What's your connection speed?

A recent comment about Mac or PC in schools has cut my sleeping short the past two nights.

That sounds like a great help to your colleagues. Our school has all macs – the entire district actually. Some of the people that have come from industry have brought up the point that by using macs we are not preparing our students for the workforce (even though there are so many neat applications on them). What do you think? (N.D.)

What do I think?

I think if we are worried about the OS of the machine we’re focusing on the wrong part!

If we are teaching kids an OS and specific software and not skills then that is the disservice to our students!

Example: We teach students how to create and compose audio files. We teach elements of sounds and communication via audio and how to share that recording with a global audience.

Can you name the software that was used to meet this outcome? Does it matter? Or will the students be able to take that skill and apply it to other audio software in the future?

I cannot count the number of times I have been asked if I’m a PC guy or a Mac guy. My answer: neither or both, it doesn’t matter!

Computers are just the gateway to information. Before computers it was the newspaper and magazine, before that town hall meetings and town squares, and before that the camp fire and story telling ceremonies.

It’s not the actual place that brought people together; it was the people there that brought people together. You go there (or went there) because that’s where people were giving out information. You get a newspaper because that’s where information is given. You watch (or watched) the 6:00 news because that’s where information is (was) given.

You get on a computer because that allows you to access information.

My 7th grader two years ago said it best “What did you all do with computers if the Internet wasn’t around yet?”

If schools are still wondering if they should be PC or Mac…..my answer is to just be something! Just make sure it connects to the Internet!

Computers today more than anytime before are the gateway to the real information of the world. We go there because that is where the people are who have the information. We go there because that’s where everyone else is. Why Twitter? Because that’s where everyone is! Why Facebook? Because that’s where everyone is.

Of course Clay Shirky does a much better job of explaining this in Here Comes Everybody. But if we’re still debating PC or Mac then we’re still asking the wrong questions.

Yes the Mac has cool tools already built in but there isn’t anything I can do with a Mac that I can’t do with a PC. Open-Source Software has leveled the playing field. In fact, I found it interesting to see how many people in my earlier post recommended using Audacity on a Mac. I thought Garage Band was supposed to replace that?

We need to understand that it’s the network we need to worry about. We should be asking ourselves what’s better a 10MB connection or a 100MB connection. We should be focusing on what a computer allows us to do today in the 21st Century. Write, read, connect, think, share, collaborate, create, analyze, evaluate, compare, etc.

Don’t ask me if I’m a Mac or PC guy. Ask me what my connection speed is!