The Harbinger Online

Broken Bluecoat

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The early 2000s called, they want their internet back.

The past month in the Shawnee Mission School District high schools, Blue Coat the system that provides security to the district-issued MacBooks has been malfunctioning and causing internet connection issues.

If you are one of the lucky few whose computer still works on the school Wi-Fi, congratulations – you are in the 1.4 percent [from a poll of 436 East students]. I’m surprised that we even had responses to the poll. You won the lottery and received a pardon from the Wi-Fi gods.

The recent Blue Coat and Wi-Fi issues are causing catastrophic problems in the classroom that are inhibiting students ability to learn. A district that relies on computers for the education of its students should not be dealing with Wi-Fi issues.

When a school that maintains a fleet of 1800 MacBook computers has Wi-Fi issues, there are a lot of people affected when the Blue Coat decides to act up. Students and teachers alike have to deal with the problems. For example,  efficiency in class is hampered by the Wi-Fi problems.

The root of the problems stems from the Blue Coat system. According to assistant vice principal Britton Haney, the district uses an outside company to manage Blue Coat instead of the company that owns Blue Coat themselves. The company was not prepared for the amount of internet traffic that comes along with 9,000 SMSD high school students.

Many days I have entered classes expecting to complete a project. Sometimes, all I’m trying to do is turn in my English essay on Google Classroom, but once Google Docs starts telling me it’s reconnecting, I know there’s no hope. It’s these times when other students and I are spending hours in class unproductively; the only thing to do is try to beat your highscore on the hopping dinosaur game.

While I enjoy playing the hopping dinosaur game on Google Chrome just as much as anyone else, having to spend time at home making up work because the Blue Coat doesn’t work isn’t fun.

Out of a survey of 436 students at East, 41 percent of students said that East is too dependent on technology. 88 percent of students said that the Wi-Fi plague of the past month has added to the stress of completing weekly Conjuguemos or even finishing this story. The irony is ridiculous. There were many instance, such as in the middle of writing this sentence the Blue Coat decided to act up and I was forced to wait for it to reconnect.  

Every day I hope the Wi-Fi has returned from the grave. Each day seems promising, but my Wi-Fi never fails to leave my hopeful computer after typing only a few words on Google Docs.Everyday, I can expect the same thing: spotty Wi-Fi

Every. Single. Day.

One week without school Wi-Fi is understandable. It’s still awful and makes for an unproductive week of classes, but no school district is perfect. Two weeks is a little much; I am starting to get annoyed. Three weeks and counting is absolutely ridiculous if we are expected to use technology everyday within school. The computers should at least be able to connect to the internet.

Technology is dependent on the Wi-Fi working, and the use of technology in school is incredibly important for modern education. Unlike other generations, students are expected to be proficient with computers.

If the district chose to be more technology dependent than in the past, there needs to be stability in the Wi-Fi system. A computer without Wi-Fi is essentially useless.

Thankfully, the problem will be addressed at the beginning of the new year during winter break. The current plan is to switch to working with Cisco for the district’s internet security. Until then I guess the students of East will have to work with the current Wi-Fi situation or use that thing called paper again.


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Jet Semrick

Jet Semrick is a junior at Shawnee Mission East and is currently in his third year on Harbinger as the Online Sports Editor. Outside of journalism, Jet is an avid debater on the Kansas and national circuit. Jet is also involved in forensics, student council, cross country, tennis and enjoys volunteering. Academically Jet is pursuing a diploma in the IB program. In the little free time that he has, Jet enjoys watching movies and eating good food. He hopes to lead a ... Read Full »

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