(For those new to the column, Forward Migration is our term for companies moving from Wintel machines to Macs — or at least adding or increasing the number of Macs they use. A Forward Migration Kit is an overview of Mac OS products for a particular occupation, such as photography, optometry, etc.)
The Urban School, a 9-12th grade independent school in San Francisco, implemented Apple iBooks on a completely wireless network back in September and were apparently the first school in the country to use iBooks wirelessly on a system other than Apple’s Airport base stations. They used Lucent instead.
Now in its third year of iBook usage, the school has 71 iBooks on carts for use by 250 students. Plus, all faculty members have PowerBooks, also equipped with wireless cards. The Urban School’s program will expand dramatically next year when all the upcoming 9th and 10th graders (120 in all) enter with laptops, Director of Technology Howard Levin, told MacCentral. Hopefully, those laptops will be iBooks, but the final decision on what to purchase won’t be made until spring 2002.
The school has no hesitancy in using Apple technology, despite the common argument that Wintel systems dominate the business world so Mac using students are at a disadvantage.
“That is outdated and overused marketing hogwash, the kind of constant misinformation that continues to hamper Apple sales,” Levin said. “Students don’t use computers, they use software and the Internet. The platform is mostly irrelevant now. Cross-platform software is 95 percent identical on a Mac or PC, therefore our purchasing decisions are driven solely by who manufactures the very best laptop for our needs. For the past 3 years no one has come close to Apple in hitting the price, weight, battery life and integrated wireless features that we need.”
Levin said he’s not a “Mac fanatic.” He has both Macs and PCs at his home, but feels that Apple is “far beyond the rest of the pack” when it comes to making laptops for students. So far, the Urban School has been very happy with the iBooks and Apple technology.
“Wireless is transforming our thinking and use of laptops,” Levin said.
The Urban School has 256 students. It’s a private institution with a rich history as a progressive model for other schools throughout the country. However, Levin said it’s not “a tech focused school.”
“Our whole philosophy is towards ‘seamless integration’ and to ‘normalize’ the use of technology rather than to highlight tech use,” he said. “My personal goal is, in the long run, to eliminate all thinking about ‘labs’ and computers as specialty equipment, and to instead work towards making laptops simple extensions of one’s backpack.”
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