Are Personal Chromebooks in School Worth the Hype?


Dilpreet Kaur

Student Maansi Amin uses her school given Lenovo Chromebook 300e.

Vikash Patel, Vishwa Patel, and Kripa Patel

In recent years, many school districts have begun distributing school-issued devices to their students and faculty. In September 2018, the Woodbridge Township school district students and staff were among the first to receive the Lenovo 300e Chromebooks; however, since their distribution, issues with the Chromebooks have become a common occurrence.

Chromebooks at JFKMHS

The compact laptops features a touch screen with the Google chrome software which, at the time, retailed for approximately $200-$300. The students were to use the device for any school-related assignments they received through Google suites, such as Classroom, Docs, Slides, etc. The teachers were able to grade papers, assign work and observe their students progress. Additionally, all students were able to participate in virtual learning via their free district-provided devices. Using Google Meet, teachers were able to administer online classes for their students during the pandemic and monitor their students’ screens. Senior Akshara Ramesh shares her thoughts about the Chromebooks.

“When there’s a lot of online research that needs to be done, the Chromebooks give us accessibility to the Internet and the outside world,” Ramesh stated. “It’s nice to have a separate device just for school.”

Although the device distribution was a huge hit at first, it did come with its own drawbacks.

Were Chromebooks the right choice?

Not long after the rollout of the mini laptops, many users started experiencing technical problems. According to a survey conducted by The Torch on the students and faculty of John F. Kennedy Memorial High School, the most common problems regarding the Chromebooks were the mousepad, keyboards, touch screens, battery life, the speed of the device and the software itself. According to our survey, 65% of students do not like using their Chromebook, with 82% of those users experiencing issues with their device.  Many individuals reported taking good care of their device and still ended up having issues with their Chromebook. Additionally, only about 10% of people in the survey prefer using their Chromebooks, compared to 90% of people who would prefer using MacBooks or their own personal devices. 

After analyzing the responses from the survey, The Torch interviewed a few students at JFK. Junior Rida Kadri stated that having the Chromebooks made her more organized with her work since everything is in one spot. As a result, she does not have to carry around heavy books and school supplies.

However, she also reported facing many tech issues with her Chromebook.

“The screen would flash on and off, and my touchscreen stopped working at one point,” Kadri said. “It would start clicking things randomly, especially when we were virtual and this was the only technology I had available to me. It would keep clicking the ‘raise hand’ button while we were on google meet and it would disrupt my class.”

When asked about her opinion on the replacement and repair process of the Chromebooks, Kadri said that after giving her Chromebook to the school in order to complete repairs for her mousepad, she didn’t have her Chromebook returned to her for over approximately 5 months. This left her to use her school-given loaner Chromebook over the course of virtual-learning. Despite having a loaner, she still faced more difficulties, because the loaner did not have a touchscreen. Overall, Kadri felt that these struggles made online learning a much more complex experience for her. 

According to our survey, it can be inferred that the repair process is lengthy due to the Chromebooks’ poor build quality and durability, which in turn created more Chromebooks that required repairs. Senior Janki Patel stated that she was not able to take her AP Exams due to her Chromebook.

In conclusion

Since the implementation of the Lenovo Chromebooks, there have been many highs and lows regarding their use. Just like anything else, the Chromebooks haven’t created a flawless experience for the students. Indeed, the laptop devices have increased productivity by creating a whole new learning experience that will last for generations. However, due to the many problems that come with the chosen device of the Woodbridge Township School District, students still face many issues completing their work due to the unpredictability of the laptops. Many students and staff agree that the district should switch to a more premium device to increase productivity and reliability. Also, there is a shortage of staff who are capable of repairing the Chromebooks, causing the repair process of each student or faculty’s device to take weeks or even months. Regardless, students and teachers love the idea of having devices in class; that is, as long as those devices aren’t the Lenovo 300e Chromebooks.