Sometimes you hear of schools migrating to Windows from the Mac (just call it backward migration). The story’s usually the same, told from the point of view of the administrators, not the educators. The touted reasons for switching are almost always: 1) Wintel systems are cheaper, and 2) it’s easier to support one platform than two.
In some cases, the decision turns out to be a costly one in terms of time and money. Recently, MacCentral interviewed an educator in a system that went with the Wintel platform and has had nothing but grief since. The educator has asked that his name and the name of the school system be withheld from this story, so he doesn’t lose his job.
The initial decision to go all Wintel was made without anyone on the school board demanding back-up for the IT director’s completely absurd assertion that Mac upkeep costs were “about the same as” Wintel costs for the previous several years, the teacher told MacCentral. No one now is demanding or getting cost factors, he added.
“A big part of the picture is the state’s financial self-destruction and the resulting cuts in tech support for the schools,” the teacher said. “I have little doubt that it will not be possible to replace failing machines for all teachers in the next few years. Our much vaunted ‘enterprise solution’ (which never reached the level of providing online grades for parents, etc.) will collapse. E-mail and centralized grading will begin to falter.”
Early this year, a single Wintel virus got into the school system’s computer system. The consulting company hired by the district was asked to give an estimate for cleaning everything up. Their charge: US$70,000.
“The district, with shrinking funding for everything, decided to clean up the mess itself,” the teacher said. “Consequently, dozens of tech people did nothing but clean-up for about a month. That’s one virus in the first year of the implementation of the standardization directive. Older Macs still in the system continued to operate perfectly.”
Part of the standardization initiative, however, denies Mac users any upgrade of the operating system beyond Mac OS 8.6. The teacher said he had no way of knowing, but suspects that this tends to increase Mac “problems” in the system as new elements are added.