06 Dec A High School Repair Class Gives Student Chromebooks a Longer Shelf Life
Some schools burn valuable tech budgets on Chromebook repairs, while others tap into the skilled student body to repair broken laptops and provide real-world troubleshooting experience.
Chromebooks are ultra-thin and lightweight devices. Students are imperfect, accident-prone humans who carry backpacks filled with items that can crush and mangle a small laptop. Despite a well-planned usage policy and careful handling, students are bound to make small mistakes that put their Chromebooks in harm’s way.
Since the first Chromebook’s hit the market in 2011, these affordable devices have won over schools across the globe. Most schools report few hardware issues and mainly struggle with screen breakage rates, as students often store Chromebooks in bags that contain heavy books. Knocking an open device off of a desk is another common problem, which subjects the delicate screen to damaging impact.
Finding Smart Ways to Handle Chromebook Repairs
Schools that choose an outright purchase over a leasing arrangement often hold families responsible for insurance or repair costs. The alternative options are to train a repair staff or send devices out for repair, both of which require extra money and manpower. While parents agree to usage terms before their children can receive devices, the reality is that districts are making Chromebook programs mandatory and should consider accepting liability for inevitable accidents.
Karl Rivers, an IT professional and network manager for Bedford Borough Council in the United Kingdom, says students at the schools he services are only charged for the devices when the IT team finds signs of poor handling. Otherwise, the IT team performs in-house repairs for everyday accidents, and Rivers says Chromebook parts are so easy to swap out and replace that devices are virtually disposable.
Other schools are using the student body to build a knowledgeable tech force. At Mound Westonka High School in Minnesota, the administration launched a tech intern program that gives students hands-on experience taking Chromebooks apart and diagnosing problems. Central High School in Missouri offers a similar tech support internship, in which students perform tasks ranging from replacing broken screens to repairing defective touchpads.
In both cases, the schools were able to cut costs and boost turnaround time, so damaged Chromebooks are repaired within hours, instead of weeks. With students around to handle minor but essential tasks, such as keeping drained computers charged, the professional staff are free to teach and fix the most complex hardware issues. Most importantly, many students who previously held vague plans for the future are now discovering a viable career path in an industry that never stops growing.
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