Updates mark new school year

In an effort to update technology on the upper campus, portable laptops have been added throughout campus, while the language lab has been expanded to almost double its original size.

Computer Services has attempted to make in-class computer use more accessible to students by adding two carts of 20 tablet PCs to Munger and the Upper School Library. The laptops increase the availability of computers and give teachers more flexibility during their classes. The laptops will serve as a “pilot program,” which plans for tablet PCs for all students in the ’09-’10 school year, Director of Computer Services David Ruben said. Wireless networks have also been installed in the library, Seaver, Munger and Chalmers buildings to ensure internet access for the library tablets. The library tablet PCs will be available for students to check out during the school day for on-campus use.

The laptops have touch-sensitive and writable screens and are located in portable carts to allow classes to work on computers without the hassle of relocating to a computer lab.

While plans for student tablets in 2009 are not final, Ruben feels that the carts will give teachers and students a feel for how they would be used in class. As part of a computer services upgrade, which takes place every four years, over 200 lab computers throughout the pper school campus have been added, Narciso Santiago of Computer Services said. 

As a result of the expansion of the language lab, there are now a total of 35 language lab computers. These allow for audio exercises and communication with other students as well as with the teacher. These computers can switch between the language lab program and regular programs. An additional teacher station was also included in the update, permitting two language classes to work simultaneously. The teacher stations control all language lab computers and have the option of listening in on student conversations.

Foreign Language Department Head Javier Zaragoza believes the expansion will give “students more space to focus without noise and crowding.” [The tech lab renovation] will ease crowding, noise, visual and auditory distractions” Zaragoza said.

With shelves dating back to years before the merger of Harvard School for Boys and Westlake School for Girls, Bookstore Manager Irma Hernandez and Bookstore Associate Allie Costa decided that it was time to remodel. 

The remodeling occurred over the summer and consisted mainly of the replacement of the old large shelves.  According to Costa and Hernandez, the three shorter ones are more practical and create a spacious atmosphere.  Due to new arrangements, supplies are more accessible.
In previous years the visible shelves held class books and texts.  As part of the remodeling, the books have been placed in the back of the store upon the recycled large shelves, and a variety of supplies fill the new shelves.

Hernandez and Costa expect that the student-friendly layout will create a greater turnover. 
Hernandez explained that it was illogical to have class books displayed in the front because when a student comes to the bookstore intending to buy a book for a particular class, the student is already fully aware of the book that he requires; therefore, the book does not need to be in eyesight. 
Costa said that purchases of miscellaneous supplies are often spontaneous.

“When a student sees something, he wants it,” she said.
An additional benefit of the new shelves is the rolling tires, which will enable the bookstore to showcase sale items much more easily than it had in the past.