New Tech Vs. Old: Students debate reliability and value of new tablets


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Tablets reflect steady improvement

Dominic Vela

With the start of a new school year comes lots of new things. New shirts, new pants, new shoes, maybe a new car, and, of course, new tablets. And for most of us, four of those things are very exciting; none of us, however, looks forward to getting a new tablet to use for our school work.

Having established this, let us take a step back and acknowledge a few things. First of all, no one can claim the new tablets – specifically, the ones that juniors and seniors have inherited – are perfect. They have their flaws, which I am sure my fellow staff member will explain in colorful and broad detail.

Secondly, our tablets are indeed a luxury and one of the many privileges granted to us as students. St. Thomas was at the forefront of implementing a tablet program, and many schools have followed in our footsteps.

Thirdly, for most of us, the tablets we are provided with are predominantly for use on campus and by no means are a replacement for our home devices. In fact, my tablet’s main function has become notetaking when I do not have pen and paper handy.

The majority of us have laptops or personal tablets that we use at home to get the lion’s share of our work done. Once I leave campus, I rarely find myself searching for my tablet do to anything other than charge it for the next morning.

Our technology department works constantly to make sure that we have the best and most up to date software in order to give us as students the best chance to succeed. That is, after all, the purpose of our tablets: to help us succeed. They are not meant to provide us with a device used for games or Netflix.

Our tablets are a luxury that is afforded to us so that our heavy workload might be a little lighter. A lot of time and money goes into making sure that our devices are functioning properly for the first day of each new year. Because of this, our new tablets change or eliminate many of the complaints many students have had for the past few years.

One of these was the absence of a document-based program like Microsoft Word. In the new tablets, a full edition of Microsoft Office is provided so that we not only have access to Word but PowerPoint and Excel as well. These programs are helpful when we are furiously working or writing in class and we need to keep up with a presentation or specific document.

Another of the common complaints I have heard is about the battery life. While I agree that it seems that a full charge is barely enough to keep your tablet running if you use it often during the day, using altered brightness settings allow you to extend your tablet battery life to all day usage levels. We should not be condemning these devices for something that is fixable with a few clicks.

An additional feature of our new tablets feature is a direct link to the new StudentPlus website, rather than having to go through the process of linking to it from a Google search or the school’s website. No one can completely defend our tablets without recognizing the fact that they have flaws. Few St. Thomas students can claim that they have never had an issue or problem, either on or off campus. However, for every negative aspect of these devices, there are just as many things to be excited about.


Learning atmosphere harmed by tablets

Domenic Patronella

St. Thomas is hard enough academically, and having to worry about my trusty tablet dying, breaking or just not functioning is an issue when I am trying to elevate myself in the classroom.

Students have been trying to overcome technology more than classwork over these past few weeks of school. This is the bone of contention. There is no room for disputing this.

Last year we were permitted to use our own personal devices and as a result we became comfortable with this technology. This year we downgraded drastically, to say the least. You would think that paying $15,000 a year for tuition would get us something a little more reliable.

There are a multitude of problems with the tablets this year, and we are not even through the first quarter yet. Speaking from first-hand experiences and listening to the complaints of others, this issue has to be addressed.

One of many problems with the tablets this year – specifically, the ones juniors and seniors have – is the keyboards. There is no way to tell if your keyboard is fully charged or if it is about to run out of battery, and this angers a lot of people, including me. Sometimes when they are fully charged, they do not seem to work, and they often malfunction, causing a specific key to be pressed endlessly. The final issue with the keyboards is that you have to charge it separately from the tablet which makes the use of the tablet all the more inconvenient.

The paramount problem with the tablets is the battery life. I am always scrambling around, switching seats trying to charge my tablet during class. For example, after charging my tablet all night, a solid eight hours, my tablet would only seem to survive for four periods. St. Thomas is supposed to be an ideal environment for education, but the tablets really do not make it so.

Another major issue is the connection to the school wifi. It is not that it is extremely slow, but it is so inconsistent. Everything would be running smoothly at one point, and then maybe two or three hours later I cannot even connect. This is a major problem because we cannot predict whether we will be able to use our tablets for what they were put in place for, to learn.

Another prime complication that the tablets bring are the app restrictions. In my time here, teachers always ask students to download some app that we will use during class. I have already been asked to download an app that has been blocked on the Google Play Store. This makes it seem like the tablets are hindering us in completing our school work and learning in the most efficient way.

I am not going to sulk and be pessimistic about the situation at hand. I have a solution that will benefit not only the students, but the whole academic community.

We should all have the choice on what device we want to use for academic purposes. I am not a big fan of the tablets as you can probably tell. Last year, I had absolutely no trouble with technology because I used a personal laptop that did not have the complications the tablets have, and this made class much easier.

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