A recent addition to the Camas School District is the Chromebooks, which students receive upon entering grade 6 and relinquish within a predetermined period of time. Some Chromebooks were rented by the district, which inspired the ‘no stickers’ rule for all Chromebooks, and the rest were purchased by the district. The thing that all Chromebooks have in common, however, is that they are made primarily of plastic and can break, and that factor has been impressed upon the librarians and tech staff at the school many times over.
Mrs. Johnna Christensen and Mrs. Terri Dickinson, Camas High School’s two librarians, are the go-to staff members when a student’s chromebook has some sort of issue, and they have experienced plenty of cases of chromebook neglect or just plain foolishness. The key to keeping your chromebook safe, they say, is to use the case that came with it.
“There’s a few things that kids need to do to make their Chromebooks last longer. One of them is to use the chromebook case. Kids don’t want to use that case, but they really need to protect that chromebook,” explains Dickinson. Without the case, many students’ Chromebooks are slowly but surely smashed flat in their overstuffed backpack. “The Chromebooks will get squished in the backpacks because they’re not using the case, and even batteries can go bad because of that,” Dickinson adds. A common problem with kids’ Chromebooks is the screen, whether it is cracked or has deep indentations of the keyboard on it, and the usual root of those issues is the case (or lack thereof).
Some problems go beyond not using the case and seemed preposterous at first but were very amusing to hear about. Christensen recalls some of the more outrageous things that students’ Chromebooks had experienced: “We’ve pulled pizza out of Chromebooks, we’ve seen them – not necessarily on purpose – with a pencil stuck in the screen because they forgot that their pencil was laying on the keyboard and slammed their chromebook shut. We had one dropped off a third story building, because [a student] liked to go up there and study. We had one where they were balancing it on the railing up there because they were trying to type and finish up something last minute and it didn’t balance well and it went over.” Lucky for the students, however, the district is very understanding about chromebook afflictions.
Students with broken Chromebooks will only “get in trouble” if there appears to be deliberate damage to the chromebook. In any other case, the school takes care of the damage or, if it is too severe, provides a new chromebook. For anyone with the chromebook assurance, the first two chromebook fixes or even replacements are free, but those without assurance have to pay a hefty fee if their chromebook has to be replaced. Even if one doesn’t have assurance, many chromebook fixes are free. “The district replaces the batteries without any charge to the students, and it’s a really quick fix,” says Christensen.
As of late, it may seem as though there have been more cases of “chromebook abuse,” but the reality is, it’s just more students that have Chromebooks than before. Christensen points out that “the other things like screens and such, it’s not happening any more than it ever used to, it’s just that there’s more Chromebooks.” The Chromebooks will always have some problems, but if the case is used and proper care is taken, they will prove to be much less of an issue than ever.