School Should Encourage Students to Bring Their Computers

Students bring their own pencils and notebooks. Should they also bring their own computers to school? Calvin Moehlman suggests, yes.

By Calvin Moehlman

Computers have always been a cause for debate in the Rapid City Area Schools. There are frequent gripes about the quality and quantity of computers available or whether certain features should be allowed, such as custom desktop backgrounds. What if there was a solution to computer problems such as these that would save the school money? What if the school district adopted a policy that enables and encourages students to bring personal computers? A policy like this would solve a multitude of the school district’s problems.

A common problem for students at Central High School who use the library is printing time. If one wishes to print something in the library they must first log on to one of the school’s provided systems, then download the information for the library computer, and finally print their desired material. While this process sounds mundane, due to the speed the computers log in to the school server and the load time for Internet Explorer (which is currently the only browser that can access the information for the printer), this process can take upwards of 20 minutes. The time this process takes could be greatly reduced if students were allowed to bring their own systems, where they can simply unlock their computer. Additionally, the information for printers could be downloaded once, then stored.

Allowing students to use their own computers instead of the ones provided also easily enables students to use programs they prefer. Currently, the computers in our area come with Internet Explorer, Microsoft Edge, and Mozilla Firefox; however, some students may be more accustomed to Google Chrome, Opera, or Safari. If a student was encouraged to bring their own computer to school, that student would be able to use the browser they like without having to install additional software onto a school system. In turn, the school district would feel more comfortable because alien software would not be put on its systems, and the student would feel more comfortable using programs they are familiar with.

Students have found, and will continue to find, clever ways to work around the restrictions of the school server.

One could argue that being comfortable with certain programs could be another issue entirely, because students are notoriously comfortable with a very specific type of program: Games. Yes, it would make it easier for that student to have games on that computer that would distract the student from their work; but such an argument is a disservice to the will of a distracted student. A while back on the school’s shared files, there was a lonely file called “The Horizon Modding Tool.” This file contained a plethora of games that could be played on any school computer. Students have found, and will continue to find, clever ways to work around the restrictions of the school server. Encouraging students to bring their own computers may initially be a distraction, but in the long run it could help them learn how to remain focused while using a computer with readily available distractions, which is a common obstacle for the current generation.

Another issue that a policy like this could address is a growing funding problem within the district. Encouraging students to use their own computers could help reduce the school’s budget in two ways. First, the schools would not need to provide as many computers for students as they currently do. As an added bonus, this could decrease the printing budget as students could use electronic devices to read notes that teachers provide online instead of printing them.

There has always been a little bit of a “war” within the departments over which teacher will be able to use the computer cart.

But what about the students that cannot afford a personal computer? It is important to remember that it would not be required for a student to bring their own computer, it would simply be both allowed and encouraged. The school district would still have to supply some computers for students. If the schools continued to supply a few computers, another issue could potentially be solved. There has always been a little bit of a “war” within the departments over which teacher will be able to use the computer cart. After all, the computer cart only has enough computers for approximately one class. If students were encouraged to use their own computers, it could increase the number of ready computers, therefore allowing more than one class to do online computer projects at a time, while also saving money.

Computers, for as many problems that their use creates, are a useful tool in modern education. If the aim of a school truly is to prepare its students for the world, then it should teach its students how to utilize the tools of the modern age. Adapting a policy that allows and encourages students to bring and use their personal computers would be a logical next step for our schools.

Photo: Pack & Smooch 11″ MacBook Air Sleeve on Flickr by Ken Wilson