The wait for PowerUp Laptops ended on October 23. All students who paid the $25 deposit fee received an EliteBook Laptop from HP. Over 150 students at Carnegie Vanguard High School who took the Rhino Press’ online survey were relatively satisfied with the laptops’ features and efficiency, but left plenty of room for improvements.
On the first day students received their laptops it was made clear that it was necessary to charge their laptops at home before and student comes to school. That was reflected on the survey that was taken with students claiming the laptop charge was mediocre yet acceptable. Many educators have been adjusting their lesson plans to coincide with the use of the laptops. One participant of the survey stated that users from “different backgrounds who make different amounts of money all can use the same stunning laptop with many services.” The survey stated that laptops are very efficient and about two-thirds of the people who took the population preferred using the laptops while learning. Services like Office 365 are loaded on the computers and overall students are satisfied with the utilities on the laptop.
Productivity and Services
Although responses varied on the performance of the laptop, 73 percent of students with laptops use them daily. This has caused several distractions, and 63 percent of students have admitted that laptops have distracted them from their work. Although HISD set filters on their laptops, it only works when using the student wi-fi in HISD schools. Nevertheless, it doesn’t take a computer expert to bypass the filters to any website like uncensored Youtube, Facebook, and Netflix. This has posed several issues among respondents, who claim that the blocking resources such as Skype and inability to download tools like Photoshop or Spotify is “absurd.” At the mean time, other students enjoy the services, commenting that built-in resources such as Publisher and Outlook facilitate the communication and note-taking process.
Students in the classroom noted that while productivity increased, the classroom’s discussion and interactivity was lost. One wrote:
[It feels] disconnected. Everyone’s in his or her own little shell. It doesn’t feel like a classroom environment or a school anymore. Just a portable computer lab.
An issue has aroused: students at schools without the PowerUp Program can’t access the internet on their laptops. In 2015, when HISD plans for every school to have the PowerUp Program, this will be resolved. One student decided to get a laptop because “of the issue they said personal laptops were going to have with the internet. Many students have turned to bringing their PowerUp laptop as well as their personal one for the school year. One user wrote:
I have never found a need to type notes or create an excel spreadsheet in class so I end up using my computer at home for most of the tasks that I could use my power up laptop for. The inability to install software that I could use for school or school related work makes it so that I have little use for the power up laptops than to access email, or websites such as Wolfram Alpha.
The laptops all came with cases with a small pocket to keep the charger. Although considered “bulky” by most, these cases save the district money by not having to replace broken laptops or screens. Students comment that the cases “look ridiculous carried around” but have a professional look. A common sight in the hallway is the strap removed and charger left home. There are 3 popular ways to hold the laptop case: like a purse, like a textbook, or by the handle.
The PowerUp Program from HISD is in its beginning stages and has some hiccups here and there, but overall students are relatively satisfied with the laptops.