The Technology Struggle of Online School



Technology is becoming more and more relevant and important in our daily lives, and Morgan’s instruction has also become more technology-based. The school gives students Chromebooks to use for the entire academic year. However, with the Coronavirus Pandemic forcing many students to learn from their homes, Chromebooks are in many cases no longer effective.

The head of technology for Clinton Public Schools, Frank Rossi, responded to the complaints made by many students. He said, “I am very well aware of the many problems students are dealing with in regard to their Chromebooks. Given the nature of our learning, the demand for using technology has increased across all grade levels”. This issue is very important now more than ever due to the fact that both students and teachers are more dependent on technology.

Right now the school is in the remote learning model until December 3rd but during the winter, we will likely be switching from model to model. We not only use the Chromebooks for our independent learning, but we also use them to communicate with students and teachers through Google Meets. “Students are using their Chromebooks and are relying on them more than ever. Students are also using them in ways they haven’t regularly needed before becoming more dependent on video playback, live-streaming, and video conferencing,” Mr. Rossi said.

Image via The Valhalla

There are many variables in this problem, and another one of them is Wi-Fi. The school has its own Wi-Fi that connects to the Chromebooks. When we are learning from home, we are at the mercy of our own internet connection, and however, strong or weak that connection is, factors into how the Chromebooks run while we are at home. Mr. Rossi explained that “when you factor in the number of additional connected devices working “behind the scenes” in people’s homes – things like Ring doorbell cameras, smart light switches and bulbs, garage door openers, smart appliances, smoke detectors, security cams, and other smart home devices- they add up and all require their fair share of data”.

The school has heard all the complaints from students and staff, and they are doing everything that they can to make sure that everyone has the tools they need to stay connected to school especially when we are learning remotely. Mr. Rossi explained that the IT staff in Clinton is working under difficult circumstances. He said, “The best we can do right now is try and maintain communication. The IT staff is doing everything in our power to collect, repair, and return devices as quickly as possible. We are having an incredibly difficult time securing parts from our resellers, and the warranty repair process with HP has shown significant delays. We thank the teachers and students for their flexibility”.

Image via West Des Moines Community Schools

Junior Will Curry, had Chromebook problems during online learning: “When you’re in a Google Meet, and you try to open anything else at the same time as that Google Meet, it hardly functions.” Students have Google Meets every day while distance learning and each Google Meet is roughly 70 minutes long. This makes it very difficult to do other assignments in the class if the Chromebooks cannot function efficiently while in a Google Meet.

The school is also going to be doing distance learning until December 2nd, which means that until then, the Chromebooks will be crucial for learning. Will said, “I think that just more awareness would probably fix it.” He thinks teachers can work around some of the limitations of the Chromebooks.

Junior Declan Hayes, not only had problems with his internet connection but also, some of his teachers were not very patient. He said, “Some of them were understanding in the fact that we couldn’t really do anything, but others were not”. Chromebooks have been a very good tool in previous years, however, in 2020, their usage is significantly higher and the tasks that students need them to do are not always possible.

Remember, the IT department can only help you, if they know that you need help. Let teachers and the tech department know that your Chromebook is not working so that it can be fixed and then you can get back to learning.

On Thursday, November 19th, Mr. Rossi sent an email to The Morgan Community providing some guidance for updating the Chromebooks and using home Wi-Fi that may help some students with their Chromebook problems:

“Chrome recently released a pretty significant critical update to the operating system. Although all of the Chromebooks are set to receive updates automatically, depending on how you use it and whether or not it’s restarted, your Chromebook may not have them. As we scan devices through our software we can see multiple devices with a non-compliant Chrome OS. To fix/check:

Open a browser window/tab
type chrome://settings/help in the address bar
When the “About Chrome” screen opens, it will either automatically begin to update, prompt you to check for updates or tell you the device is up to date.
Please be sure all devices are up to date before submitting a ticket.

If you are experiencing your Chromebook showing you are connected to your home wi-fi, yet you cannot access the Internet, please try to reset your home cable modem and/or wireless router.”

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West Des Moines Community Schools
The Valhalla