Jon and James Dombro are worried that District 207 students might not be able to study next year if the Internet goes down. Citing the fact that the Internet was down, or had interruptions, at Maine South High School four days last week and was down again Monday, they said this was a real concern.
James, a sophomore at Maine South, and his father Jon Dombro addressed District 207 board members at their meeting Monday.
Earlier: District 207 replacing texts with Chromebooks
When Internet service failed last week and this week, the Chromebooks would have been rendered useless, James Dombro said.
Devices need Internet, and Internet has been down
"Right now the Internet (at Maine South) can’t seem to support the devices," said James Dombro, referring to the interruptions in Internet service. "Is this school ready to handle the traffic Chromebooks would require?"
District 207's Chief Technology Officer Henry Thiele responded that the district normally enjoys 99.9 percent Internet uptime (i.e., time when the Internet is working properly) since 2008.
"Last week from Tuesday until Friday we were hit by a DDOS attack which made Internet access slow and unreliable (but not completely down)," Thiele wrote in an email. "To correct this our network team worked with outside consultants to identify a combination of hardware and software changes to prevent these and future attacks."
Related: See a Q&A with Dr. Thiele on why D207 chose Chromebooks
On Monday, construction crews cut a major fiber connection, resulting in loss of service to much of the Northwest suburbs, he said.
Some prefer iPads
James Dombro, the student, added that he and other students wish the school district would choose to use iPads instead. A textbook could be stored on an iPad, enabling the student to read the book without an Internet connection, he explained.
However, Thiele responded that the Chromebooks do store 16 GB of data, about the same as an iPad.
Jon Dombro told board members there was a technology gap between Park Ridge-Niles School District 64, where he still has one child in attendance, and District 207. He said he invested in Apple products to make his family a Mac household for District 64, and now they would be asked to spend more money on another device when the kids got to District 207.
District Superintendent Ken Wallace responded that District 207 draws students from three large elementary districts, including Des Plaines School District 62 and East Maine Elementary District 63 in Des Plaines, Niles, Morton Grove, Glenview and Park Ridge, and that those districts may have different technology uses or preferences.
Could students use the D207 platform but their own device?
Jon Dombro also said that during a meeting with Thiele, he understood students would be allowed to access the D207 platform on any device, but now learned that is not the case, and all freshmen and sophomores will be required to purchase ChromeBooks from the district.
The district had
Dombro urged the district to have a platform for learning, but not require a specific device.
Wallace responded the district would discuss the concerns, and Dombro said he would try to meet with Wallace and Thiele this week.
"Most of the parents do not realize what they are walking into," Dombro said in an interview after the board meeting.
"If the Internet is down and they're trying to teach with this device, they'd be looking at a blank screen--and each other."
He also wondered how students would study if their parents could not afford Internet service at their homes.