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1-2-1 student laptop scheme - Mac or Windows

Discussion in 'Computing and ICT' started by madamefruschtuk, Nov 10, 2011.

  1. We are considering a 1-2-1 student laptop scheme and are researching into the pros and cons of staying with Windows, or switching to Mac. We have a Windows based network and could provide Windows laptops or Macbooks. What we're trying to work out is whether there's true value in providing Macbooks.
    Our main ICT suites contain Windows desktop machines along with a laptop trolley. We have a small Mac suite for the Music department and for use by pupils in the library. At present, students receive training in ICT from KS1 to KS5. The majority have Windows machines at home, as do staff (75%).
    An option is for us to develop a two year program for overhauling the
    entire provision, and become a Mac School, involving the changes to the
    network, software procurement, and the key issue - staff training. Cost of the laptops isn't a major issue as the parent body has agreed to purchase their child's laptop according the spec that we stipulate.
    It would be great to hear from anyone who has gone through a similar process - what were the key pros and cons that swayed your final decision - which way did you go in the end? Have you retained a Windows network along with the existing Windows suites and static classroom machines, yet enabled Macbooks to be used securely on that network? How have you locked down machines and kept students safe? How have you overcome the issues of mixing the two OSs on the network? If a teacher uses a Windows PC and the students are using Macbooks? If the same software application is being used, is there an issue? What technical support have you found was necessary? How many technicians run it? How did you manage the fundamentals e.g. power sockets to charge batteries when they die half-way through the day? What training was provided to a) staff, b) pupils, c) techinical staff?
    The key: Have you found any real benefits to learning from moving from Windows to Macs? In what way? Has teaching improved?
    Thanks in advance for you comments.

  2. Mac Pros:

    Reliability and stability of OS
    Ease of adding Apple made add-ons
    Virus free-ish (see below)
    Kids love them because the perceived exclusivity and trendy image

    Mac Cons:

    Spares horrendously expensive (£40+ for a keyboard, £600 for an iMac motherboard)
    Native MAC servers are pretty awful so you'll probably still be running server 2008 (see below)
    Lack of user reapairability. We know this as we've stripped an iMac, not fun.
    Integrated design means minor failure (e.g. webcam) = loss of whole unit for duration of repair
    Fewer software packages although the one's that they do have are usually pretty good and intuitive
    Apples definition of an educational discount is pathetic

    Windows Pros:

    Cheap, readily available hardware
    Easily repairable
    Windows 7 is stable enough to compare to Macs
    Shed loads of software
    If the kids own the machine and they want to play games, they'll want a PC
    Software discounts for students are excellent, i.e. MSOffice 2010 RRP - £300+ Student/Teacher edition £45

    Windows cons:

    Security software essential (can be got for free but best if you have a clue)
    Windows 8 - Seriously? If I want an OS designed for a phone, I'll buy a phone
    Software lock in. Once you're using an MS product, changing can be too hard to bother with

    Anyway, I'm writing this from my Core i7 PC running Debian Linux as I haven't run Windows since 1998 but we run Windows and Macs in the school for the simple reason of availability of curriculum software so I'm pretty agnostic on the PC vs Mac debate and don't get emotional about it.

    Personally, I'd go PC as on a practical level, they win hands down on pricing, software availability and if one breaks down it's 24hrs to order a new part from any one of thousands of retailers. As a parent, I'd also question why my school was trying to strong-arm me into spending 4 times as much as necessary on a laptop when I can get a perfectly good one for £300. Apple's implementation of authentication modules on their servers is also flawed so even if you go with Mac clients, WIndows or Linux servers are still the better choice particularly as virus writers are turning their eyes to Macs due to the increased popularity. This could still leave you buying CALs depending on the licencing of the servers.
  3. Maybe a bit biased here, but there goes.

    I would go Mac, we run a Mac system and its been nothing short of fantastic.

    Ok, agreed on a lot of the points above, but when we talk about engaging students then I think the Macs win hands down. They are so simple to use, they don't get slowed down with crapware, the orientation of them is very heavily towards the creative side of things and above all the hardware is fairly consistent year on year.

    If you go for PCs then your Y11s in 5 years time will be running dramatically different machines than the Y7s at that time.

    Whereas Macs tend to have a longer shelf life.
  4. What's this? A TES forum discussion on Macs vs Windows that's been up for more than 12hrs without turning into a slanging match?

    Just not trying anymore people.
  5. Thanks so much for your feedback so far - it's great to hear sound arguments for and against, without any of the usual emotional responses!
  6. Must agree,
    I reckon it didn't turn into a slanging match because it was such a great contribution
  7. ...that's not benrothwell's response I'm talking about of course; to my mind that was full of sweeping generalisations which are based on no evidence whatsoever.

    there we go......
  8. clickschool

    clickschool New commenter

    A good number of years back, students were sold macs - very expensive and the whole project was a complete disaster - mainly because no-one thought it through in terms of practicalities and application. Also expensive to repair.
    Personally I'd choose a PC platform owing to the ease of installation of lots of quality open-source software - this isn't to say the same isn't true of macs, just that I haven't come across quite so many apps. I would rate PCs as better value for money.
    If you do go down this route, just make sure that all of the implications have been fully thought through and it's not just technology for the sake of it.

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