PC or Mac for Education?

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 thought-provoking questions.

Hi Robert, I am one of your subscribers. 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 learned 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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