PC or Mac for Education?

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I received an interesting email the other day, from a subscriber who goes to University in Australia. I’m going to copy his email here for you all, and then do my best to answer his very though-provoking questions.

Hi Chris, I am one of your YouTube subscribers (B0BGE0RGE). I’ve been watching your switch from PC to Mac as your main computer. I recently made the switch from PC to Mac myself. But this email is not about individuals switching to Mac. It’s about educational institutions switching to Mac.
Currently, I’m studying IT at Uni in Queensland, Australia. Although when I look around the classroom I see half the students typing up notes on their MacBooks, everything we learn has to do specifically with Windows based machines (aka PCs). It’s been this way for the last 10-15 years at least, as far as I can remember. I learnt the Windows way of doing things all the way through primary school (elementary school in the states) and high school. I had just always accepted that that’s the way it is in schools. They teach Windows because that’s what everyone has in their homes. But nowadays this is not really the case. More people still use Windows machines than Macs. But if I can look around the classroom and see at least a dozen MacBooks, then that tells me it’s probably time to start incorporating Macs into IT education. The students are using them, and the teachers are using them. I found it amusing the other day in class that our teacher hooked his Mac up to the projector screen and used parallels to show us how to do something on Windows XP. More and more people are usingMacs. Isn’t it time for schools to make the switch too?
I’d like to hear your thoughts on this. Should schools start incorporating Macs into IT education? Do you think that with more and more people switching to Mac they are going to have to teach both the Windows way and the Mac way of doing things? Or has Microsoft got such a tight grip on many educational facilities that schools will never anything but Windows at least while Microsoft is still around? Share your thoughts.

To me, it’s not about “Mac vs PC”. It’s about teaching people how to do things a different way. People need to be helped to understand the many different ways things can be done. I would not only teach OS X and WIndows… I would introduce Linux, as well. I know schools cannot afford to update their entire infrastructure. So, why not get students involved in the curriculum, using their Mac. Students teaching and learning from each other actually tends to work better at times, than having an Instructor do it. This is the beauty of the Internet… anyone has the ability to be a teacher.

It’s very important to not be biased one way or another. As Bob mentioned in his email, it’s not just a Microsoft world. Heck, it’s not just a Mac world, either. Things have evolved. We are in the middle of history being made, as far as choices. If you aren’t presented with the opportunity to learn, how then can you be a part of it?

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93 thoughts on “PC or Mac for Education?”

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  4. For education,I would probobly say Mac is best because In my opinion its more user freindly.If the student is fairly new to computers but needs one to type up reports or do some research,then a Mac would do them just fine.However if the students wants to get involved deeper into computers then a Windows machine or a Linux would probobly do best.

  5. This is a pretty interesting and important topic, I think. Today, technology is central to everybody’s life. I don’t care who you are, you will be directly impacted by a computer, likely on a daily basis. Given that, I feel that it’s crucial that people are educated to use not just one platform and one set of software, but to learn things about all common platforms. And it’s never been easier to do that than right now due to virtualization technologies and dual-booting (or I guess you could call it tri-booting between Windows, OS X, and Linux). Unfortunately, the only legal way to run OS X is to run it on Apple hardware, so this leaves little choice for schools in terms of what hardware to buy. If schools are going to teach students to use all platforms, Macs are the way to go. Then they can put Windows on the machine, and a distro of Linux. Then you have the perfect computer for learning about all operating systems.

    Once the hardware is in place, students should be taught what the various pieces of hardware do. What’s the CPU? What’s RAM, why is it important? How does WiFi work? They also need to be taught the basics of what software does, such as what happens when they power on the computer, or when they go to visit their Facebook (ugh) page. They key is to gain a general understanding of why computers do what they do. If they can learn this, even basic information, their lives will be *so* much easier down the road. Then they need to interface with the computer. Teach them how to do something in Windows. Then show them how to do the same thing in OS X, and then in Linux. Allow them to build their preferences. Teach them the pros and cons of each operating system, and how they differ. Then, the most important aspect I think, ask them this: “What do YOU think each OS needs to do to be made BETTER than it currently is? What would make your experience using it more pleasant and productive?”

    I feel that this could invoke people to become not just computer users, but computer enthusiasts. People who understand and care about their machines are the ones who care enough to contribute to the betterment of their operating systems. And even if it doesn’t have that effect on people, they will at least walk away with valuable knowledge they just might need later on down the road. In twenty years, Microsoft may not have the market share it does today. You never know. And the more people that are prepared to face our dynamic world of technology, and who are equipped to use whatever is thrown at them, the better.

  6. I agree with what you said, but I would take it a step further. It’s certainly true that while a person trained on MS software is unlikely to have difficulty finding a job, the more a person knows–including OS X, Linux, Unix–the more likely they are to be able to make the best recommendations to whomever they work for.

    Besides, the features and interfaces you learn today will no doubt change considerably in four or five years. It’s important to learn those today, but it’s even more important to learn the theories behind the way the software works. That way, no matter the changes, an IT pro will be able to adapt to future concepts and challenges.

  7. Teach platform independence. Go cross-platform on everything.

    Use only file formats and communications protocols that are controlled by standards organizations.

    Proprietary software is okay. Holding data hostage is not.

    To All Developers out there: It’s your program, but MY data!

  8. Tim Cook’s revealed in his speech at the Goldman Sachs Technology Investment Symposium that Apple beat Dell in laptop sales in the US higher education market. “We just received word on Monday that Apple surpassed Dell as the number one supplier of portables to US higher education for 2007,” Cook claimed. And he added, “The ceiling for the Macs is nowhere in sight. Even if the market itself isn’t growing, for us, switching Windows users is an enormous opportunity.”

    There is momentum there…

  9. I agree differnt types of OSs should be taught in schools .How else are the children suppose to figgure out what witch OS is the one or ones for them.If introduced early they are more likely to become involved the the tech industry.Unlike myself I never used a computer till my early thirtys.

  10. Dear,
    Who ever that may read this.
    Mac’s and Pc’s are amoung the type computer brands for the public and for higher levels. But all most outt of every 10 people lets say only 1 of those 10 is using a mac. The reason for that is mostly because pc’s are more user friendly and are fast to learn with for a person that never had a computer before. Really there is no better computer for the world, what can only be that the type of thing that you may be using the computer for. Lets say that you like to work on alot of picture or music then you would want to go with a mac but if you where to lets say you really just go on the computer to check emails and play music and never had used a computer before then your beest choice is to get a user friendly pc.

  11. My elementary school has a fully Windows based system as of now. During the summer they plan to upgrade computer lab #1 with all new computers. I would hate to see them get Vista on all of the computers, due to the fact I don’t belive it is ready for the school system. I belive it would be cool for them to add Macs in at least one of the labs. Although I will not be at the school next year. (Going to high school.) I think it would be cool for my sister to get to experince the Mac and OS X.

  12. I have noticed at the elementary school that I work at that students know more and more about Macs and Apple. I think a lot of it has to do with iPods and the commercials. They all ask about the iPhone and the MacBook Air. We are lucky to have mostly OS X with a few windows computers and a few linux machines. Students love Comic Life, iMovie, video chatting with iChat, and Photo Booth. These programs really help that think creatively at a young age.

  13. This topic is something that comes very close to me because I am currently going to a school which has a laptop program. Unfortunately they are dropping that program from the school but from the start of the program all the computers that they gave out were all IBM laptops. This was until the last year of the program when they decided to give students a choice between the mac and and the IBM’s this was a step in the right direction allowing people to choose which computer they wanted and not restricting them. The sad news is that the school has decided to completely remove the laptop program and switch to carts in the rooms. I don’t know how that will unfold because I will not be at the school but multi-platform learning is very important especially in a technology based class.

  14. I would say definitely Mac for elementary education. Growing up, my school used Macs exclusively and they were my first exposure to computers in life. At the time, we did not have a computer at home and I can say that even though the Macs of the time do not compare to today’s, it was an overall good experience. Today’s Macs are ideal for education simply because of their ease of use and the fact that are generally not attacked by virus, malware, and spyware. This makes them a perfect choice for both the students and the IT department.

  15. Chris,
    When I enrolled in college the college’s IT department blitzed parents with what i call propaganda telling parents that macs were not compatible and not supported on the wireless network here, and that the only way to successfully connect was to use the Dell laptops sold in conjunction with the school. I attempted to convince my mother that macs would have no problem on the network, but alas i am stuck with this dell laptop.
    I wish I had a mac for so many reasons. Professors around here are starting to move away from the standard papers and boring things that can be easily done on a Windows PC. I have had to create too movies or alternative projects this year and being stuck with things like Windows Movie maker *shudders*,they come out terrible.
    Also a local school system gave all the students take home macbooks, and I was thrilled to see this because now many more people will see that macs aren’t want they use. Even my mom is now regretting being swindled into buying the dell

  16. I am currently a high school student and am exposed to only Windows based PCs at my school. About 3 years ago my school replaced all their old machines with Dells and doing as also sacrificed the Mac lab which was used for video editing. The reason for this decision as Chris said was politics. In the eyes of the school board they though if we have all Dells why not replace the Macs, which were in need of upgrading, with Dells, not caring about what was best for the particular task.

    I myself am a Windows user who will be switching to a MacBook Pro in the upcoming months. I will admit that my first experience on a Mac was in the particular lab was stated before and it was not a good one. However now with new Macs i have had much better experiences.

    In conclusion, students should be exposed to a diverse array of technology and the different choices they can make. Schools try to teach a wide assortment of subjects to ensure students have a well-rounded education. The same should be true for technology.

    P.S. Yes, they do use linux for the networking classes.

    -bGeorge

  17. I think this is an interesting topic. “Mac or PC?” Looking at the industry standards in all fields in the corporate vector I feel that the use of both systems should be integrated in all school systems. With just having the knowledge of more than one system makes you flexible. Nowadays you really have to be well rounded and have that knowledge and not be centered only on one system. In some of the school districts they are taking action by giving students mac laptops and integrating more make labs with PC labs. All in all it will benefit students in the long run.

  18. In my opinion it would have to be Mac OSX… That being because there are many more that you don’t have to setup Third Party wise. While Windows, they don’t come the OS itself while they come standard on OSX

  19. Yeah…i agree very much…our school is mostly Win 98/2000…ugg…and we have a dozen Macs that are OS 4…collecting dust…but i think I can teach and i am 14 at our school…There idiots…lol…but yeah…Macs are good for education…but i have mainly experienced Windows…I am saving up for a MacBook Pro… Great Point again…bye

  20. Hey Chris,

    I have been a long time pc user. But the experience i have had with pc’s i think that for eduction the mac would be a lot better system to use. The reasons i that pc likes to crash a lot. I’ve used a mac for a bit, and NO crashing like a pc does. So if child or a teacher has a problem i think it would be a little to fix it little understanding of the software..

  21. I don’t think incorporating Macs into IT education is really a one-size-fits-all kind of deal. Do macs have a place in IT education? Yes, of course. Should they be the most used in IT education? That’s debatable, but I would say no. For schools, it would seem more reasonable to switch to Linux.

  22. So on the topic on mac or PC for education, for all of my years in elementary and high school it has been pure PC, all though when i was in young grade and they were teaching things, there were pictures of computer screens with no boxes, and i never understood what kind of computer they were till recently when i learned about macs, i wish that our school boards would buy some macs for the schools so that students can become familiar with macs, i would suggest the macs be used for art and creative parts of education. This year, my last year of high school,I’m in a computer programming class and we are possibly even going to install Ubuntu on school computers, if we get school board permission. πŸ˜€ So PC or mac or Linux for education is the name of that game.

  23. I have a class held on campus in a computer lab and every single computer in there is an iMac running Tiger. The instructor hooks the iMac on her desk up to the projector to run the lecture. Another one of my classes is held in a very large auditorium with over two hundred students. Almost every student in the front row who has a laptop, has a mac. I think the education and training for the basic fundamentals of each operating system should be given as early as elementary school.

    –“He is TOO old to begin the training”–

  24. Chris, I am a student, in 8th grade. I’ve been put around windows my whole life. It was only recently, from listening to you, that I found apple. I now have a macbook and I think it is an excellent laptop for a student. The os is so much easier. I just wish you could tell my teachers. Most are stuck around windows too. I tell my school, and most of them have macs but my school won’t go to mac. they had mac but now they don’t. In fact, they are about to switch to vista. So i’m switching schools πŸ™‚

  25. Chris, I am a student, in 8th grade. I’ve been put around windows my whole life. It was only recently, from listening to you, that I found apple. I now have a macbook and I think it is an excellent laptop for a student. The os is so much easier. I just wish you could tell my teachers. Most are stuck around windows too. I tell my school, and most of them have macs but my school won’t go to mac. they had mac but now they don’t. In fact, they are about to switch to vista. So i’m switching schools πŸ™‚ from private to public and I love it

  26. I’ve had experience with both Mac and PC, in educational settings over the years, and to be honest it’s really not a huge deal.

    In the early 1990s I remember noticing alot more Macintosh PCs than Windows based machines. However today, I see a stronger switch back to Windows machines. Obviously factors such as price have come into play.

    Schools focusing on digital media will most likely be utilizing Mac OS X machines for Apple’s rich software toolset.

    As Chris always says, the term PC, is interchangeable between a Mac and a Windows machine. There is hardly a difference in the capabilities of each operating system. It is basically a preference of what software you want to use for your purpose.

  27. Wow, if they started using Macs in school instead of PCs, i would bring my MacBook to school every day, I’m only in middle school but we use the computers a lot. I’m in the STEM academy, that is, Science Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, where we basically focus on… well… Science Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics and if we had Macs instead of PCs, a lot of programs and internet especially, I absolutely love my MacBook and would love it even more if i could use it at school.

  28. Yea it would be great if schools taught more about Mac and Linux. I know a good information about Macs because, one of my computer teachers in high school had one and let some of his students use it. It would also be a good idea to teach about Linux like Ubuntu since they made it easy to use there are also other Linux that are good too.

  29. In my point of view macs are MUCH better. For kids, teens or collegers, anyone should have a Mac. The ui is perfect for kids, while still has great programming possiblities for the college people. Teen just want the internet, but y give them the internet on a CRAPPY system, if you could get a mac?

    ~~~~Google

  30. Yes, more businesses use Windows than they use Macs. The same is true of home users; Windows is the main OS. That does not mean that it’s better than the Mac OS, only that more people choose it. Yet many believe that market dominance is sufficient reason to choose Windows over the Mac OS.

    I challenge any school system to demonstrate long-term cost savings by either switching from an all-Mac policy to dual platforms or from dual platforms to Windows PCs as their sole platform

  31. “Mac or PC?” Looking at the industry standards in all fields in the corporate vector I feel that the use of both systems should be integrated in all school systems. With just having the knowledge of more than one system makes you flexible. Nowadays you really have to be well rounded and have that knowledge and not be centered only on one system. In some of the school districts they are taking action by giving students mac laptops and integrating more make labs with PC labs. All in all it will benefit students in the long run.

  32. Incorporating Mac and Linux should be mandatory, in my opinion, as people just don’t use Windows, and you are bound to need some Mac or Linux experience at one point. Not to mention that it broadens what you can do, creating more opportunities for income. If they only incorporated one, Mac would be the way to go. But to really complete the triangle, get all new macs, and install XP or Vista and Linux on them, or just emulate them using a program such as VM Ware or Parallels.

    More and more people are switching over to Macs, meaning there will be more demand for support (maybe). If there is more demand, but few who can service it if nobody learns about it all in school. Sure, you would need to educate instructors and get new equipment, but looking into the future, it is a wise investment.

  33. i think schools go for windows because every mac user can get windows
    but not every windows can get macs ( students dont have a lot of money)
    as the case for linux, personally i think linux is not yet ready , its more like in the beta stages

  34. The first computer I was ever taught about in school was a mac. I still remember “making a box with the little marching ants” and then making it into a button… dont remember what that was for though…

    Anyway, I’m studying to get a COMPTIA A+ certification, but i won’t be happy with that. I’ll also want to get one for MAC. With everyone switching over to the MAC, it’s going to be very important to know how to take care of one. Even basic computer skills are taught on windows machines at the college, yet I see everyone carrying around a macbook at one point or another.

  35. Definitely Mac for school. Everything is a lot more user-friendly for the students, and for the administrators. Linux would be too complex and wouldn’t be familiar to the students.

  36. Well all of the schools I have went to were dominated by PC’s but there were a few classes that use mac’s. But I think most schools like to use mac because like you said more people have windows insted of mac.

  37. Yea I wish my High School had Macs the computers crash and run slow. It usually happens when I want to save something.

  38. Hello, personaly I would rather go with Macintosh computers, they are just more user-friendly then Windows.

  39. unfortunently, i think schools have gone to microsoft because of the very good prices for the OS and the hard wear/ for me, i am a mac guy and i think if schools have macs, we wouldnt have to be fixing them all the time and calling the main office to send someone down to fix it. so, unfortunently, pcs now and mabey macs in the future.

  40. Good point how us students can teach our teachers. I am in a electronics class were we learn, and how to build advanced circuts. Well we take our tests on computers and well one of the computer broke down one day. And so my teacher knew a lot about circuts and things, but I couldn’t belive it that he didn’t know any thing about computers. So I came in after school one day and I helped him order the parts he neededto fix the computer, the parts came in about 3 days. Then another day after school and taught him how to replace a CPU, heetsync, and a new porwer supply. It was a nice experiece teaching my teacher something. That he didn’t know and I did.

  41. This is actually pretty interesting.
    My school still had an iMac G3 lab last year (High School)
    Then they just got a bunch of new HPs for a lot of teachers. At least they installed XP instead of Vista on them.
    but yeah, I wish they would teach a wider range of operating systems.
    The A+ teacher from what I hear hates Macs…. so basically he shouldn’t be teaching about computers under your standards. I like your thinking Chris.
    Anyway, I agree, a wide variety of systems should be taught, its a sad thing the only Macs left in the school are powerPCs and those are in a multimedia class.

    Till Next time
    ~ Tyler, AKA Condoulo

  42. hmm, well at my school, they have a Mac and a PC lab, giving each teacher an opportunity to expose their class to those two, but I think linux is being shunned a bit by education, and so far I never seen any school have their computers running linux sadly. I would choose Mac over PC in this discussion though, mainly for user friendliness, but you can also run windows on it too, so enough said, but i’d still like linux appear somewhere πŸ™‚

  43. I just want to say that for education the Mac just seems like the right choice. Just to let everyone know I am a freshman in college and it seems to me that when I am on my new Mac Mini I can get so much more done then when I am on the PC. The Mac does not only make the experience more productive but an inviting one because it makes me feel more inclined to use the mac. I think that Apple has the right idea and I am excited to see what happens with an apple in the next few years.

  44. Dude, Oregon Trail was the way of life for a 4th grade kid in the midwest back in the day. The only time I used a Mac was in school, but I don’t knock them, just haven’t bought one. But as far as teaching goes they need to start hiring 12 year olds to teach those 40+ internet virgins.

  45. My school has both but are tech guy says its very expensive to kepp them cause over the corse of several years parts break and you have to get a whole new system you cant just replace a part. i think windows is better because its easier to set up a network, maintain, and use

  46. I have never tried a Mac and i am getting use to the PC. I however do think when Teaching it should be as many platforms as one can learn. Now with all the spam/hackers/viruses out there it seams more safe to use anything other than microsoft. I agree with Chris if the teacher can not teach then let a student that has the knowledge.

  47. Up until recently, the only times I’d even laid eyes on a Mac were in art classes. When I was younger I attended various summer programs at the Memphis College of Art, and developed an interest in Digital Art/Design mainly because of my exposure to Photoshop (and the awesomeness that was a graphics tablet). I managed to complete my first three years of high school using only Windows machines (both at home and in the classroom), and felt completely satisfied with what Microsoft and PC manufacturers had to offer. It was during this time that I acquired a real, working knowledge of computer hardware and software through the “technology-focused” curriculum that I’d decided to explore.

    It didn’t dawn on me until the summer before my senior year, when I got the opportunity to go to a prep school near boston–a long way from my home in Memphis, TN–that I got a dose of reality. Given that I had all but abandoned any thought of pursuing a career in art, I had gone for a number of years without so much as laying a finger on a Mac (and at the time, I was still completely oblivious as to the existence of a little thing called Linux). I had chosen to take two art courses before my senior year, knowing that I might not have the same opportunity in college (as a CS major). Imagine my surprise when I first entered the school’s “Media Lab” for my Computer Graphics class to find a room populated entirely with Power Mac G5’s. Keep in mind that to this point, the only program I’d ever really used on a Mac had been Photoshop, so entering an environment without a traditional PC in sight was somewhat daunting to say the least. At no point, in any of my “technology-focused” courses, had I learned a thing about Apple computers.

    The instructor was more than happy to offer assistance to those unfamiliar with the OS, making the transition fairly painless (though “quitting” as opposed to closing a window gave me grief early). I became accustomed to using Safari and Photoshop, and soon wondered how I’d managed to live so long without Widgets.

    My next realization about the PC/Mac dichotomy of the tech universe (still no Linux) came when I had to write a report. Write?…On a Mac? A quick look in the applications folder and there it is: Microsoft Office 2004 for Mac. Why didn’t I know that this existed? Shouldn’t I have had at least some knowledge of such things after spending all those hours in my high school computer courses?

    After my summer experience, I returned to school with an entirely new perspective on the computer courses offered. I felt as though I’d been trapped in a sort of technological bubble, kept blissfully unaware of the developments of and within operating systems other than Windows. And unfortunately, I know that I’m not alone. Every person I talked to about computers knew no more about Macs than they did in elementary school, when little else was available.

    Even today, as a college freshman, I find that the only people with any real knowledge of Mac OS X (or Linux for that matter) are those who own them. While I never get tired of seeing the looks on my classmates’ faces when they see Ubuntu or Windows XP running on my Macbook in a virtual machine, I still find it somewhat disturbing that members of such a “tech-savvy” generation are so poorly informed about what is going on in the world of technology. More distressing is it that even now, at a major university, most people (and I’m referring to Computer Science majors!) don’t seem to acknowledge the existence of anything other than that which they have grown accustomed. It seems surreal that I was exactly the same way until that fateful summer. Would I be just like my classmates had I not ventured away from the comfort of the South, and been exposed to the non-Windows world? Probably.

    I certainly hope to see a greater effort made in the near future to expand the scope of “Computer Science” courses. It’s great that I have a firm grasp on C++ programming, but what happens when I must apply that knowledge outside of Microsoft Visual C++ Express? I use the entire name of the program (and a solid program it is) to illustrate the narrowness of this way of teaching. The argument, I suppose, is that since everyone uses Windows, students are only in need of knowledge pertaining to Windows. As of late it has become more and more obvious that this is not the case. We exist in the information age, and people are only going to become more informed. As people become more aware of the options that exist in this wide world of technology, it seems inevitable that a broad knowledge base will become all but a necessity in any technology-centered career. I personally think that it’s only a matter of time before educational institutions come to that realization, and make a greater effort to expose students to a wider array of technologies and ways of thinking.

  48. Up until recently, the only times I’d even laid eyes on a Mac were in art classes. When I was younger I attended various summer programs at the Memphis College of Art, and developed an interest in Digital Art/Design mainly because of my exposure to Photoshop (and the awesomeness that was a graphics tablet). I managed to complete my first three years of high school using only Windows machines (both at home and in the classroom), and felt completely satisfied with what Microsoft and PC manufacturers had to offer. It was during this time that I acquired a real, working knowledge of computer hardware and software through the “technology-focused” curriculum that I’d decided to explore.

    It didn’t dawn on me until the summer before my senior year, when I got the opportunity to go to a prep school near boston–a long way from my home in Memphis, TN–that I got a dose of reality. Given that I had all but abandoned any thought of pursuing a career in art, I had gone for a number of years without so much as laying a finger on a Mac (and at the time, I was still completely oblivious as to the existence of a little thing called Linux). I had chosen to take two art courses before my senior year, knowing that I might not have the same opportunity in college (as a CS major). Imagine my surprise when I first entered the school’s “Media Lab” for my Computer Graphics class to find a room populated entirely with Power Mac G5’s. Keep in mind that to this point, the only program I’d ever really used on a Mac had been Photoshop, so entering an environment without a traditional PC in sight was somewhat daunting to say the least. At no point, in any of my “technology-focused” courses, had I learned a thing about Apple computers.

    The instructor was more than happy to offer assistance to those unfamiliar with the OS, making the transition fairly painless (though “quitting” as opposed to closing a window gave me grief early). I became accustomed to using Safari and Photoshop, and soon wondered how I’d managed to live so long without Widgets.

    My next realization about the PC/Mac dichotomy of the tech universe (still no Linux) came when I had to write a report. Write?…On a Mac? A quick look in the applications folder and there it is: Microsoft Office 2004 for Mac. Why didn’t I know that this existed? Shouldn’t I have had at least some knowledge of such things after spending all those hours in my high school computer courses?

    After my summer experience, I returned to school with an entirely new perspective on the computer courses offered. I felt as though I’d been trapped in a sort of technological bubble, kept blissfully unaware of the developments of and within operating systems other than Windows. And unfortunately, I know that I’m not alone. Every person I talked to about computers knew no more about Macs than they did in elementary school, when little else was available.

    Even today, as a college freshman, I find that the only people with any real knowledge of Mac OS X (or Linux for that matter) are those who own them. While I never get tired of seeing the looks on my classmates’ faces when they see Ubuntu or Windows XP running on my Macbook in a virtual machine, I still find it somewhat disturbing that members of such a “tech-savvy” generation are so poorly informed about what is going on in the world of technology. More distressing is it that even now, at a major university, most people (and I’m referring to Computer Science majors!) don’t seem to acknowledge the existence of anything other than that which they have grown accustomed. It seems surreal that I was exactly the same way until that fateful summer. Would I be just like my classmates had I not ventured away from the comfort of the South, and been exposed to the non-Windows world? Probably.

    I certainly hope to see a greater effort made in the near future to expand the scope of “Computer Science” courses. It’s great that I have a firm grasp on C++ programming, but what happens when I must apply that knowledge outside of Microsoft Visual C++ Express? I use the entire name of the program (and a solid program it is) to illustrate the narrowness of this way of teaching. The argument, I suppose, is that since everyone uses Windows, students are only in need of knowledge pertaining to Windows. As of late it has become more and more obvious that this is not the case. We exist in the information age, and people are only going to become more informed. As people become more aware of the options that exist in this wide world of technology, it seems inevitable that a broad knowledge base will become all but a necessity in any technology-centered career. I personally think that it’s only a matter of time before educational institutions come to that realization, and make a greater effort to expose students to a wider array of technologies and ways of thinking.

  49. I just recently got into the computer science major at my school and was introduced to Linux for the first time, which is what all the computers in the lab run…Pretty neat, and different. Ide say computer education will probably stay on the PC Windows track for a while longer, and eventually go towards Ubuntuesqe Linux stuff.

  50. I think that providing diverse education in all operating systems and platforms should be the way that IT education should go. As the Mac gains popularity, the platform and the OS need to be part of every cirriculum.

  51. I would say mac for education because it offers a larger range of programs ……im not a mac person myself but i wish i was lol

    pc for home because i like to play games and im not sure if you can play games on macs

  52. Hi Chris

    Drop by your site every now and then to see what you have to say.

    Two days ago and right now I am hearing what seems to be live audio on you site. Is this intentional?

  53. I think that macs may be a better choice because:

    -More user friendly
    -Not as prone to viruses
    -Many fun learning programs

    All the operating systems would work pretty good though, maybe Linux for college because the classes the student would have taken in high school would have made them more computer savy and make them sort of ready to use Linux without that much of a problem.

    Windows, is to just a standard office/gaming operating system, not much to say because there are not that many people who haven’t used Windows, am I right?

  54. My school has 500 Dell XP desktop computers and 1 first gen iMac in a cupboard in the main IT Suite. I used windows for years, but then Microsoft shot itself in the foot with Vista, I now use leopard. Maybe with windows 7.

  55. all of yall are lucky we I live in a windows dominated area and all we have are dells that came with windows 98 but where later upgraded to xp i feel special cause i know im using the best OS in my school leopard

  56. any1 can be a teacher =) thank you.. i know alot more then alot of adults on windows and mac =).. when i started with macs a 8 year old told me clover leaf period spacebar thing =).. very smart boy.. so i taught him about windows..

  57. Mac laptops sleep when the lid is closed and wake instantly when opened. Can do that for months without having to reboot. I haven’t had the same results with Windows. Makes going between classes easier and quicker than having to reboot.

  58. Not true. As a matter of fact of the 10 schools I’ve been to. I’ve worked in 5 of them. They all have PC’s. Not one single Mac. I think if there is a Mac that it would most likely be in the Art Dept. I think it depends on the technology department of the school district what computers they have.

  59. well i use pc and i preffer it. Way more stuff you can do on a pc then on a mac. Im not saying that mac is bad but just that pc is more advanced and has more software for it

  60. In the middle of one of my CIS classes the other day, my professor made a joke about a bunch of people who were using MacBooks in class now. He was like: “I think it’s kinda funny that they’re using Macs and their getting a CIS degree…” Why? Why be biased? Seriously…it’s dumb. A college computer course shouldn’t have a biased professor and they should teach MAC, PC, & LINUX! Hell, even my operating systems class doesn’t teach OSX. WTF? Get a clue, half the university is using them…

  61. my school thinks that macs are too expensive but i think that they would save alot of time on tech support if they made the switch from windows to mac

  62. Yeah, i really agree with the Triangle of OS teaching

    -LINUX
    -WINDOWS
    -MAC

    very good idea, even though linux has even been trying to be speacialized in education with there “Edubuntu” which unlike most mac/windows that don’t even speacialize in education is completely FREE, which has to be the coolest thing ever about linux.

    Go linux, Go Chris, thanks for listening

  63. Honestly, it’s all up to the school in question.

    That said, it’s going to be quite up in the air. Some schools will go Mac, some will go PC. As for Linux, I think that will happen when an ambitious teacher decides to start putting dual-boots on computers to teach Linux to aspiring power users (such as those in a programming or higher level computers class)

    What it will come down to is which company the school district in question has a deal with. I know for a fact that my old school district for high school gets huge deals from Apple on mac computers. Thus, all of the schools in the area all have Apple Computers (Yes, even old IIe’s) If a district got a huge deal from, say, Dell, they’ll have a bunch of Windows-based computers.

    I can agree with Chris on a few points: Computers should be taught from as many angles as possible. The more angles you understand a computer from, the better you understand them as a whole, regardless of operating system. I also agree that Linux should be introduced to schools. Perhaps not to people just looking to type up a paper, but getting even mid-level users familiar with a command line, etc. is a step in the right direction, especially with computers becoming ingrained in every aspect of life.

    Currently at university for Computer Science Education (for the high school level.) This is something that I seriously have to consider, what am I going to teach when I get into a class room? Ideally, I do want to teach Linux to higher-level users, but whichever is there, Mac or PC, I will teach as well. Computers are a thing that people will learn regardless of operating system. I wouldn’t say one is easier than the other, and I wouldn’t say one is better than the other.

  64. Hello,
    I have read the email and the resulting comments with much interest. I have worked in primary schools in Australia for many years now the last 8+ years in computer support and as Network Manager both with Windows and Apple computer systems.
    My current school is fully Apple on the curriculum side and we may be introducing Windows based computers – possibly Notebooks in the next few years.
    Having worked with a Mac system for the past 4 and a half years, I know which system I’d prefer.
    Some of the main reasons put forward are:
    1. Windows computers are cheaper
    2. Students need to be exposed to both systems
    3. Most businesses use Windows computers

    My responses will be:
    1. We need to consider ‘Total cost of Ownership’. Initial cost of a PC may be cheaper but when you take into account more downtime, extra support for fixing issues etc Macs are a more reliable machine
    2. Exactly what part of Windows do the students need to learn?
    We need to educate students about technology and how to use technology in their learning. Skills we need to teach include keyboarding skills and word processing, spreadsheets, multimedia and the Internet etc.
    The next step is to learn how to apply the computer tool, discovering creative ways of using the applications which leads to real learning.
    NONE of the above is platform dependent
    Future employers look for qualities such as:
    Integrity
    Good communication skills
    Dependability
    Willingness to learn
    flexibility
    NOT whether a person can use Windows or Macs
    This, I’m sure, will lead to further discussion…

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