The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

Computer and Software Technology Needs to be Updated

It’s another work day in class, the perfect time to work on a laptop and get some research and homework done. Pick one of the small, black netbooks from the laptop cart, however, and nothing seems to go right. The computer starts up slowly and the web browser doesn’t launch. When it does load, the computer isn’t connected to the Wi-Fi network. The keyboard is difficult to use and the trackpad is unresponsive. These problems are a constant nuisance for students, as the laptop carts are used around the school everyday. With technology playing such an integral role in our lives and work, the school should attempt to replace the computers.

Some sets of laptops have been swapped out for newer ones (The Special Education Department received a new set at the beginning of the 2012 school year), but most are several years old and in need of replacement.
“Most of the computers have been updated or replaced in the last two to four years, we don’t update them all at once,” Assistant Principal Galen Rosenberg said. “The plan is always to try and update sets of computers on a regular basis.”

Now is the time for that update.
“The English, Social Studies, World Language and Math Departments’ netbooks are either two-and-a-half years old and/or five years old,” Information Technology Department Head Jay Santiago said. “The Science Department received donated laptops from Google and I estimate them to be three years old.”
The mere age of these netbooks necessitates their replacement. Consider the variety of software and hardware faults that the machines have and it is clear that they shouldn’t be used for much longer.
“Some of the carts have fairly old laptops on them, and often, the issue there is updating the software, which is a problem for sure,” Rosenberg said.

The netbooks, designed by the company Acer, fail to perform simple tasks, even though a majority of them run on Windows 7; Google Docs and presentations are just a few things that the machines cannot open.

The software isn’t the only issue. The diminutive size of the computers is the other problem — the pint-sized keyboard makes typing a hassle and the small mouse barely functions as a trackpad.

“The size of everything just makes using the netbooks a lot harder,” sophomore Lauren Stoops said. “Most of the time, typing is impossible because I’m accustomed to having more space between the keys and bigger keys as well.”

This mix of hardware and software faults makes for a painfully sluggish work time, whether the task at hand is trying to surf the web or work on a class project.

“Every time we use the laptop carts in class, I spend most of my time waiting for the laptops to start up or load a page,” Stoops said. “The amount of work that I get done is definitely disproportionate to the amount of work time that I get.”

Although the reasons to replace the netbooks are plenty, there remains an obstacle that prevents the high school from substituting the netbooks with newer ones instantaneously: cost.

“A new laptop costs at least $475, so multiply that out to 5 or 6 departments that have 36 laptops/netbooks to replace and it’s an extremely large sum of money,” Santiago said. “Even if the replacements were purchased at staggered intervals the bottom line cost is huge, upwards of $100,000.”

Although this means that replacing every laptop immediately is difficult, there are a variety of ways that the administration can go about doing this.

Recently, the school’s library has created a “project” on a website called, with the goal of  raising enough money to purchase Google Chromebooks for students unable to afford laptops. is a charity dedicated to raising money for art supplies, books or any other classroom necessities to help teachers who don’t have the means to buy the materials. Likewise, the school could do something similar to this, but on a larger scale to supply funding. Another option, of course, is fundraisers. With clubs at the school raising money routinely, the student body and the administration could work collaboratively to organize a huge fundraiser to purchase laptops. This would be a massive undertaking, but a completely achievable one if the school worked together to replace the antiquated netbooks.

With the influence of technology in our lives increasing everyday, this is an issue that necessitates immediate attention. The challenge of replacing the school’s notebooks may be great, but it is one that the administration and student body should actively work to overcome.

“Technology applications for instructional purposes, daily school business operations, communications, etc. has created an environment of accessibility and immediate feedback,” Santiago said. “The use of technology at our school and for education in general has become very important and integral.”

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