On October 17, Apple announced a new program to give teachers in the United States a free copy of Mac OS X Jaguar. While many schools districts throughout the U.S. have yet to try Apple’s new operating system, some teachers and school districts have already implemented programs that utilize the applications and technologies in the OS.
The Sedgwick Public School in Sedgwick, KS have put together a “SWAT Team” of students that help other students and teachers with technology related issues in the school district. The SWAT team’s role has expanded from school related issues to helping businesses in the community and will continue to expand in the future.
“In addition to helping with computer problems, they complete ‘work requests’ for the community,” Darren Crumrine, a technology resource teacher at Sedgwick Public School, told MacCentral. “iMovie is one of several software applications we have used to meet the requests and we are planning to develop web pages for businesses in the community later in the year.”
Anecdotal evidence in places like Maine and Henrico County suggest technology programs have helped students on many different levels. Crumrine says that with technology and the SWAT Team, his own role as a teacher has changed from a provider of knowledge to a facilitator.
“As long as students are making progress towards the goals of a given project, I usually do not set a hard and fast deadline,” said Crumrine. “This has been beneficial in that it students feel they can be more creative because they are not under the pressure of a deadline. The result has been a great working relationship in the classroom.”
Sedgwick Public Schools have 85 students with their own iBooks and three iMac labs with 25 computers in each.
Teachers make the switch
The Grossmont Union High School District in La Mesa, California has been working with their teachers to switch over to Mac OS X. Out of the 1,200 laptops being used in the district by teachers, 1,000 of them are using Mac OS X on their iBooks, with the remaining 200 teachers use Dell laptops.
“OS X is more reliable than previous versions,” said Warren Williams, Assistant Superintendent Information and Technology Services, Grossmont Union High School District. “We have fewer support calls to fix operating system errors and it fits nicely with our migration to Unix based platforms and industry standards. Ultimately it will save our teachers computing time so they can devote more effort towards incorporating technology as a tool to deliver instruction rather than wasting time managing software.”
As with the Sedgwick school system, Williams points to Apple’s iApps like iMovie, iPhoto and iTunes as tools teachers are using in the classroom. But it’s not just Apple’s free suite of applications that are being utilized in the district; Final Cut Pro, Adobe Photoshop, Cinema 4D and Maya are also being used on student machines, which are all in the process of being moved to Mac OS X.
“It [Mac OS X] permits easier collaboration between teachers and students,” said Williams. “Some are already using apps like iChat to enhance communication. Every student and teacher has been provided an eBackpack, an online storage and collaboration tool that runs on OS X. By providing every teacher with a laptop loaded with OSX and other multimedia applications we have made way for our teachers to take attendance online, incorporate video into instruction and use them to prepare our students with 21st Century skills.”
The backend servers in the district are running Mac OS X Server to power the student information system, a QuickTime Streaming Server and Web page delivery.
Putting Jaguar in teacher’s hands
The program launched by Apple last week, dubbed ” X for Teachers,” will put a copy of Jaguar in the hands of any K-12 teacher in the U.S. that wants to sign-up for the program. Qualifying teachers will receive Mac OS X v10.2 Jaguar, Mac OS 9 for Classic support and a Getting Started with Mac OS X Training CD — Apple will also pay for shipping, handling and postage.
“One of the main strategies behind the program is to get Jaguar in the hands of as many teachers as possible, so they can get familiar with it,” Paul Papageorge, Sr. Director K-12 Marketing at Apple, told MacCentral. “As the transition and migration [to Mac OS X] happens they already have experience with Jaguar.”
Jaguar sold 280,000 copies since its release on August 24. Apple is forecasting that 20 percent of its installed base, or about five million people, will be using Mac OS X as their primary operating system by year’s end. Schools that decide to switch to Mac OS X will have to worry about integration of another OS into an existing older Mac environment, a Windows network or in some cases both.
“Mac OS X with its seamless networking is at home sharing files with Macs, including much older machines still running protocols like AppleTalk,” said Ken Bereskin, director of Mac OS Product Marketing. “Now with Jaguar being able to seamlessly integrate with Windows networks, including areas that are deploying district-wide infrastructures, Mac OS X brings a level of manageability and reliability that some schools have never seen.”
X for Teachers is a grassroots program to bring teachers back to Apple. The company dominated the education market for years, before losing marketshare to Dell Corp. Recent numbers from market research firm IDC show Dell with 34.9 percent of the education market, while Apple has 15.2 percent.
“The K-12 market is very special to Apple. If you take a look at the migration to Mac OS X, there are multiple elements to it — a key part of it is getting teachers up to speed with the key features of Mac OS X. That’s what this program is all about,” said Bereskin.