit their browsing capabilities. While it might sound beneficial to students’ focus at first, GoGuardian has been a horrible addition to students’ laptops. Aside from invading students’ privacy, which is mentioned in several constitutional amendments, the application simply doesn’t work. Numerous students claimed how when their teacher tried to use it, GoGuardian crashed all of their laptops, effectively interrupting the flow of class. But the most important thing I found? Of all the teachers I interviewed, not a single one uses GoGuardian on a consistent basis. Zilch. Nada. What’s the point of having it if the teacher’s don’t even use it? And when they do use it, it ruins the class period! One mentioned how “almost all of my students are in person, so I can just go around and see myself.”
In order for the school day to ebb and flow efficiently, it is critical that our school’s technology issue is resolved as quickly as possible. Testimonials from students and faculty alike prove how detrimental this issue is to our school environment, and the best response of it being “satisfactory” is not going to cut it. Hopefully, the school administration can take the necessary steps forward to fix this.