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The Surge in Defective Chromebooks

By Kevin Liu

Alan Gjerstad uses a battered and bandaged Chromebook. Photo by Kevin Liu

At d.tech, students are expected to have an open attitude, a healthy amount of empathy, and a functioning Chromebook. Recently, it has become extremely difficult to maintain the first two, as many of the school’s Chromebooks have become defective. Take a look around your own classes; nearly every day you’ll see students using the single loaner Chromebook in class, while others use their “FIT Approved” devices rather than their broken Chromebooks.

The problems with the Chromebooks vary: they restart during timed exams, the keyboards don’t type what the writer had intended, they don’t turn on, or the Chrome OS disappears. Armando Lopez, an 11th grader, talks about experiencing some of these issues.

“The Chromebook I had before they replaced it, had OS problems which [kept me from turning] on my Chromebook at random times,” he says. “Sometimes my keyboard would not even work.”

Some students are reported being behind in their studies, purely because of how restricted they were with their devices. My own Chromebook broke a few months ago. I was told to take it to the DRG, where they would repair it. I spent a week without a Chromebook, and experienced many academic set backs. I didn’t have my Chromebook on workdays where there was no lecture. In some of those classes, the single loaner Chromebook in the classroom was already taken. This hurt my productivity and limited the time it took me to finish my work. Yet, I had a speedy recovery compared to other students. Junior, Bodhi Godwin, says it took him half a year to get a functional Chromebook after his original died.

After learning about this, I talked to Paul Cerra, our school’s Chromebook repairman. When asked how many Chromebooks come in weekly, he replied: “It’s random, but it averages at 4-5 units a week.”

I also asked him how long it usually takes for students to receive their new Chromebook.

“I’m the bottleneck since I’m only here once a week – we try to fix everything in that week” Cerra said.

It’s clear that something is up, whether students are mishandling their Chromebooks, the added software is messing with the Chromebooks, or that Chromebook parts do not have a long lifespan. Something definitely needs to change.

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