Computers labs to be converted to classrooms, replaced by Chromebooks

Previously, rooms 158 and 276 have been areas at school for teachers and students to access computers during class time, with teachers often pulling students out of their regular classrooms to utilize the tech-focused spaces. However, with an increasing student population, Redwood is in need of more classroom space. To accommodate the growth, both computer labs have been closed since Feb. 28 and are in the process of being converted into classrooms for the next school year.

Although access to the computers in 158 and 276 will no longer be available, the Redwood Foundation will be helping to purchase more Chromebook carts for in-class use by students and teachers, according to Assistant Principal Saum Zargar.

Students using Chromebooks as an alternative to going to the computer lab.

Students using Chromebooks as an alternative to going to the computer lab.

“Chromebook carts have primarily been purchased for teachers by our generous Redwood Foundation. All of that has led to those labs not being used much; that is the primary reason. The model of teachers grabbing their students escorting them to a lab to do something and bring them back to the classroom is an older model,” Zargar said. 

The administration made the decision to convert the labs, but not without the input of the departments who most frequently used them. According to Zargar, the World Language department utilized the labs more than other departments. Due to this, their consultation was sought out before finalizing the closure.

“I sent an email to the World Language teachers letting them know we were thinking of converting lab 158, and if anyone had any objections. They said no, because the things happening in 158 can be done with a Chromebook cart,” Zargar said.

Both Zargar and Sondheim have ensured that the decision to close the labs was communicated to teachers and made only with their approval. It is still undecided on which teachers from which departments will take over labs 158 and 276, but in the meantime Chromebooks are already being delivered to various classrooms.

According to AP Spanish and English Language Development teacher Debbie McCrea, transferring from desktop computers to Chromebooks is a positive change for the community and for her classes especially.

Lab 158 remains closed until Administration decides which teachers will be taking over.

Lab 158 remains closed until Administration decides which teachers will be taking
over.

“I think the Chromebooks make a lot of sense. The world is changing and everyone has laptops and technology and things are a lot faster than they used to be. The way I use [Chromebooks] a lot in the class is that they are on the desk and maybe you open them, and use them for some activities, but not for all. It’s more of a complement to [students’] learning,” McCrea said.

While McCrea is new to having Chromebooks, Mike Kelemen, who teaches economics, government and A.P. U.S. History, has utilized a permanent Chromebook cart in his room for two years now, and finds having a computer cart to be very efficient.

“It should have even been done a year or two ago, because the portable buildings are really expensive and the school is growing. It’s cheaper to buy Chromebooks than it is to buy portables. It makes more sense to use the [computer lab] space for classrooms,” Kelemen said.

Kelemen has seen technology change at Redwood throughout his 22 years of teaching, and supports the idea of Chromebooks becoming the primary use of technology for students.

Even though computers have been removed from computer labs, students can still use desktops in the library.

Even though computers have been removed from computer labs, students can still use desktops in the library.

“Having Chromebooks is super convenient, and the next level in technology is the Chromebooks. Price-wise they make sense,” Kelemen said.

According to Zargar, the old computers in the labs will be recycled in an environmentally friendly fashion so that none of the material will be wasted.

“The computers in the computer labs are really old so they are going to be E-wasted. We work with our technology department to make sure they are properly disposed,” Zargar said.

Despite the loss of two specific rooms dedicated to housing desktop computers, students can easily access computers both at the library and in their classrooms with Chromebook carts.

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