Macs in a school

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by trainguy77, Nov 22, 2008.

  1. trainguy77 macrumors 68040

    Nov 13, 2003
    I am in the process of planning the IT infrastructure for a new private school being built. We will be putting 4 labs in. I am considering making one of these 4 labs a Mac lab. Currently we have no macs so i don't know how much use they will get. We are a elementary and Jr high school. Your thoughts? I am not looking for fan boy comments either. :rolleyes:
    I want what will be best for the students.
  2. Sky Blue Guest

    Sky Blue

    Jan 8, 2005
    Fill them with iMacs and use boot picker to run any OS ;)
  3. six.four macrumors 6502

    Oct 24, 2008
    This is just be my opinion, but at the elementary - junior high level, I think it would be most practical to streamline and go without a mac lab. Unless there is a particular reason why you feel a mac lab is a compelling addition (I can't think of any), I don't think it is really practical or necessary - especially for kids that young. You'd also probably save a good chunk of change.

    I'm not sure what type of infrastructure you're planning to implement, but if it is anything more complicated than PC's working independently of each other, it would be more of a hassle to have to consider cross platform compatibilities and complications - of which the students would also need to consider.

    For ease, simplicity, and an overall more fluent infrastructure, I'd say stick with either all PC's, or all Mac's.
  4. mknawabi macrumors 6502


    Feb 5, 2006
    Irvine, CA
    Implementing macs wouldn't be hard, and since cost isn't as much as an issue, I think you should go for it. They will also have lower upkeep than the PC's.
  5. trainguy77 thread starter macrumors 68040

    Nov 13, 2003
    Cost is still an issue. If it went with having a mac lab i would want atleast one xserve to handle them. The only reason i could think of to get them vs all PCs is for video editing and having the experience of learning to use a Mac. But i just don't know if it can justify the cost of it.
  6. JG271 macrumors 6502a


    Dec 17, 2007
    I might sadly say that windows might be better. They're easier/cheaper to upgrade hardware wise and manage more often; as you say its best to have all of one kind.

    Plus, more software is available to windows including educational software and most students will be familiar with windows.

    For perspective, our school (11-18) has 5 windows labs and a windows room for the 6th form students. I'm lucky enough to use the music tech studio which has iMacs, and I use my macbook with the school's wireless.

    This post made me sad.
  7. topher01 macrumors newbie

    Jan 28, 2004
    San Diego
    Go for it.

    I'm an elementary school teacher with 10 years experience managing classroom computers in my room and my colleagues. We have a mixed school environment with old iMac G3s, G4s, a few newer iNtel Macs, Pentium 3 and 4 pcs running windows 2000 and xp and a few newer machines with Vista. I can tell you from experience that Macs are, by far, the easier to set up and maintain. (Computer labs are a bit like whore-houses as far as viruses... who knows where that floppy disk or memory stick or has been!).

    For the younger kids, most of the programs you will run are web or java based nowadays and there are a lot of great ways for teachers to implement the iLife programs. For example, I have my students use iMovie to record themselves reading aloud books for fluency using the Mac's built in microphone. After they are happy with the audio they add scanned pictures from the book that are stored in iPhoto, then add some royalty free audio tracks for background music, turn on the "ken burns effect" and, viola, they've produced a simple movie of the book a-la Reading Rainbow. The mini movie can be exported to iTunes and added to a play list for a reading/listening center. You can get rid of all your books on tape, audio cassettes are an anachronistic hassle anyways.

    In addition to the extra built in features the macs connect effortlessly to our file server, which is Windows based, and, if you need to run a Windows only program you can always dual boot.

    The bottom line is, the computer labs will be used only as much as the teachers decide to utilize them. The fastest, whiz bang computers won't matter if the staff is not motivated to plan and implement tech curriculum. Macs offer a wider range of creative options and will appeal to those teachers looking to do something out of the box. If you think this may fit your staff it's well worth the investment.

    Good Luck
  8. haze macrumors regular

    Nov 11, 2007
    I run a Mac lab, but at a high school. We have (2) Xserves (one for a Web server and one for OD) and (36) iMacs. Ever since I got them, about 18 months ago, teachers have wanted to convert another lab to iMacs. I have had my freshman create podcasts, short films, keynotes, etc. using their other classes for source of content. The multimedia capabilities to enhance social studies, language arts, and science are great.

    I focus more on my other non-freshman classes, partly because I hate freshmen, and we do Adobe CS3. However, we still use iMovie and I will be adding a Final Cut class.

    I collaborate and research other schools, including elementary and middle, and the benefits of iMovie can not be fully appreciated. I have seen projects where primary school students create news broadcast like they are during the revolutionary war, for example. Students learn when engaged and students today get engaged by using multimedia. An iMac lab with iLife, iWork, and the built in camera and mic are perfect for that. Plus, the iPhoto books, calendars, etc. could be great at the elementary level.
  9. Primejimbo macrumors 68040

    Aug 10, 2008
    My daughter is in 5th grade and her whole school uses Macs, and all the students seem to like them a lot. I talked to a teacher and she said they had PC's but started adding macs here and there and the students liked the Macs more and were easier to maintain. Now the school have nothing but Macs and even in the office they have Macs.
    I remember in grade school we used Macs and that was a few years ago lol
  10. DesignerOnMac macrumors 6502a


    Jul 23, 2007
    Since cost is an issue, and I do not know how many macs your need for 1 or 2 labs, have you contacted Apple to see what kind of education deals they will give you?

    Just a thought.
  11. zer0tails macrumors 65816


    Mar 23, 2008
    Just get 1-2 imacs or even a mac pro from the refurb store. These can be the design or media stations in the computer lab. I think that setup always works well.
  12. bunit macrumors regular


    Jul 14, 2007
    Westerly RI
  13. Sky Blue Guest

    Sky Blue

    Jan 8, 2005
  14. trainguy77 thread starter macrumors 68040

    Nov 13, 2003
    I would need about 30 machines per lab. I have not contacted them yet as its a ways down the road. I could put a request in for the budget when we break ground for the new building. But thats only if i decide to go that route.

    Thanks alot for the input more is always welcome. I think i am going to have to talk to the staff and see what they think.
  15. teflon macrumors 6502a


    May 28, 2007
    My elementary school was an all Mac school. It worked out pretty well. Us kids all loved Macs because the interface was "prettier" and "cooler". Macs are easier to maintain, there were never any virus problems and such with the Macs. It's also a lot cleaner because the iMacs only have 3 wires - power supply, keyboard and mouse. In high school, there's a mix - but all the students preferred the Macs because they worked better than the crappy Acers, and you can do more stuff with the Macs, especially since the school's too cheap to buy lots of extra software for the computers.
  16. haze macrumors regular

    Nov 11, 2007
    Also, I would serious look into Google Apps for Education and it is free. Even check some of the elementary school videos on youtube of some schools that have implemented it.
  17. minik macrumors 65816

    Jun 25, 2007
    Bellevue, WA
    My college uses both HP PC and Macs.

    For Macs, we have Mac OS X server on the xServe and use NetBoot (NetRestore) for image deployment.

    For PC, we use PXE boot and Altiris deployment server. We locked down the Windows boot drive with DeepFreeze.

    Deploying an image for the Mac is so much easier than Windows IMHO.
  18. MacsBestFriend macrumors 6502a


    Sep 6, 2008
    upstate ny (purgatory)
    my entire school district is hardcore mac and i think it is great to have imacs in a lab (like us) because they are great if the school podcasts, has a technology assignment (drafting in appleworks) and because apple gives great prices to schools. we also have a few mobile macbook carts and i think those are great to have for science (using logger pro in the classroom during an experiment) and for social studies (in class research). the mobile carts also eliminate traffic from the main labs.

    what i recommend (the school will probably have this anyway) is a school server. that way, students can change files from any computer in school. my school has a few old dells in the library and the school server allows me to edit mac and pc files.

    good luck!
  19. trainguy77 thread starter macrumors 68040

    Nov 13, 2003
    Yeah we are just using basic WDS to deploy our images. But we are cheap and it works for us. PXE boot is great. I would think macs would be easy to deploy as you won't get those driver issues.

    O yeah we have servers....more then one.:D You can slow down the counting when you pass 7....:rolleyes:
  20. Battlefield Fan macrumors 65816

    Battlefield Fan

    Mar 9, 2008
    personally I think you could offer a class to the 7th and 8th of final cut pro. They could take a basic course on how to take video and produce it and even how to create the dvd menu and how to piece together the different sections.

    I think the students could really create some stunning pieces. They also could be in charge of creating like a 8th grade dvd for a final project.

    So I would say yes. Also a photography class that uses aperture.

  21. SnowLeopard2008 macrumors 604


    Jul 4, 2008
    Silicon Valley
    I would use a Mac lab. Maybe you save some cash if you go PC, but with Macs, it's easier to maintain. You don't worry about viruses, or hardware problems as much as PCs. It's easier to update the software and the OS is much better IMHO. You can store an fresh copy of Leopard as an image and should a problem arise, copy that to the problem Mac. My school has a Mac lab in the library and it is simply awesome.
  22. Doctor Q Administrator

    Doctor Q

    Staff Member

    Sep 19, 2002
    Los Angeles
    I think the key is people, not hardware or software.

    1. Running labs requires technical skill for both setup and ongoing maintenance. The trouble and expense to maintain a support staff for both platforms on an ongoing basis could outweigh the benefits of giving students exposure to both platforms. You'd save time and trouble to establish one platform and stick to it. That could be either Macs or PCs.

    2. I think the emphasis for computers in schools should be on the teaching that uses them, whether it's Internet research, building up writing skills using word-processing, using computer-based tools to learn science and math, and so on. Software for doing this is available on both platforms. Students adapt easily and will probably learn as much on either platform.

    What ages or range of grades will your school cover? If they are older, it would be a bit nicer to offer them access to a variety of computer experiences, but even if they are high school age, computers will have advanced past what's available today by the time they finish college, so I wouldn't consider it especially important to mix your platforms simply to offer them more exposure to the computers currently on the market.

    I maintain a Mac-based computer classroom for a middle school, grades 6 to 8. We chose Macs because the teacher came from a Mac background (a former graphics professional) and because as the support person I could help the most with Macs. The software we use is Adobe's suite, plus web browsers, and lately we've been using M.I.T.'s Scratch application; all of these are cross-platform, so the decision was based on people, not platform tradeoffs.

    They say that total cost of ownership is about the same for Macs and PCs. It seems to be basically true; while the Mac purchase price may be higher, they come with more included software, are easier to maintain, and they tend to last longer since they are well made and come from a single manufacturer.

    We benefit from the ease of maintaining our Mac setup, with a Mac Pro running Mac OS X Server and iMacs for students. We keep home directories on the server, switched from netbooting to local booting this year (that's another tradeoff), and use Apple Remote Desktop for much of the software maintenance. We're glad we don't have to deal with malware issues regularly on our Macs (we do on the individual PCs in other classrooms).

    On the flipside, we suffer from less-good support from our school district, which puts most of its effort into Windows. Also, having to spend more up-front to set up a lab, and less for ongoing maintenance, is actually harder to fit into a steady-state school budget.

    Occasionally, we run into Windows-only software and haven't gotten the chance to use it, but if we went to the trouble we know we could use Windows under Bootcamp on our Macs.

    There's also the practical consideration that you have to "sell" your private school to prospective parents. Macs tend to look modern and have a wow factor, and that makes a great first impression. But we have parents who argue that kids need to use Windows because it's better job training, or that kids should use computers that match what they have at home, meaning we should give the edge to PCs. We can and do argue these cases on the merits, but it's a constant battle to defend the use of Macs to people with a negative bias.

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