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Lessons Learned From Repairing Chromebooks #EdTech

Image result for Broken Chromebook

Here are some lessons/tips and tricks I have learned throughout handling chromebook repairs in my district for the past 5 years.

Background

This is our first year with 1:1, although we have had Chromebooks in our District since 2013. During that time, we have handled all damage repairs in house at our school. With the implementation of the 1:1 program, we have over 1,700 chromebooks assigned to our students and staff. In 2017, we implemented a student help desk that assists with chromebook repairs. We have 3 different models of chromebooks, Samsung XE303Cs, EduGear R4, and Lenovo N22. Our teachers each have a HP 14 G3 Chromebook.

1. Don't throw anything out

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3 or 4 years of collecting chromebook parts has substantially reduced the amount of parts I have had to order. In turn, this has reduced the cost of repairing devices. Over the summer, when I was repairing chromebooks, many parts were salvaged from other chromebooks that were too far gone to repair or were beyond repair. This also helps with my next tip...

2. Always keep parts in stock

There have been a few times where parts took more than 2 months to arrive due to back order or some other reason. It is best not to wait until you run out of parts to order the next batch. If you are saving devices that are to be parted out, try separating the parts for easier access.

We do a little of both, we have some devices that are kept completely in tact until we need something off of them. We also have parts that we have already salvaged for ease of access later.

3. Weigh the costs and benefits

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Does a device need to be repaired or replaced?

We have Samsung XE303C chromebooks (the original and first Samsung chromebook released). Now that they are approaching 4 and 5 years old, it is time to decide whether the device should be repaired or replaced. If a new logic board costs $125 and may last another year or so and a new device costs $200 and could last 3 years or so, it may be time to junk the old device/use it for parts, and replace it with a device that will last longer. (Remember my first tip, don't throw anything out!)

When ordering parts, always check multiple sources for pricing. Contact vendors to see if they have special pricing for schools.

4. Have a student help desk

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I cannot stress this point enough, for your own sanity and for efficient device repairs, train some students to assist with repairs and troubleshooting devices. This has two effects, students get real life experience while learning skills essential to many jobs, not just those limited to tech. This skills include, but are not limited to, communicating effectively in a team environment, time management, task completion, self-accountability, and more...

Example Student Help Desks
https://sites.google.com/a/d219.org/aal-help-desk/
https://bhshelpdesk.com/


5. Promote Safe Handling of Devices

This seems a bit obvious, but can sometimes can be overlooked. Some tend to think that safety is common knowledge. In my experience, common knowledge needs to be taught. Model and enforce good care of chromebooks in your district, from administrators and faculty to technology admins. Realize that safety is everyone's responsibility, if you see a problem, report it/fix it. Also, post safe handling cues (such as posters) around the school, in hallways and classrooms to emphasize this on a daily basis.

Great School Created Resource: https://sites.google.com/a/bridgeportps.net/google-apps-and-chromebooks/care-and-handling

6. Don't Be Afraid to Try Repairing Devices Yourself & Watch your Warranty

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Many devices come with a warranty for device repair due to faulty hardware or defective parts. In this case, make sure you do NOT attempt to repair these devices until you have checked to see if the manufacturer's warranty applies to the repair.

If warranty does not apply, try it out and see what happens. My first device repair was a broken screen on a Samsung XE303C, just like the one pictured at the top. My curriculum and technology director brought it to me and asked if I could figure out how to fix it. I was a Social Studies teacher at the time and had never attempted to hardware repair a chromebook before, but I accepted the challenge.

I did a quick google search and found a video showing step-by-step how to replace the screen and where to order a replacement screen from. I ordered two screens and tried it out. My first attempt was not that good, but it worked. The more screens I replaced (and there have been many), the better I got at it. Later, I tried fixing a broken keyboard, replacing the battery, replacing the power jack, the screen bezel, and just recently, I attempted to remove and solder a new headphone jack to the logic board. With some help from my colleague, it worked!


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