Revolutionizing education, one new MacBook at a time


Nathan Mueller

The 2020 M1 MacBooks which were received by students at the beginning of the 2021-2022 school year.

     Fast, reliable, sleek, and most importantly… the new computer smell. The 2020 M1 MacBook Airs are one small step for students and one giant leap for education. 

     Technology develops a new way of life for many people, and Highlands High School embraced these changes with open arms. In 2014, students received the district’s first MacBook Airs.

     In 2021 they finally got an upgrade. 

     When trying to navigate the new MacBook Airs, knowing what they are and how they work will help teachers, and students use these new tools to the fullest extent.

A Revolutionary New Device

     Highland’s Library Media Specialist Jason Gay commented on the Mac’s use of Apple’s groundbreaking new M1 Processor. 

     “People will notice a major speed difference in the processing speed in switching between applications and multitasking.” 

     Unlike Intel or AMD’s flagship processors, the new chip uses 5nm processors, which allows Apple to cram more processing power into a more compact space. 

     Alongside the groundbreaking speed, the processor features 8 cores, meaning it can multitask better than other companies’ $300 processors.

     While the price of the chip is unknown individually, in comparison to the $900 price of the Macs students and teachers can rest assured that it is a serious bang for the buck. 

     The idea that these new Macs outshine the old ones is astoundingly accurate.

     Sophomore Griffin Sanders gave his opinion when asked to compare the new and old Macbooks.

     “Just overall better.” 

Creativity in Education

     The main purpose of any technology brought into the district is to enhance the efficiency of education for teachers and students. Hopefully, the new MacBooks are going to boost that for the district.

     Digital Learning Coach Brian Mercer shined a light on the upsides of the new devices.

     “I’m glad that the district decided to stay with the MacBooks for all of the creator applications

     Programs like Garageband, iMovie, and even Quicktime Player have improved over the years. Apple includes all of these programs pre-installed on the devices.

     Gay seemed excited about what students will be able to create with the tools provided by the district.

     “The more we can give you to show that, demonstrate, that’s gonna be the cool part, the wow factor, fundamentally.”

     Mercer stressed the importance of staying with MacBooks because of that platform.

     “I don’t know any other computer that has as much as the Macbook.”

     The platform provided by Apple on macOS with the creator applications, powerful devices, and most importantly, the ability to connect teachers and students will allow the district to elevate the quality of work produced by the students, and the effectiveness of the lessons created by educators.

The Trials of The Tech Department

     Upgrading the devices not only built upon students’ ability to create but reduced the workload of the technology department. The previous fleet of computers was from 2016. 

     Mercer acknowledged that it was time.

     “The computers we had been using were really old, we got everything out of them that we could get”

     With an older fleet of computers repairs and maintenance are frequent, and a giant responsibility on our technology department, a responsibility Gay expressed that he is happy to say goodbye to.

     “I’m excited that we no longer have to do as many repairs as we used to, maintaining an older fleet is  hard on our technology department, our help desk, and our school.”

     The technology department has been knee-deep in work for years, especially this year when the computers didn’t come in at a reasonable time. 

     Mercer discussed what it was like behind the scenes.

     “Everything the technology department has done to make that happen is incredibly fast and they were working late hours to do it.”

     The national silicon shortage has caused backups with orders of any product that uses a microchip. 

     That along with the fact that KDE (Kentucky Department of Education) controls the contracts between schools and companies like Apple, and they couldn’t get a contract. The district had to purchase the devices directly from Apple, bypassing the KDE, and that took time.

     With all of the extra work, they had to put into the Macs this year Mercer stated.

     “What I would like them to hear is that we got the computers out and it took a long time, now we’re fleshing through, [and] we need to get other things worked out.”

MacBook Maintenance 

     Because of the strain on the technology department, students must go the extra mile to keep their devices safe and running smoothly, as not to increase the workload of an already overworked department. 

     Some easy ways to do that are restarting your computer nightly, buying a case, and closing the lid while walking. 

     Gay gave an excellent tip concerning liquids.

     “Liquids and MacBooks just don’t mix, [as] they’re not meant to be around water so I encourage kids to get something with a seal around it”

     He also stressed the importance of making good decisions online.

     “People need to be very mindful of their actions of what they do online, your digital footprint follows you.”

     While the Macs may have a few small inconveniences such as the USB ports being replaced with USB C ports, or the smaller hard drive, the fixes for these are relatively simple.

     You can find specific adapters for the port you want on websites such as Amazon, and you can use cloud storage to save space, or just back up your files.

     There is a sense of excitement in the classrooms and hallways of Highlands High School regarding the new computers. Students are excited to get work done more efficiently and collaborate with their classmates. 

     The upgrade to the revolutionary M1 Macbook Air is just another example of how the Fort Thomas Independent School District is rich in tradition, yet focused on the future.

     For instructions and an introduction to the new Macbooks, go here.