Harvard-Westlake has a robust academic technology program.  With video projectors in every classroom, teachers use laptop computers and document cameras in class almost daily to help guide and support their instructional objectives.  The Canvas LMS, known internally as “The Hub,” and Google's G Suite for Education, in conjunction with our student laptop program, provide opportunities to engage students, build modern technology skills, and curate a digital archive of their work.  We are proud of our academic technology program and look forward to the changes that evolving and emerging technologies will bring to our students’ learning experience.

Jeff Snapp, Director of Instructional Technology
818-487-6547   jsnapp@hw.com

Student Laptop Program

Harvard-Westlake's student laptop program includes all grades 7-12.  Every student is required to bring a laptop computer to school daily.  We have prepared the following document in order to answer your questions about the program.   If you have questions about purchasing a computer, please feel free to reach out to Dave Ruben, Director of Information Technology, at (818) 487-6552 or .

What kind of computer should my child bring to school?

Harvard-Westlake makes no specific requirements regarding brand, operating system (i.e., Windows vs. Macintosh), or configuration.  The most important question to ask when selecting a computer is what your child will use it for.  Most students at Harvard-Westlake will use their computers for five primary tasks: word processing; internet research; using the School’s learning management system called ‘The Hub’ to access and post assignments and participate in online discussions; data analysis; and creating multimedia projects.  Media-rich files use much more storage and memory than word-processed documents, so more memory than the baseline is recommended.

Computers that meet the requirement Devices that do not meet the requirement
  • Any Macbook: 128GB hard drive; 10.12 (Sierra) or newer
  • Windows laptop: 4GB RAM; Windows 8 or newer
  • Microsoft Surface Pro (or similar Ultrabook)
  • iPad, iPad Pro, or iPhone
  • Android tablet (Kindle Fire, Samsung Galaxy, etc.)
  • Microsoft Surface RT
  • Smartphone (iPhone, Blackberry, Android, etc.)
  • Chromebook

Computer Requirements

  Minimum Requirements for Apple Macintosh Minimum Requirements for Windows

Operating System

Mac OS X (10.12) or newer

Windows 8 or newer

Memory (RAM)

4 GB minimum

Hard Drive

128 GB minimum.  Photos, music, and movies require more storage.

Camera & Microphone

Built in



Warranty / Maintenance
(strongly recommended)


Manufacturer’s Extended Warranty

Geek Squad, Square Trade, etc

Backup System

iCloud, Time Machine

OneDrive, Windows Backup

Google Drive (school provided), Dropbox, Carbonite, etc


  • Microsoft Office is required and will be provided by HW using student email login (details to follow)
  • Adobe Acrobat Reader
  • Adobe Flash
  • Java
  • At least two up-to-date web browsers (Explorer, Safari, Chrome, Firefox, etc.)
 Antivirus Protection Avast, AVG, ESET Avast, AVG, ESET
MS Security Essentials (comes with Windows 8 & 10)

One of the most important features is extended battery life.  Students should plan to have a machine that can work over the course of the school day, and come to school with the ability to charge their computer, should the battery run out.  The School is unable to provide power cords for all models of laptop computers, though loaners for certain models are available in the library and bookstore

How often should software be updated?

Web-based software (such as Java, Flash, Safari, and Chrome) should be updated as soon as an update is released.  Operating system updates and service packs should be downloaded and installed only at home, but also as soon as possible.  (Such updates utilize significant bandwidth and often render the computer unusable during the download.)  All software updates provide valuable and necessary security patches and are necessary which allow features to continue to operate properly.  

Do I have to buy Microsoft Office?

Students are required to have the Microsoft Office 365 software suite installed on their computers.  Harvard-Westlake School will be providing Microsoft Office 365 to students at no charge.  Instructions for downloading and installing the software will be made available prior to the start of school.

Do I have to buy a new computer?

We realize that not everyone will be bringing a brand new computer to campus. However, computers with less than the required specifications outlined in the chart above may not be able to connect to our network or run applications necessary in the classroom.  Be sure your older computer has the required capacity.

We also recommend students have a computer which meets Energy Star requirements. If you are purchasing a new computer, we recommend you purchase as much memory (RAM) and hard drive space as you can comfortably afford. 4GB of RAM should be the minimum for a new computer.  Increasing to 8 GB for extended longevity is recommended. Hard drives should have a minimum of 80 GB.  We are not suggesting that you purchase a computer with faculties beyond your needs, but to keep in mind that your child’s computing needs may change over time.

Is technical support available on campus?

Harvard-Westlake will provide students with instructions and assistance in connecting their laptops to our network, as well as try to answer some basic questions. We will also provide access to technicians who can help students with minor problems during the school day.  

However, due to staffing limitations, we are unable to provide extensive technical support for your individual computer.  Loaners will be available for students who experience problems that require their laptops to be out-of-use for an extended period of time.

As was noted above in the table, we recommend that you consider purchasing an extended warranty with your computer as a hedge against future hardware or operating system issues. This is strongly suggested if the standard warranty period is one year or less for the computer you own or purchase.

How can students protect their computing device from theft or damage?

We believe students should have sturdy protective cases, and we recommend that students lock computers in their lockers when not using them.  We also encourage students to regularly back up data to a cloud-based service (e.g., Dropbox, Google drive, etc.) or to an external storage device.  Additionally, students should have a means to back up their files and software on a regular basis.

If you have questions about purchasing a computer, please feel free to reach out to Dave Ruben, Director of Information Technology, at (818) 487-6552 or .