Posted by: Staff | 01.19.2009

Laptops Will Make School…(insert adjective here).

article-laptops-copyTYLER STARR ’10

Since the beginning of this school year there has been speculation about the school’s position on the presence of laptops in class. Recently, laptops have become more present at school. Over thanksgiving break, an email came out from the administration announcing that laptops will become mandatory for students next year at Beaver. Now, don’t get me wrong, laptops are awesome. I have nothing against laptops, but I don’t think Beaver, or any school, should be able to require laptops for all students laptops for all students. Here is a rundown of the pros and cons of having a laptop at Beaver.

Laptops will make school…AMAZING?

  • Taking notes will be a lot easier. Especially as an upper-classman, you take a lot of notes in all of your classes. A lot of class time is spent copying down notes from the board. Laptops make it convenient to type notes or to receive the notes from your teacher over e-mail.
  • Lighter backpack. If having laptop means fewer text books, the weight of backpacks could be drastically reduced.
  • No more need for going to the computer lab. Reserving and going to a computer
  • lab has always seemed to be one of the hardest things to do for a class. With the introduction of laptops, there will be less need for entire classes to rent out a whole lab.
  • Three new classrooms. Lab 1, Lab 2, and the Graphics computer lab could all be superfluous. So maybe the seniors could finally get some form of lounge?
  • The internet. There are so many resourceful and amazing programs like Buzzword (an editing website which the newspaper uses), Diigo (a program the Butler’s Biology classes use) and WikiSpace (a program Ms. Nwokedi’s French classes uses) that will be much easier to use in and out of class. There are many other online programs that will help classes and make classes much more fun. A chemistry class could even video tape there lab and then put it on YouTube for homework.
  • FirstClass will finally work. Not everyone in the school uses their FirstClass e-mail account. This can be a problem for teachers if they need to contact a student who never checks their FirstClass account. With everyone using FirstClass on their laptops the school will become closer… technologically.
  • Beaver will become more eco-friendly. This could be the most positive aspect of using laptops. Text books could be supplanted with CD programs. Papers would be emailed. The world would be better a place.

Laptops will make school…PROBLEMATIC?

  • Where would we keep the laptops? Beaver does not have lockers, instead, we have cubbies which have been perfect to hold backpacks. The lockers near the vending machines don’t really count, less than 5% of the school uses them. Though I don’t know from experience, leaving your laptop in an open cubby risks quite a lot of damage. Though laptop cases are readily available at office supplies stores and backpacks can be suitable for carrying a laptop, the computer could still easily become damaged by being left in a cubby. If you don’t keep your laptop in a cubby, you could keep it in your advisor’s room, however this poses its own problems. Most advisors share rooms that would be a busy and crowded place to keep your laptop. Unless conveniently placed lockers around the school are installed within the next year, there really aren’t enough convenient, safe spots to keep laptops at Beaver.
  • Mac vs. PC? A lot of kids who bring their laptop to school use Macs. Macs and PCs use different programming systems as well as different versions of everyday programs. The school should make a decision to which brand of laptop or programs need to be required for a student’s laptop. Older PCs and older Macs are a pain to work with school computers because new school computers have Windows Vista. If a decision is made that all students need to have PCs, then there would be a lot of students who would need to buy new laptops. Around half of the student body who brings laptops to school has a PC, and the other half has a Mac. Would it really be fair to make half of the student body check their laptops in order to make a unified computer system?
  • Printers? If students bring their laptops to school, how will we be able to print anything at school? A computer needs to be synchronized with a printer to be able to print anything. If everyone brought their laptops to school and you needed to print something, would the Tech center have to synchronize each and every laptop with all the school printers? For that to work, all the printers and laptops would have to have blue tooth.
  • The school computers. What is Beaver going to do with all the school computers? Are there going to be no more computer labs or computers in the library? If only the high school students are required to bring a laptop, then are the computer labs saved for the middle schoolers who only make up a quarter of the student body? Beaver just got all these new flat screen computers over the past few years, is that just going to become a waste?
  • Games and Facebook. Wifi has recently been installed all around the school which is awesome. But the internet service that the school supports can restrict some of the sites that the computers could go to. So though it would prevent students from playing games during class, it would stop students from relaxing by going on Facebook or playing a game during lunch
  • Highlighting. If the school gives students electronic text books, how do you highlight? There is no place on the computer for you to then do active reading. This will limit the amount of information that one could get from a reading assignment.
  • Outlets. Everyone knows that laptops run on rechargeable batteries. And, again, unless the school requires that everyone has to have a six hour battery for their laptop, the laptops will need to be charged at school during some part of the day. Plugging in your laptop’s electrical cord can take time away from your class. Also, are there enough outlets in each classroom for everyone to charge their laptops? Will the amount of electricity the school uses to charge laptops be bad for the environment?
  • Do you need a laptop for every class? No! Definitely not! You don’t use your laptop in an art class, math class, most language classes, and most science classes (chemistry and physics). So for a freshman, who is required to take a language, history, math, science, English, and art class, you would only need your laptop for two out of your six classes.

Laptops are a helpful tool for school, but probably should not be required to bring to school everyday. The Beaver community is not technologically or structurally prepared for all students to bring laptops. Right now, the student body does not know much about the current laptop situation for next year other than the brief information written in Mr. Hutton’s letter to parents. It will be interesting to see what will come of the computer labs and the cubbies. The administration, in my opinion, should have talked to the student body and student body representatives more on this highly debated topic. Regardless of next year’s laptop situation, Beaver’s mission, “To offer an academically challenging cirriculum in an environment that promotes balance in students’ lives”, will remain unchanged.



  1. Textbooks: is there any evidence that textbooks actually *will* be replaced by e-books? But there’s certainly potential there.

    FirstClass: don’t forget FirstClass chat!!! 😀

    Mac vs. PC: shouldn’t be a problem. And certainly, students shouldn’t be forced to use one or the other. As long as folks know the difference between .doc and .docx, I don’t foresee much trouble. Besides, web apps are OS-agnostic.

    Printers: also shouldn’t be a problem. They could be shared publicly on the network; a quick email could show students how to access them.

    Games and Facebook: a key issue, of course. What, exactly, is blocked?

    Highlighting: I’ve been using a tablet PC (you can write on the screen) for six months now, and I love it. So this certainly isn’t an insurmountable problem. There are no Mac tablets, though.

    No, you don’t need a laptop for every class. But it has the potential to enrich any class I can think of. Though tablets are more flexible than most laptops, I suppose.

    And, for anyone making the switch from paper notetaking to digital notetaking–Word works, of course, but I *highly* recommend Microsoft Office OneNote. (It’s PC only, but there’s a notebook mode for Word:mac that works similarly.)


  2. It is completely awful that they are making everyone get laptops.

    It is unneccesarry and the admin didn’t even talk to us about it first.

    Books are a good thing. Our society is doing everything by computer these days. It is scary. School shouldn’t be some techno-world. I hate this. Why didn’t they talk to us about it??

    And of course people will be on facebook during every class. This is going to ruin our academics!!!

  3. I agree!

    Nobody wants this! The parents certainly don’t want this. Why didn’t the admin talk about this with us?

    Laptops will make us disconnected from teachers and other students.

    What is wrong with notebooks? There are 10000000 things someone could be doing on a laptop that no one can see.

    This is terrible.

  4. I am going to be on facebook in every class!


  5. I don’t think many students want this.

  6. totally laptops are the bests for students (am a student from 7th grade). we won’t need lockers or materials

  7. i think puting laptops in schools would be great but like you said problematic

  8. yes i agree whith evrything hear

  9. it would be totaly awesome and the schools should provide the students with the notebook laptops because then they could see them actually taking the notes

  10. мне кажется: отлично…

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