Understanding the iMLearning program
Christopher George, ‘Doah Contributing Writer
October 23, 2013
The MacBook Pro that students receive as part of Shenandoah University’s iMLearning program quickly becomes an integral part of their academic and personal lives. In addition to coursework, students use their school-issued devices to store music, photos, videos, and all other sorts of personal data that many deem irreplaceable. As SU’s iMLearning Support Specialist and Help Desk Manager Don Silvius puts it, “I’ve had students tell me their ‘whole life’ is on their MacBook.”
It follows, then, that students would take care of their portable lives to the best of their abilities. Yet as anyone reading this article knows, accidents are bound to happen. Cracked screens, liquid damage, heart-stopping drops to the ground, hard drive failure, loss and theft are all the stuff of technological nightmares. “The best way to prevent damage is to be aware of where the computer is and what is near it. The two most common out of warranty issues are damage from liquids and drops,” Silvius warns, “Both can be easily avoided.”
Even students who keep their MacBooks free of bumps and bruises are courting disaster if they fail to back up their data. Silvius notes that the laptop’s hard drive is hardly foolproof: “The most common warranty-covered issue is the hard drive. When the computer is turned on, the metallic platter inside that drive spins at 5400 revolutions per minute until you turn it off or close the lid. Chances are pretty good that at some point you will have a hard drive failure.” Students who neglect their backups risk the dreaded scenario of losing their digital belongings in an instant. If these belongings include academic projects that have yet to be turned in, students will likely be willing to pay far more than the price of an external hard drive to get them back. Data is fleeting, as Silvius notes: “Once it’s gone, it’s gone.”
Luckily, for the unfortunate souls whose hard drive or laptop meets a tragic fate, not all hope is lost. As part of the iMLearning fee that students pay each semester, the MacBook is covered by an insurance plan as well as an extended warranty. “The extended warranty covers components that stop working through regular use and normal wear and tear, but does not cover physical damage through abuse or neglect,” says Silvius. If a hard drive or another part within the MacBook fails on its own, the computer may be repaired without any further cost to the student.
When physical damage is to blame, however, the insurance policy still covers a portion of the overall expense. If the MacBook is lost, stolen, or damaged to the point at which repair would cost more than the MacBook’s buyout price, students can pay a $400 deductible to have it replaced with a similar model. In milder cases, such as cracked screens or damage contained to smaller components, students should expect to pay a $300 deductible for the repairs. Though these costs may be daunting at first glance, it is best to accept the expense rather than attempt to claim a warranty issue when none exists—both the MacBook and the iPad contain mounts and sensors that will indicate any physical trauma or liquid damage, respectively.
In case of such technological tragedies, students can also be provided with a loaner computer to use until their units are back up and running. Though on-campus repairs are usually completed within a mere two to five days, a hard drive backup and a loaner device allow one’s digital routine to remain relatively unhindered by the inconvenience. Without a backup, however, even a loaner may be of little consolation. In an age in which a student’s academic lifestyle is often tethered to his or her computer, the importance of backing it up is unquestionable. “If it’s your ‘whole life,’ then it is certainly worth keeping a backup copy of,” stresses Silvius. “The Help Desk can show you how to backup your data—invest in an external hard drive and backup that data regularly.”