By this time next year, Mac OS X should have a large presence in schools, Cheryl Vedoe, Apple’s vice president of education, told MacCentral in an interview today. She also spoke of the company’s education strategy, the value of Apple products beyond total cost of ownership and more.
Educational budgets sometimes keep schools from upgrading to the latest hardware. As a result, some educational vendors have told MacCentral that their plans to Carbonize applications have been undetermined because they want to keep their system requirements as undemanding as possible. We asked Vedoe whether this meant a slow migration of K-12 institutes to Mac OS X. She admitted that the educational market didn’t move as “aggressively and quickly” to the new operating system as many other markets. However, she didn’t think the move to Apple’s next generation operating system would be slow.
“We’re encouraging educators to start now, and continue during the upcoming school year, to become familiar with Mac OS X and begin putting their transition plans in place,” Vedoe said. “We’re working with vendors as well, so that when schools began making the move to the operating system, the software is there.”
She said that as educators work with Mac OS X and see the benefits it offers to educators — robustness, ease of use, multiple user support, protected memory, server capabilities, and more — they’ll be increasingly interested in shifting to the operating system.
“We feel confident that this time next year, you’ll see a majority of educational applications ready for Mac OS X and see many schools in a good position to make the transition,” Vedoe said.
She added that Mac OS X continues the role that Apple has always played in education and computing in general: innovation. Students who use innovative technology are better prepared for the modern world where technology changes every day, she said.
“I had an interesting conversation with an educator who commented that students who use Macs in schools are better equipped for technology in the workplace, because technology is always evolving and Apple is always leading in innovation,” Vedoe said. “We’re taking the lead again with Mac OS X. It takes ease of use to new levels. When Apple looks at technology in education, we look at how that technology can be used in the classroom to facilitate teaching and learning. Educators shouldn’t have to spend a lot of time on the technology itself.”
Misused and underused technology in the classroom is worth little. Apple, with its long history in the educational marketplace, concentrates on how its products can be used for student achievement, to create a more inspiring learning environment and “bring learning to life,” Vedoe said. The company also understands that teachers are the “linchpin” to the success of technology in the classroom, she added. That’s the reason the company offers resources like the Apple Learning Exchange and this summer’s Teacher Institutions, she added.
“Our focus is to help teachers learn how to make the most effective use of technology in the classroom every day and how to take advantage of technology to meet individual student needs,” Vedoe said.
Apple has long focused on student and teacher needs, but with the purchase of PowerSchool, the company is beefing up its services for administrators. With PowerSchool, Apple saw a chance to provide administrators with a technology solution to help them be more effective, Vedoe said.
“When we go into districts that are using PowerSchool, we find that it’s having a significant effect on administrators who manage schools. It’s providing quick and easy access to data and information to help them make critical decisions. However, it’s also impacting parents, who are becoming increasingly involved in the schools. It’s affecting students; in many cases, they’re taking more responsibility for their own education. It’s helping teachers, who are being freed from some of their mundane administrative tasks to focus on the heart of education: teaching.”
While past studies have shown that Apple products offer a better value in total cost of ownership, the company wants educators to go beyond this and look at “TVO,” the total value of ownership. Schools are spending a significant amount of money on technology and should be asking what sort of return they are truly getting on these investments, Vedoe said.
“From an educational perspective, we believe schools should look beyond the technology matrix and ask if the technology is supporting learning and helping students obtain critical skills and 21st century skills that will prepare them for the workplace of tomorrow,” she said.
Vedoe said Apple was “extremely pleased” with the response to its products and services at this week’s National Educational Computing Conference (NECC) in Chicago. The booth traffic has been strong, the teacher sessions well attended, and the presentations by over 20 ADE (Apple Distinguished Educators) well received, she said. The Apple Learning Center — an on-floor “classroom” with mini-courses on Mac OS X, iTunes and iMovie — has been a hit, as well, she added.
“We’ve done workshops before, but this is the first time we’ve done anything like this on the show floor,” Vedoe said. “Some teachers sat through all three sessions. Plus, a high percentage of those attending the Learning Center presentations are not Mac users, and we think that’s significant.”
And for those who think that Apple’s dominance in the educational field is over, Vedoe would have them think again.
“We’re dedicated to helping children reach their full potential,” she said. “At Apple, education is in our DNA.”