By Jesus Jimenez
MacBooks– The beating heart of an SLA student’s workload. Without them, it seems almost impossible to complete the sort of assignments given at SLA.
However, the computers come at a price. Each year, SLA struggles to find the necessary money — around $180,000 per year — to fund the freshman laptops.
This past year, the cost went up slightly when Apple discontinued their regular MacBook series, and SLA had to spend a bit more on MacBook Pros.
Searching for alternatives to the growing cost of the MacBook, both Principal Chris Lehmann and Tech Coordinator Marcie Hull were introduced to the Chromebook by their friends at Google.
Chromebooks are the new thing, with getting inside info from Google employees, Mr. Lehmann saw the potential for Chromebooks at SLA. They provide a whole new definition to productivity by giving you direct access to your google account directly from your desktop.
Addressing one of the major concerns,“The biggest thing they have going for them is the cost.” Chromebooks cost, on average, $199, compared to $1199 for a MacBook pro.
He added to the list of pros: “They are fully built off the Google app system and are designed to be a school computer.”
Ms. Hull has her own thoughts about how the Chromebooks would impact education at SLA. She described the Chromebooks as a “jump start” to what could possibly be a new learning experience for the entire school.
Ms. Hull explained one of the cons for the Chromebooks, saying “There are no executable files, you can and can’t do things”. Meaning, that there aren’t any .app or .exe files found in computers with operating systems such as Macs or PCs.
Loading a new operating system onto the Chromebooks that isn’t based on their default Linux-based one would be one of the learning experiences that Ms. Hull would expect. Finding alternatives to software such as iMovie would be another obstacle if the school were to order them.
Even if software were to be found, the Chromebooks still don’t have the same computing power as a Macbook. While this statement is supported by both Mr. Lehmann and Ms. Hull, the fact that Google’s Chromebooks have the potential to be an excellent tool in the classroom still remains.
The integrated Google Apps (Google drive, Gmail, etc.) system would be very beneficial to the students at SLA. In the past few years, the school has been experimenting with cloud-based technology as a part of our learning.
Enhancing the technology in room 300 would be an investment made from the money saved by purchasing the inexpensive alternative. They would make up for the lack of power and software of the Chromebooks by adding more iMacs with more power and faster speeds.
Regardless of what the decision will be, Ms. Hull said “…with any tool we choose, there is always a lot of work to make a 1:1 laptop program be functional and educational. The true goal is to have the tool disappear and the learning to be what [the students] see”.