Think of the school’s laptops as student bus riders. Riding the school bus becomes a familiar, yet redundant process for many students after a given amount of time. Eventually, riders may begin to get out of control, calling for necessary changes to restore order within the bus.

iLearn specialist Travis Harder helps senior Travis Beal upgrade to the Adobe Flash version.

iLearn specialist Travis Harder helps senior Travis Beal upgrade to the Adobe Flash version.

Currently, a similar concept holds true for laptops around Pattonville. Rather in the hands of a teacher or student, all MacBook Airs provided by the high school need to upgrade Adobe Flash to the version in order for certain interactive websites and applications to function properly.

“Adobe Flash is a huge pain because it doesn’t always play well with other software,” said iLearn administrator Travis Harder. “As one of the world’s most insecure software programs, Adobe Flash needs various updates frequently to make the computers more secure.”

While arguably related to security flaws, this update is needed for multiple browsers and documents to properly upload online. Several media browsers such as YouTube and SmugMug may have trouble presenting data as a result.

“Anything related to Flash such as online textbooks and certain homework web-based applications simply won’t work until students receive this update,” Harder explained. “A lot of websites use Flash because the system runs well when it isn’t broken or in need of updates.”

According to Harder, the MacBook Airs have the capability to recognize this update, but nearly none of them have picked it up since it became an issue this semester. Thus requiring an administrator to manually install the version in each individual computer, an update primarily focused toward multimedia improvements.

“We didn’t have issues two months ago because we didn’t need to update the software earlier, but now there’s a jigsaw puzzle of downloads [required] for each laptop,” Harder said. “My frustration is trying to service 2000 computers properly because I pride myself in making sure these computers run smoothly for the students.”

Unless a student’s computer has already undergone this update, there will be a few lingering issues with each device moving forward, mainly related to a student’s ability to be productive academically.

“The biggest problem is that the update failed to get distributed and students need it to complete certain assignments,” said senior iLearn student helper Jacob Owen. “This affects students majorly because they are unable to use any multimedia on the web and work online efficiently.”

One quick solution iLearn suggests for students is to restart the machine, log back into his or her account and test if a multimedia browser appears online. If a student is still experiencing difficulties, then the department offers to take a closer look into other updates the computer may need.

“There are so many variables behind these software updates that it’s hard to predict every scenario,” Harder said. “However, it’s usually an easy fix that only takes a few minutes, just like the oil change of a car.”

Despite the troubles behind fixing every computer, Harder appreciates how patient and cooperative students have been throughout this process. He encourages all MacBook Air carriers to get the update soon either during a break in class or shortly before or after school.

“Students need to have this tool working as well as it can,” Harder noted. “There will always be issues with the computers, but in the long run these updates should help out everyone.”

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