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On The Flip Side
by Michael Munger

We Need Macs In School For Discovery Sake!
June 29th, 1999

The whole debate about Mac computers and their presence in school is a hot one. One of the main reasons is the unfair competition from PC's because there is always a PC technician to convince a school board that the Wintel platform is the one to choose because everybody uses it. However, just how important is the Macintosh in school, if most people use PC's?

It is all about discovery. The presence of Macs in schools everywhere is one of the most important ways to find new users. Most people overlook this, and I think it is sad. I personally am a good example of this because I had my first contact with a Macintosh in college. I might be using a PC right now if I did not stumble on a couple of Macs at the time.

One who learns both Macs and PC's in school has more chances to adopt the Mac than if only PC's are present.

How to solve this?

Firstly, I think Apple has to make a bold move. MacWorld NY would be the perfect time and place to do this. An announcement in July would have a direct impact on the "back to school" period of the year. I think Apple should market its P1 as the portable for students. Apple should also do something about its presence in the education systems in Canada as well as the US.

Secondly, I think everyone who can afford it should take the opportunity to donate usable Macs to needy school systems. Fellow columnist George Wagner from MacSoldiers took that a step further when he donated an iMac to his daughter's school. Since then, I am sure a few kids had the opportunity to play with the iMac and find out what it can do. Maybe they love that simple user interface. Most people are not in a position to do something as big as buying a new Mac for a school, but older Macs, including models from the Quadra and Centris, up to that 9600 that is being replaced for a new G3 can find a lot of use in schools.

Thirdly, students themselves have to do something about it. If they know the Macintosh or want to know it, it is their duty to pester the people who buy computers for schools.

Fourthly, I will suggest something I have read in the past. Parents should do their part! They should tell educators and school boards that they want their kids to have a chance to learn to use both Macs and PC's.

All four of these points are aimed at Canada as well as the US. For that matter, for everyone in the world! If we all made our effort, from Apple to the end user, to make the Macintosh present in schools, I think we can achieve something. Face it. The Macintosh has faced a lot of stiff competition from PC companies itching to see the Mac fade from education. It is time to fight back.

Your comments are welcomed.

Michael Munger is a French Canadian living in Montreal. He discovered the Mac in 1994 while studying journalism, the profession he loves and practices. He also studied history and communications. In addition to his work at The Mac Observer, he authors the iBasics tutorial column at Low End Mac, and cofounded MacSoldiers in 1998.

You can find more about him at his personal Web site.

You are welcome to send me your comments or you can post them below.

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