Every Friday I like to pull an interesting topic from the forum and share it mull it over a bit so that others might have a chance to read and/or think about it in greater depth. This week, one of the newest members of the forum, NMC96, posted a cry for help and asked for some suggestions about her small private school’s impending computer upgrade. They currently have 15 older Macs, not sure on what kind as they weren’t specified, but in need of replacement.
Our school is raising money to implement a new technology program for our small private school (approx. 150 elementary students). We currently have a mac lab of 15 computers (we take in half a class at a time) and each room has a computer or two (for teacher use). Our macs are old and we’re looking at updating. We thought of the computer lab (with 15 stationary computers) on one side of the school and a cart with 15 or so laptops on the other side of the school that can be brought into the classrooms. We’re considering macs, pcs, and we’ve been approached by a parent to consider Lennox (I’m not familiar with this). We also need to know more about smartboards. I’m a real novice at this. Help!
My first instinct was to go for the Macs. I’m a Mac lover at heart, although only a recent convert as my iBook is only 3 years old (nothing but PCs before that). I also thought that going from older Macs to newer Macs would be a simple and relatively painless process for users in NMC96’s school. The operating system wouldn’t be too much more difficult to get used to, and it would offer a ton of free software that you would otherwise have to pay for on a Windows machine (I’m talking about you, Microsoft Office). I also advised NMC96 to stay away from “Lennox” (which I assumed was Linux) unless they had a highly savvy technical staff and/or volunteers that would maintain their computers for them, as 99.9% of educators I know have trouble enough working in a Windows or Mac environment with full customer support from vendors.
However, AndyAK, our friend from Alaska, advised about searching for used, and possibly donated PCs from local governmental agencies.
I would ask first……which version of the Mac are you running?? OS 9 or OS X? The truth is, switching from 9 to X is about as big a shift as any other platform change. You don’t say where you are, but near any big town, you can probably find decent PC’s as donations. In terms of finding bunches, PC”s are much more likely to show up. Check your state surplus property office as well as any branches of the federal gov, or military. They all give them away on a regular basis. Right now, a “slow” P IV is a fine processor for most school work.
Pretty financially savvy guy, that Andy. He also advised that going from Mac OS9 to OS X was just about as monumental as switching platforms, to which I can’t say anything since I never experienced that switch. But it still brought a little bit of the Mac fanboy defense out of me, as I’m sure that any older PC donated from a local charity or government office would still be more difficult and slow to work with than switching to a newer version of the Mac OS. Of course, I could be completely wrong on this one, but it still begs the hypothetical question; if you could upgrade all of the computers in your district at once, would you go with Mac, or Windows PCs?