Apple bounces back;Letter

14th May 1999 at 01:00
James Whitehead makes a number of points that will infuriate many teachers. We are not "naive" - many of us consider ourselves ICT professionals. Indeed, many of us were IT professionals before becoming teachers.

Anyone in regular contact with both major platforms cannot but be impressed by the Mac's ability to aid teaching and learning, especially on a network. Have you tried to teach ICT on Microsoft's Windows NT? Using AppleShare, I can configure my network easily, demonstrate over the network, observe children working from my machine, speak to them over the network and take control of a machine, if needed, to reinforce a skill. I am unable to do this using Windows NT - it might be great in industry but not in the classroom.

Software for education - we are not in industry, so what relevance is VisualReal Basic? - is generally available on the Mac as well as Windows. A very large proportion of education software is designed on Macs and then ported to Windows. Mr Whitehead must be aware that Macs can run more software than Windows machines, and often faster too.

He should also be aware that Macs run Microsoft Office - all files are cross platform compatible. Microsoft employees have told me that Office on the Mac runs better than on Windows, as does the most recent incarnation of Explorer.

The argument that Windows is industry standard does not stand up to scrutiny. When the children I teach leave school, none of the current industry standards will be around. We teach ICT skills to children and use ICT to aid learning - ease of use is the key. They don't have to learn application-specific skills.

The last nail in the coffin of Mr Whitehead's argument is in his own words. He states that "PCs are cheap... and will probably be obsolete in a year". He also states that PCs are "not based on the best processor or operating system". So should we really subject schools to second-rate machines with a second-rate system that will be obsolete in a year?

I run a nine-year-old Mac in my class on a network. It can access the Internet and run all the applications I need at acceptable speeds. PC vintage machines were consigned to the skip years ago. So which machines are cheaper in the long run?

David Baugh, Teacher and ICT Professional, Denbigh, North Wales

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