Over the summer, Blended Learning Technologist Anthony McLaughlin and his corps of teachers assistants (TAs) were busy upgrading the RAHS student laptops.
“The primary issue was replacing the old mechanical hard drives, which were going on their fifth year in operation,” said McLaughlin. “It was a direct effort to keep the laptops more usable and reliable for the students.”
Hard drives, or “mechanical drives,” operate from the engraving of grooves on platters, like a CD. Activity and constant use by students took its toll. As each laptop would be used on a daily basis, the platters over time got scratched and damaged.
There was a liability issue behind the old hard drives as well. Because the mechanical drives were also out of warranty, they were non-replaceable by their manufactures.
The upgraded laptops also feature Solid State Drives (SSD’s). The SSD’s do not have the same room for error that mechanical drives have, since they do not work with disks. Another bonus is the fact that SSD’s provide a faster startup of the operating system.
“They [SSDs] startup and get into Windows very quickly,” said McLaughlin.
Because of their non-mechanical nature, the SSDs operate at a lower temperature, which helps keep the computers cooler.
“There is a lot less heat associated with these drives,” said McLaughlin.
As far as the new operating system goes, Windows 10 has been implemented.
“Windows 10 was approved by the district as a choice operating system, with Windows 7 and Windows 10 [being the two options for schools],” said McLaughlin. “I chose to upgrade to Windows 10.”
The addition of the new operating system does not change the performance of the computers too much; it was not necessarily needed for the new drives.
“The upgrade of the drives and the operating systems were mutually independent of each other,” said McLaughlin.
Some students, such as RAHS senior Eli Benevedes, have noticed a slight improvement in the startup of their computers, though they have not experienced any major change in how the computer runs.
“I mean, it’s nice for the computers and programs to start up quicker for sure,” said Benevedes, “but the actual run time performance has not seen any significant increases.”
The overall increase in performance and the cooler temperature is a step in a better direction for school technology. That is not to say there were not issues involving the distribution process of the computers to the students.
“About half of the drives were able to be installed before the first week of September,” said McLaughlin, “and the remaining 200 drives arrived the Friday before school started.”
This made it very challenging for them to send laptops out to every student in a timely manner.
The RAHS administration kept the students in mind while upgrading the laptops.
“My perspective is more from the goal of having the most efficient and up-to-date laptops that we are able to [provide] for our students,” said Principal Tipton.