Longing for Labs


Sharada Saraf, Reporter

It is 11 o’clock in the evening. You just finished your rough draft for your CRP, but of course, your printer stops working. You clearly remember your English teacher insisting on a hard copy, so emailing your teacher the paper is out of the question.

Frustrated, you decide to go early to school tomorrow to print out your beloved paper from one of the trusty computer labs. Panting, you arrive to school at 7:30 in the morning. You race to room 14 only the find that it is…closed. You fall to your knees, tears streaming down your cheeks. Your hands lie limp on the floor, useless in their struggle to open the locked door.

Okay, maybe that is a bit of an over exaggeration. On the surface, this reaction may seem a little unreasonable because of the new iPad program implemented this year. The program has drastically decreased the need for computer labs and their printers because of our school’s move to become paperless. However, the change in computer lab openings has impacted Pres girls more than you might think.

For example, many English teachers still require hard copies for CRPs. English teacher Marcy Ray says that print outs of final CRPs are more formal and easier to grade than electronic copies. She notes that spending hours on the computer grading papers strains her eyes and reading paper copies gives her a mental map of the entire paper, allowing her to relate different parts of the paper to each other.

Other teachers require that students print out their homework, making the search for an open lab after school lab critical for students to manage their time well. However, the search often ends in frustration.

Junior Josephine Chu says, “Fewer computer labs actually have affected my school life. After school I’ll be looking to find computer labs in order to print out my homework or my notes, but room 101 closes after school and room 14 is locked because there’s no teacher! It kinda stinks.”

Vice Principal of Academics Julie Edson, who is in charge of Presentation’s technology program, said in an email that the open times for the labs have not changed from last year and that room 14 is open from 7:45 a.m. to 5 p.m. while room 101 is open from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. every day. However, this is simply not true – the room 14 lab is locked up nearly every B day from 12:30-3 p.m. (after which the assigned teacher arrives and provides coverage from 3-5 p.m.) Moreover, the available hours in room 101 vary with the schedules of the teachers who use that room. If they have a meeting or appointment, the lab will often close because there is no supervision in there.

Having room 14 open only from 3-5 p.m. every day becomes problematic for students hoping to work during collaboration on B days. Hopefully, communication will improve over the next semester between teachers and the technology department so that the department can understand how many teachers require that assignments get printed and provide coverage for lab times accordingly.

But access to printers is only half the problem. Coupled with it is the question of whether iPads can really replace computers. While there has been a lesser need for computer labs with the implementation of the iPad program and lab times have been more flexible in the midst of CRP season, some Pres girls prefer working on computers for their homework rather than their iPads. Computers allow students to multitask and use Google Drive better. Also, while some may type at the speed of light on the onscreen keyboard, others curse and backspace their many typos and long for the tangible keyboards provided by computers.

In spite of the complaints, some have a more positive outlook on shorter computer lab times. Sophomore Sanjana Garg says, “Last year, the computer lab was kind of like my and my friends’ place to do homework. We wouldn’t use the computers; we would just do homework. When the lab started closing earlier and not opening, we had to migrate to the library and it kind of sucked because we couldn’t talk. On the bright side, I got more homework done and slept a little earlier!”

For students who still have teachers who require hard copies for papers and assignments, this year’s sporadic lab times and the closure of Room 1 have unfortunately become problematic. The obvious lack of communication between teachers, the technology department, the administration, and most importantly, the students, will cause ongoing frustration unless it is addressed.

The iPad program has been an excellent addition to our school and has enhanced the learning experience, but the corresponding assumption that students do not need labs anymore is simply false. Presentation is a school which values student life and opinion, and with technology becoming a major part of student life, communication is integral for the benefit of all.