By: Ayaan Ahmad — Correspondent
All teachers at Sharon High School have been offered new laptops to replace their current devices. The new laptops are 2020 13 inch M1 Apple MacBook Airs, a big improvement to the previous models. This came as a pleasant surprise to the faculty, as nobody expected the pricey upgrade anytime soon.
It seems unusual for the school to be able to make such a large investment given the current circumstances. SHS Network administrator Mr. Andy Farrer explains where the money came from to afford these devices. “Funding came from ESSR (COVID) grants to improve technology used by teachers for remote/hybrid learning, it was decided to purchase new laptops for teachers with that money (rather than desktops) because they would be the most helpful during both in-person and remote teaching,” he said.
A question that arises after such a big commitment is whether or not this was a good investment by the school. SHS Instructional Technology Coach Ms. Stacey Newman says she believes that the school made a good choice. “I do believe that the new laptops were a good investment. Many of our older laptops were starting to show their wear, during a time when we’ve needed to rely on those devices more than ever. While most of the old teacher laptops are still functional, it would be foolish to wait for these devices to die before ordering new ones. Lack of planning ahead for future needs always costs more in the end.” she said.
“Spending a little more on high end new computers not only results in longer lives for those devices, it reduces labor costs in several areas: Deployment, Support during the life of the device, and learning and adjustment to new devices and technology when the switch is made,” said Farrer.
There were clear defects in the older devices, hindering their functionality. “I’ve had my former laptop for 7 years and I constantly needed to keep it plugged in to an outlet in order for it to not lose its charge. It was also extremely slow, and I had to avoid making updates to certain applications in order to still be able to use those applications,” Newman said.
All these problems seemed to have been fixed in the new laptops. “The new device is much faster and can support multiple applications open and working at the same time. Additionally, I don’t need my charger at all during the course of a whole school day, which leaves me free to move around without having to worry about where the outlets are,” she added.
Farrer says he also sees similar benefits. “I have tested the new computers, and they are a night and day difference as far as performance goes. They are easily faster than months old high-end laptops, to say nothing of the 6+ year old teacher laptops they’re replacing,” he said.
Along with Farrer and Newman, physics teacher Mr. Jarrod Gorman also has good things to say about the new laptops. “The basic core of the MAC OS still remains and is consistent, so the transition is fairly seamless. There are some big differences with how Big Sur looks and feels compared to Catalina but overall they appear to improve the experience and operation,” he said.