Mac vs Microsoft

Education

First let me start this off by saying that I am a firm supporter of Apple products.  I have a Mac Mini, iPhone (since the beginning), Air, iPad 2, and Apple TV.  My wife is a fan as well and I’m sure my soon to be born daughter will be begging me for an iPhone much sooner than I can take.  I will not be changing from my Apple products any time soon and like having their products in my classroom.  I just wanted to make this clear before you continue reading this post.

I was browsing through Twitter last night when I ran across multiple people tweeting about a landmark case for Apple in the classroom.  I followed multiple links to this article from the Maine Sunday Telegram where Apple lost out on a substantial bid to provide laptops to the students of the State of Maine.  I’ve come across two types of people when talking about the decision: 1) people who feel like Apple must lower their prices or 2) people who cannot believe that Maine would not choose Apple over HP.  Both of these stances are non-sensical to me.

High Priced Apple

Ever since I was in college there are two main arguments with Apple products: they cost too much money and are not easily upgradeable.  Both of these are true statements.  Even if I apply either my educator discount to a new Apple purchase or shop the refurbished section (a great idea by the way) I could easily buy a comparable Windows based machine for much less.  It is also very difficult to upgrade almost anything on a Mac other than their Mac Pro tower, but even then you have to make sure it’s compatible with their operating system.  I added some RAM to my Mac Mini recently and I felt like I was playing the board game Operation.  Speaking as someone who is sold on the Apple brand, these two weaknesses of Apple are not the reason I buy almost all of my computing products from them.  I buy their products because I like their operating system, it all integrates together rather seamlessly, and they tend to stay on the cutting edge of technology.  I fully realize that I will be paying a premium price for all their hardware, and so do the throngs of people who regularly crowd the Apple Store every weekend.  The idea that Apple has priced-out their market is silly to me.  There will always be people willing to buy an Apple product because they make quality hardware that just works.

HP Over Apple

While the state is changing their preferred vendor to HP, that doesn’t mean that every child in the state must have an HP laptop.  It is not clear from the article what all of the laptop choices will be, but it is reasonable to think that districts could choose to stay with Apple since much of their network infrastructure is already Apple based.  What shocked me was not that they opted out of an Apple contract, but rather that they did so with solid reasoning to back up their decision.  The lowest priced bid was for iPads for every student, and while they are nifty I would choose for kids to have a laptop over an iPad in the classroom 10 times out of 10.  I love my iPad and there are awesome learning experiences to be had on an iPad, but having a fully functional laptop is my preference.  In my experience students prefer to have laptops as well, so I tend to agree with Mr. Hamlin in the article.  If it came down to iPads or nothing of course I would choose an iPad, but I would rather have a laptop than an iPad.  The state also backed up this decision by throwing out the statistic that the HP operating system is most commonly used in Maine businesses.  You may not agree with their reasoning, but at least the state came at this from sound logic which was the desire to prepare students in school system for the working world around their state.

Conclusion

My first choice for my personal classroom is to have all Apple laptops.  I realize that this is not only a pipe-dream, but a resource drain for the teachers around me in my building.  For the price of a class set of Apple laptops we could outfit multiple classrooms with iPads or HP laptops, but in my utopian classroom I’ll have Macbooks.  That being said, to say that Apple needs to redo it’s model for producing laptops is silly.  Sure they lost out on a pretty massive contract, but I’m sure the impending launch of the iPhone 5S will more than make up for losing a contract.  We tend to criticize school districts for not doing what is right for the kids under their care, but as far as I can tell Maine has done just that.  They have chosen the most cost effective way to get full laptops into their students’ hands and that laptop directly correlates with the working world in the State of Maine.  We might not agree out of personal preference, but kuddos for making an informed opinion.

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Burdens

Education

Don't Leave Your Bicycle Next to a Tree for Thirty Years

I was reading this article, and it seemed to be a perfect metaphor to what I can become if I quit pushing myself as a teacher.  I run the risk of becoming stagnant in an ever changing workplace.

The bike in this picture was simply lost and left alone in the path of a growing tree.  Fast forward a few decades and the bike has been swarmed by the rest of the tree and could now be considered a burden to the rest of the tree.  In the same way if we do not continue to evolve and continue down the path of growth as a teacher, could we not be a burden to our occupation?  I really hope that this picture never describes me as a teacher.  I hope that I will have retired as an educator long before this depicts me.  The children we have the opportunity to teach deserve better than having someone collecting a paycheck rather than do what is best for kids.

It’s the Final Countdown

Family

We’ve done everything we’re supposed to by now.  We have gotten the nursery together, had multiple baby showers, interviewed pediatricians, contacted relatives, made numerous visits to the hospital, and attended three classes through our hospital.  I’ve read books, she hasn’t…which is a bit odd.  We’ve done everything we can think of to get ourselves and our home ready for our baby to come home, so now we wait.

For the first time today it hit me that in not too much longer we’ll be a family of three.  I’ve said that before, but this time it’s hit me hard.  I think it’s because the other couple due right around us is on the maternity/paternity leave and that means ours isn’t much behind them.  I’m nervous, scared, excited, lost for words…everything all at once, and that’s strange for me.  Hopefully, everything works out as it’s supposed to and everything will go relatively smoothly.  We have a doctor’s appointment tomorrow with a sonogram scheduled, so I guess I’ll know more tomorrow.

Survive and Advance

Education

It’s getting to that time of the year that two distinct things happen to teachers: survive and advance.  No, I’m not talking about the ESPN 30 for 30 film of the exact same name.  Rather, I’m talking about the mindset of teachers during the last months of the school year.  I’m finding more value in this state of mind this year because I’m trying to force myself out of what I’ve always done during this point of the school year.

Survive

In the past this part of the school year has been completely about surviving from day to day.  The units that I’ve taught in my social studies classes haven’t been re-imagined in years.  We do the same things as we did last year (which happen to have a higher number or videos in them than most units) and bank on the fact that its the end of the year and we all need a break before the final six-weeks madness.  Generally speaking, there are fewer administration walkthroughs being done and less attention being paid to the details of the school day.

This school year I’m trying a new approach.  I’m using this time to test out things I’m interested in using more for next school year.  I’m creating differentiated lessons, trying new technologies, and reading more books than I ever have before and it’s caused me to stay on my toes.  My kids enjoy the trial and error process of new things and aren’t beaten down by the way my class always operates.  I’ve also been able to redesign the way my classroom will operate next year (thanks to a certain book given to me by my principal) and being able to connect with people who have tried something similar and incorporate similar attitudes has been refreshing.

Advance

To a point I am talking about moving on to the next school year.  I’m looking forward to a number of changes next year.  First my family will be growing by one in the next month.  Second, hopefully I will not be coaching next year and can really embrace my role of history department head.  Third, my wife will be transitioning to a stay at home mom role next year and all the changes that will bring along with it.  I’m also planning on attending a conference this summer through an educator grant I may be getting and making myself aware of all the growth and learning opportunities available to me through Twitter, co-workers, as well as my local library.

All in all, I’m enjoying a season of the school year I never really have and I’m excited about the possibilities for what changes will occur in my teaching style in the coming months.