Friday, May 15, 2009

Mac vs. PC

John Hodgman as PC and Justin Long as MacImage via Wikipedia

We all know this debate will continue for years upon years. Should I purchase a Mac? Should I purchase a PC? PCs are less expensive - does that mean Macs are better devices? Macs are much more intuitive and user friendly - does that mean PCs are difficult to use?

For years our district was strictly PC. Macs were never considered for purchase - teacher or student stations. Our approach was from a management standpoint and simply having another platform to maintain. I also believe our fear of something new and unfamiliar kept the Macs out of the district.

Then something happened...we became partners in the Kentucky Dataseam Project and Macs had made their way into our district. We were unsure at first - where do we place them? How do we support them? Will anyone use them? Our first experiment was to place them across the schools and put some in common locations and others in the classroom. The ones placed in common locations had some success - art classrooms, TV studios, etc. However, the ones placed in classrooms (1-2 per classroom) were not that successful. We came to the conclusion that the "fear of something new" was the main reason for them not being utilized.

This summer we are going to pull back those not being utilized in classrooms and replace with a PC. However, we have a long line for the ones we are pulling back, in addition to some other machines we plan to receive as a part of a grant opportunity. The demand for these Macs in certain areas has grown exponentially. Our creative, journalism, arts and broadcasting areas have all seen the value that the Mac and its accompanying software provides to their program. We have seen first hand the quality products that their students are able to turn out because of these devices.

Moving forward we plan to continue the purchase of Macs for special programs / areas along with providing the necessary training so those teachers can effectively implement the devices into their curriculum. We also plan to continue the training of one of our technicians to eventually become an Apple Engineer.

So are we moving to a complete Mac environment? No. We have over 2,500 computers in our current environment and the Macs currently comprise less than 1%. But we are evolving. We are seeing the value in these devices in our classrooms and for our teachers and students. In my mind, the perfect environment is a blended one. The users who prefer and can show value for the Macs in their classrooms should have that opportunity. The users who prefer PCs and have no need for the video editing, music apps, etc. that most Mac users love - will stay with their PCs. To me - the most important thing is we provide our users the opportunity to use the technology that best fits their classroom.

What environments are you currently using? Do you see the value in multiple platforms? For technical reasons do you prefer a single platform?


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