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Students react to censorship of the new devices

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1 to 1 technology

Lev Shuster, Copy Editor

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Over 1,100 devices have been rolled out over the course of only 4 days to sehome students. Priced at $859 for a single device from HP’s online store. While the roll-out has been impressively smooth, many students still have faced challenges and unanswered questions about these new devices.
The HP ProBook x360 11 G2 EE has had many challenges and advantages compared to past equipment used at Sehome. One change that falls into both of those categories is the tougher policy against phones, largely enabled by the new devices. Many teachers hoped the two cameras on the new devices would phase out the demand for smart phone camera use in class, however students and teachers have found the 1080p sensors’ abilities to be insufficient. Emily Dutton (9) observed that “[Almost] none of my teachers are using it… two of my classes are.” Nathan Uhlhorn (12) when asked what he thought of how teachers are using the new devices said, “I have been in positions where we’re working on papers when it would be 3-4x faster for some people to work on their computer.” Other students have raised concerns about privacy on their new devices. Students’ parents and teachers can see a complete search history and live updated feeds of students displays.
To police the use of these new devices the school district has instituted two programs. ApParent, parents access point into their students’ new devices. And Rocket by Light Speed Systems, a web filter specifically designed for schools. ApParent is the product of a Bellevue company that, in addition to providing tools for teachers, allows parents to remotely disable devices for set times, view the screens of their children, view search history, and more. The company has been providing similar solutions for the past 6 years but the product Sehome uses is still in the beta phase. One advantage Palmer points out, is “because they [AssistX] are relatively local they work closely with local districts for feedback on their products and they respond quickly to end user needs.” After limited testing (2 phones from different manufacturers tested 1 week apart on different networks and versions of android) The Rising Tide found that the integrated OneNote features on ApParents’ mobile app was not functioning. Whether the school district has yet to set up this particular feature, bad luck on the testers end, or a future function that will work when this product leaves its beta phase. Light Speed, the web blocker, is one of the most distinct changes that have come with the new devices. A freshman who wished not to use their name said, “I find a lot of the blocking a bit counterproductive honestly. There is always going to be a way around their blocking… meanwhile they are blocking many websites that teachers could use too.” Other issues have been readily brought up and often quickly fixed. Thanks to the reporting infrastructure, both students and staff can petition to unblock sites including specific YouTube videos. Some students feel the roll-out of these features have diluted the usefulness of the new devices. Jordan Verkh-Haskell (11) said “This entire thing was it was a fantastic idea and horrific execution.”
To assist in the roll-out and upkeep of these devices, the Student Help desk class has been created. Manned by Matthew Boushey, Sehomes’ Educational Technology Coach, and students during the school day. Students who staff the desk also mark their computer with yellow tags allowing students and staff to know who in their class has been trained to assist and trouble-shooting. The help desk is a resource both for learning and fixing. According to Uhlhorn, a member of The Student Help Desk, “If you have any problems with the computer, both hardware… [or] you don’t know how to do stuff we are there to help… during 1st, 2nd, 5th and 6th period.” He later notes that “The help desk is doing calls… so we can go out and help teachers in classrooms [effectively use these new resources].”

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