(LIZZIE PELZMAN / EYE OF THE TIGER)
You’ve never owned a desktop computer in your life. Or you did, but it’s an old box that ran Windows XP which you’re sure was put together before you were even born.
So how convenient was it when everyone in your class got a Chromebook—the luxury of at home access to the internet not lost on you.
Now you wished you had that old, rusty HP in your parent’s office again, something that could give you more freedom with the simplest of tasks.
I’m pretty finicky when it comes to the logistics of a computer’s performance. Moore’s Law states that the number of transistors in a circuit doubles every two years. In layman’s terms, this means computers get twice as fast and half as expensive. So that means we have a constant progress of faster computers throughout our lives, and every year is a new innovation for technology.
But the school’s Chromebooks? I could hardly call that technology.
Now, I don’t expect the latest-year models or the shiniest specs from the school, but the least they could do is make them work like real portable devices. Using one under the school network is simple enough, it automatically connects you, then on the palm of your hand loads the information superhighway (or at least, the ramps and exits that the district lets you through). We’re all used to this, this is how it has worked since Chromebook carts started rolling into classrooms.
Using one outside of school has become a completely different virus.
I’ve had my slew of inconveniences having to use a Chromebook at home. I had to take apart my personal computer from a never-ending chain of issues that rendered it unable to even show light; I’m stuck with this bundle of Dell’s masterpiece in collaboration with Google’s art gallery of an operating system. Trudging to the website of my math class truly was an experience I’d never forget. Researching for essays was also exciting; the small feeling of adrenaline then bliss when that one website suggestion that piqued your interest isn’t actually blocked. Even writing this very article left me speechless, quite literally, as I couldn’t log in to any Google account other than my student email whether I liked it or not.
I’m not saying these Chromebooks are completely useless. It’s perfectly capable of opening and editing a Google Doc, which is the extent of what most classes use it for. But more than 95% of the students in the school own a smartphone, and it opens the average Google Doc 21 times as fast (I did the math—my Chromebook took 45.04 seconds to fully load a document while my phone took 2.15 seconds to load the same one). Packaged with the gray slabs come other minor issues like having to log in and reopen everything every time the Chromebook even blinks, along with any other Wi-Fi connection that’s not the school’s getting disconnected every 10 seconds.
What’s the point of using them? Other students have asked the same question—and they subsequently substituted their plastic bricks with their own Windows and Mac laptops.
Of course, with the advent of classes fully relying on the Internet for classwork and submissions, any kind of technology that can utilize it is essentially required to do work. I’m sure that there are students who appreciate the portability of these Chromebooks and their effect on online productivity, or at least their usefulness as an extra powerbank for their smartphones.
Basically, it’s better than nothing. But “nothing” is a low bar to beat.