Distinguished educator explains her choice of Macs

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Julene Reed, director of technology at St. George's Day School in Germantown, TN and an Apple Distinguished Educator (ADE), is a huge Mac fan. She recently wrote a report on the effectiveness of Apple products and technology for an administrative staff meeting presentation (they're building a new high school and are fighting the age old Mac vs. PC battle), and was kind enough to share some of her thoughts from the report with MacCentral.

An Apple Distinguished Educator (ADE) is an individual from Pre-K through Post Graduate School and is established in their respective field as an outstanding pioneer. The competitive ADE program recognizes over 240 exceptional educators throughout the world.

Reed began working in the field of technology in 1973 when she worked for the Burroughs Corp. (now Unisys). Through the years, she has continued to have a strong role in the field of technology in education. She's worked with rooms full of mainframes and keypunch cards, as well as using MS-DOS, Basic, Windows based PC's, and a variety of Mac and early Apple computers.

"During our many discussions of the laptop possibilities at the high school, I have truly open mindedly and objectively investigated many brands and platforms," Reed said. "Our research has brought us to the Dell laptops and the Apple laptops as the systems of choice. While I do think students should be able to maneuver in any operating system environment, I recommend that we maintain the Apple platform for the majority of our computers, including any laptops we would utilize in a laptop program. We can also provide training for the Windows platform on those same machines."

Reed has several reasons for this. First of all, once the decision of platform is finalized, other administrators will carry on their responsibilities, and that decision will be history. However, it will only be the beginning of the technology department's responsibilities for the school, the faculty and staff, and the students, she said.

"Apple computers have been proven time and time again to require less technical support than their Windows counterparts," Reed explained. "More support would be required for Windows based PCs. In addition, Windows-based computers are extremely susceptible to viruses, while Macintosh computers are rarely exposed. This is very important when you have a campus full of laptop computers."

She said she has "truly come full circle" in her investigations of different computers and platform issues. She's listened to concerns regarding the perception of the local school board members and parents regarding Macs -- that the "business world" uses Windows-based computers and has concluded that this isn't reality.

"The business world utilizes Word, Excel and PowerPoint," Reed said. "Our students at the high school will use Word, Excel and PowerPoint. Both platforms of computers provide Internet access. Windows based computers come without software. Apple computers come with AppleWorks and iMovie as well as iTunes and disk burning software."

What's more, she feels that video is the media of the future for today's students. The incredible projects that can be created through the use of iMovie have a great educational impact for middle and high school students, Reed stated.

"Not only can 'fun' movies be created showcasing events at the school, but great real-world authentic learning experiences can be recorded, culminating activities for research projects can be presented, and the creativity of this media allows for open ended possibilities," Reed noted. "Yes, there are other programs that provide this type of technology for the Windows-based PCs. However, you must pay for the software, it's much more difficult to learn to use, and the FireWire connections utilized for digital video transfer are not internal and standard on them as they are on the Apple products."

Another issue regarding the platform choice is the educational support and professional development that companies do or don't offer. Reed has looked at the Web sites of Dell and IBM and asked about their support for education. She said that it's either non-existent or very minimal. On the other hand, Apple's main focus is education.

"Their Web site alone provides staff development opportunities, best practices that can be searched for teaching ideas and curriculum development, space on their servers for teachers to store and share documents, the ability for teachers to build Web sites using templates and their hosting services at no charge, plus many, many other opportunities," Reed said. "At conferences, you find sales personnel at the Dell and Compaq booths. At Apple's booth, there are sales personnel, but there are also educators and technical staff on hand for any teachers and administrators to talk to about programs, problems, curriculum ideas, etc."

She spent over an hour with two other Apple personnel during the state technology conference last week planning and developing guidelines for the Memphis (TN) City Schools' multimedia contest. None were paid for these duties. They did it because of Apple's commitment to education, Reed said.

This story, "Distinguished educator explains her choice of Macs" was originally published by PCWorld.

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