Following The Trend

Five years ago I wroteabout my triumphant victory over the Windows masses at my school, which allowed for the purchase of 12 bondi blue iMacs. The machines have been a perfect example of high quality, sturdy construction, quiet operation, and only $50 in repairs. They have survived OS upgrades from 8.5 to 9.2 to 10.1 to finally 10.2. Unfortunately, they have also witnessed Apple’s falling market share at our school from twelve families to one. In addition, as my fellow staff members became computer literate they also developed a blind spot to Apple. As each year went by it became harder and harder to deflect and sway opinions. The final nail in the coffin happened at the beginning of October as I was informed that since my school’s entire technology budget comes from Intel volunteer matching funds that no additional money for the iMac lab was forthcoming. I would have to find financial support for the creation of a two or three eMacs for an iMovie studio outside of school resources. I had to ask myself some very difficult questions:

One, Where is the future for Apple in education?
As I have stated and lamented, Apple Education is a rudderless operation. According to reports it is undergoing another reorganization including layoffs. The powers that be can’t seem to understand the basic problem; it takes face-to-face contact to sell to schools. Big laptop sales to a few high profile groups doesn’t make up for the hundreds of smaller sales going down the tubes. Why wasn’t Steve Jobs himself calling the Florida district’s superintendent after he announced without consulting his employees that it was going all wintel? The negative press alone swayed other schools to follow suit. The future for Apple in Education lay in video, period. The eMac is a great video editor with either iMovie or iDVD.

What computers do the kids use at home and in the four high schools our students attend?I’ve already mentioned what my school’s family’s use at home. Even with the fact that Office X was being used at school with its transparent file exchange with Office 2000 and newer, the perception was still alien to many of the students and teachers. All the high schools use Windows, the only area that Macs are found is in the video arena. This further swayed my opinion.

How many more years will I have the iMacs?Realistically, under the technology committee’s five-year plan, the iMacs were only scheduled to be around through 2005 school year. I no longer had the clout of certain families to keep the lab Macintosh. The handwriting was on the wall; all I needed to do was be honest with myself to see the reality.

How much longer can I continue to run up and down the stairs at my school every time a student gets a spinning beach ball trying to save onto a USB floppy?This sounds trivial, but in this day and age of No Child Left Behind legislation every minute counts in a classroom even in a parochial school. The loss of lesson time, plus refocusing the kids even as well behaved, as I’m lucky enough to have is a killer. The ever-increasing frustration of my fellow teachers in having to send a student to me to go downstairs to fix the problem revealed their own weaknesses in front of students. This sounds terribly vain on the surface, but in reality it is an honest concern. Not to mention the loss of time to the students working on that particular computer.

What are my future goals for the school tech program?For the past two years I have been laying the groundwork with the students, parents, and staff regarding the video editing future for our students. We are the only private school in the area even looking at computer movie making in the area. This will be a great advantage in our marketing and recruiting of students to have this program available. My view of having all students being video-literate is in direct alignment with Steve Jobs’ view when he introduced iMovie a few years back.

The Decision: Originally, I was looking for a summer of 2004 conversion of the iMac lab. However, about two weeks ago I stopped at the local computer recycler to pick up a hard drive and an RGB video cable. While there I noticed two pallets of Micron PII 450 towers. I had just received two as a donation and had been impressed by their quality and quiet operation. The manager informed me that I could buy them for $75 each including a 17-inch monitor. An idea began to form in my head. Before you decide to flame me in emails hear me out, please. The lab was going to go Windows and I knew it. But, by purchasing 25 Micron systems for $2000 I could then solve four major issues. One, is financial, raising money is never a fun issue. Two, since the most processor intensive thing the lab does is PowerPoint and Internet a PII works just fine. The Windows lab happens immediately and frees me up from many of the trips downstairs each week. Third, I can sell the iMacs and use the money to purchase two or three eMacs and have my video-editing lab now. Four, right now I have to deal with eleven different types of computer models between all the classrooms. By purchasing 10 extra computers (only 15 can fit in the lab) I can replace a number of older PI systems and be down to just two different types of wintel computer designs. This standardization is a big help with the limited amount of time I have to troubleshoot problems.

So, who is going to buy my twelve iMacs? I do have a bid from a used dealer; however, I would much prefer to sell them to another school. If you live within driving distance of Portland, OR and are interested contact me by email for details, they are all in excellent condition.

Mark Marcantonio

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