In a smart move, Apple is holding “boot camps” where educators “can learn firsthand that computers can be friend not foe,” columnist Charles Haddad writes in his “Byte of the Apple” column for
Business Week Online.
This summer Apple has offered Apple Teacher Institutes, a series of summer workshops designed to give teachers a hands-on technology experience highlighting the potential of digital media, mobile computing and the Internet. According to Apple, participating in an Apple Teacher Institute will help educators “maximize the effectiveness of your planning and instructional time, expand your expertise, engage an increasingly diverse student body, and discover new ways to individualize instruction.”
Haddad thinks the institutes are good ideas. He writes, “nearly 30 years after the advent of the Apple II, the first commercially successful PC, educators are still wondering whether the computer is friend or foe.”
“I see the ambivalence everywhere, even at my son’s high school. Located in a wealthy Atlanta suburb, it’s the top-ranking school in Georgia,” Haddad says. “Yet its graphic arts studio is powered by decade-old Macs running on OS 7.6, an operating system that hasn’t been on the cutting edge since my son was in kindergarten. OS 7.6 can’t handle today’s versions of Adobe and Quark software. Which means kids in my son’s school are learning yesterday’s graphics skills. The teacher recognizes the problem but can’t persuade the school to finance an upgrade to OS 9, let alone buy new Macs.”
In fact, the whole idea of a computer lab is as dated as his “record player,” he says. After all, inexpensive new wireless technologies, such as Apple’s AirPort, are liberating computers from the lab, Haddad says? So why do schools continue to lag a generation behind when it comes to computers?
“The answer, I’m afraid, is fear and ignorance,” the columnist opines. “Only 15 percent of K-12 teachers have received adequate training — considered to be a minimum of nine hours — in how to use computers and the Internet, according to a national commission. That’s like graduating high school without having to learn typing.”
That’s why he likes the idea of the Apple Teacher Institutes. The institutes, the last of which was held last week, were designed as a full residency program. Participants engaged in multiple projects and interacted with teams of other attendees.
“In the hands of a great teacher, a computer can do wondrous things, such as connect wirelessly to a Web site displaying live shots of the Great Wall of China,” Haddad says. “It’s just such digital magic that might hook a child long resistant to learning. And maybe, just maybe, a growing number of students and teachers will connect learning with the Mac.”