(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.)
Apple’s Airport wireless technology is a big hit with schools, as this week’s column makes clear.
A private school in Hawaii is using Apple technology, according to a Honolulu Advertiser
Ron Weaver, high school librarian at St. Andrew’s Priory School for Girls, is quickly becoming addicted after trying out the school’s new wireless network — so much so that he has ordered his own equipment so he can feed the habit at home, according to the article.
“This is the first laptop I’ve ever used,” Weaver said, referring to the iBooks that the school has provided faculty members and will issue to students next fall. “And now I’ve fallen in love with the silly things. And, because of the wireless thing, wherever I am in the school, I can function.”
St. Andrew’s has connected its campus computer network to a series of AirPort base stations. The laptops will be connected to the network (and to the Internet or any other service available by school computers) as long as they’re in signal range, according to the Honolulu Advertiser story.
By fall, when the sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders get the computers, the addition of another four or more stations should fill any ‘dead’ spots so the connection won’t be lost.
The impetus for the project was to avoid a huge tangle of wires in classrooms, which typically contain a dozen computers each, he added. In addition to the school’s Internet service, there is information stored in the computer network — collections of magazine articles used for research, for example — that students also will be able to reach wirelessly, Weaver told the Honolulu Advertiser. (Thanks to Yves Sakai for the heads-up on this one.)
Speaking of AirPort, technology educator, Hugh Peebles is impressed, as he writes in a Union Tribune
“I’ve witnessed entire classes accessing the Net, swapping files, exchanging ideas and collaborating on projects without the need for cumbersome wiring,” he writes. “Since each room in the school is wired, the possibilities are endless.”
Peebles said that, recently, when working in a typical computer lab (the type with hard wires), he was able to do something “that amazed the students and teachers.” Using an AirPort-equipped PowerBook, he was able to roam the two rooms of the lab, and assist and observe all the computers in the area. He used Apple Network Administrator to pull this off.
“Though I’ve had a cell phone for many years, I’m the type of gee-whiz observer who still gets a kick out them,” Peebles writes. “That said, I find the wireless network even more amazing. During my career as a teacher, and later as a supporter of educational technology, I’ve seen us go from black to green to white boards. Now I envision a time when no regular boards will be present at our schools; rather there will be large, interactive screens with teachers presenting materials, and students demonstrating knowledge by sharing multimedia presentations and films created during their studies. Apple is in the forefront of this exciting turning point.”
Okay, this next item isn’t Airport specific, but does involve our favorite computing company.
Dartmouth College will deploy a campus-wide wireless computing network by April 2001, giving students, faculty and staff the freedom to maintain access to the campus network or the Internet while making their usual trips around campus, without being tethered by wires. In announcing the network, school officials said it was due to support from “its alumni, Cisco Systems, Dell Computer, and Apple Computer.”
“Dartmouth has long had a reputation as a leader in computing, as well as in research and teaching, and will be the first among the Ivy League institutions to implement a campus-wide wireless network,” said Dartmouth Director of Computing Larry Levine. “This new technology will allow students and faculty to work on new applications and pursue new and exciting academic directions.”
What makes this project unique is its academic potential combined with the ease with which people will be able to access the wireless Net, he added.
“We’ve worked hard to make our wired network user-friendly and pertinent to education,” he said in a statement. “We expect the wireless Net will be just as friendly as our wired network, will extend current educational uses of our wired network, and will provide unique wireless applications as well.”
Some of the possible academic applications include:
Smart classrooms where professors can broadcast presentation materials to each student’s laptop in class, and respond to individual and group questions posed electronically
Researchers can collect and analyze data from remote locations and receive instant feedback for collection parameters.
Students can monitor class or laboratory projects from anywhere on campus, checking computer system status, observing biological or chemical equipment, or monitoring other instruments.
The plan for the campus-wide system calls for more than 400 access points featuring Cisco Systems’ latest generation of Aironet networking gear, allowing students, faculty and staff a network experience from any part of the campus. After equipping their laptop or handheld computers with wireless network capability, users will be able to access network services such as e-mail and the Web — as well as a host of location-based services currently being developed by Dartmouth faculty, staff, and students. The wireless infrastructure is based on the Cisco Aironet Series of IEEE 802.11b compliant wireless local area networking products.
So where does Apple fit in? All new Macs are, of course, are wireless-equipped devices. Dartmouth is working closely with Apple, Cisco, and Dell to test new hardware and drivers. They’re also working with these companies to test software under development and create compatibility between components, according to Levine.
Requests for help
It’s time for our weekly requests for help from folks who need your advice and/or assistance in forward migrating — or at least being able to keep the Mac platform alive and thriving in their businesses. Contact the requesters directly at their e-mail addresses.
Wheat Williams (
): “I have an American friend with a PowerBook G3 in the People’s Republic of China. He uses the English Mac OS. He works with a team of people, all of whom use Microsoft Windows and Office 2000. Word 2000 for Windows (the American edition, apparently) includes built-in support for making documents in Chinese.
” My friend needs to create Chinese Word documents on his Mac that he can swap with his colleagues. He hasn’t purchased Microsoft Office 2001 for the Macintosh. With OS 9, will this provide the solution? If Microsoft Word 2001 for Macintosh has the same Chinese features as Microsoft Word 2000 for Windows, my friend will retain his Mac and buy Office 2001 for Mac. If it does not, my friend will be forced to abandon his Mac and buy a Windows machine in order to run Microsoft Word 2000 for Windows. Emulation with Virtual PC just isn’t cutting it for him.
“There is ZERO information on Chinese support in Microsoft Word 2001 for Macintosh on the Microsoft Web site. Can someone tell me the specific details about Chinese support in Microsoft Word 2001 for Macintosh? Otherwise, the world will lose one more very loyal Mac user!”
Robert Zimmerman (
): “I am a special education teacher in a suburb of Houston. Many of our disabled students are whizzes on the computers that we supply them with. However, I have a 7th grade student who is wheelchair bound and wants to write a paper on Windows 98 vs. the Mac OS. Any input or recommendations on Web sites that he could visit for more info would be very helpful.”