Friday, September 21, 2007

Operating System Debate

by Martha Thibodeau

Here I am at the Leadership Meeting for the High School deployment of the Maine Learning Technology Initiative. Although I should have expected it, I was surprised at the fervor with which one person broached the PC vs. Mac OS divide. Although Doug Snow tried to be diplomatic, the rest of the room lit up with tension.

Several folks talked about the fact that this is "not about the technology." Other ideas:

*Leadership will play an intregal role in setting the tone for faculty and students.
*Jigsawing the applications is a good way to introduce the different applications to staff.
*Mechanics don't use mac or windows.
*Our teachers are in such a flux now going between windows and linux that it's a good time to throw other stuff at them, too.
*There will always be Mac bigots and PC bigots.
*We have to model the ability to change.
*The students will not have a problem with the platform.
*I wish people would get over that.

For myself, I started out as a PC person, in college, doing programming. Then I started working at Lawrence, and through the help of Brian Barrows, I learned about Macs. To be honest, I am bi-platform. I will use whatever I have on hand. If I want to make a movie...I will only use my mac. Although I would rather use iWeb, now that I've discovered it, I can manage with DreamWeaver on my PC. If I want to do anything else, it doesn't really matter to me, I can adapt to the machine in front of me.

Isn't that what we really want our students to be able to do...adapt?

1 comment:

George Crawford said...

The platform wars have been around for years. Being a "MacHead", I have learned to appreciate PCs for some things but find that Macs usually work better out of the box for wireless for example.
The issue boils down to being sure that our students and teachers receive the skills that they need to learn how to do a ask and adapt with the tool.
In doing something such as word processing, I can use Microsoft Word, NeoOffice and OpenOffice, or my favorite Mariner Write on my Mac. My skills can be tranferred from one proogram to the other.
It is the same with operating systems. I prefer Macs, but will use Windows machines, and I have become comfortable and impressed with Ubuntu after attending FOSSED this summer. I have learned to be adaptable.
This also applies to students, Students seem to have no trouble going from Mac, to PCs, to Linux computers. The skills transfer from one to the other. The technology and interface will change.
I remember Apple IIs and AppleWorks for the IIe and Bank Street Writer and using them with kids. I remember the free Word Processor of FredWriter from the early 1990s. We have come a long way since then.
Today's students will grow up with their own equivalents of Windows 3.1 and Windows 95 and the Classic Mac OS. They will adjust because of adapting their skills.
In 2015, Somebody will look at interface of Microsoft Office 2003 and ask how people managed the interface before the changes in Office 2007. Or maybe we will all be running Linux with a voice interface! Well the future is here. Beam me up Scotty! I still have to adapt my old skills in it though!!!