Tag Archive for laptopprogram

iPad and Laptop Program Guide

Herewith, please find a guide to the new U Prep iPad and laptop program, written for families. It describes the program in detail, including device guidelines. I am really excited about the quality of our preparations this year. Faculty members have been actively experimenting with and thinking about new uses of student devices, particularly tablet-based computing.

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iPad and Laptop Program Guide

Mac Viruses Arrive

The antivirus software on my Mac recently detected the following virus, which is actually harmful to Macs as well as other platforms. Could this mean that schools and home users will no longer get away with not installing antivirus on Mac systems?

Cases Cracked!

Apple’s flimsy cases have caused us grief again. Out of our 280 student machines, we are sending 60 to Apple for case repair. Pictured below are half of the boxes and some of the computer being prepared for mailing. You can imagine how long it takes to complete the paperwork and mail 60 boxes. Meanwhile, the students do not have their computers.

Here is an example of case cracking. It’s important to send these for repair now, because Apple covers the repair if the cracking only appears on the edge. If the crack spreads around the corner, then Apple consistently claims it was dropped and charge for the repair. Our students take the blame for normal handling of their computers in a school environment.

Is the MacBook Pro aluminum unibody case better? After one year, we have seen almost no case damage due to cracking, not surprising given that it is made of thick aluminum. However, check out this nasty crack along the flimsy plastic hinge cover!

“Technology to be in every room”

Here’s yet another Smart Board love affair. One-third of district classrooms had a Smart Board, so the district decided to install a Smart Board and projector in all classrooms. I would like to know what decision-making process led to this $2m expense. What if only one-third of the teachers used the technology effectively? How do these devices help students actively learn?

If we could give every student a computer, we would,” said Rick Green, director of information technology for the 24,000-student district. “This is as close as we could get.

Smart Boards enable a teacher to organize and present content visually. Computers allow students to engage with and produce content. Surely small classroom laptop sets would have come closer to the expressed ideal?

Technology to be in every room

How fragile is the new MacBook?

Update January 3, 2010: It’s been over a year since the unibody MacBook was released, and I am pleased to report that they have held up very well! We have seen far fewer instances of case and hard drive damage than with the white MacBook model. Good work Apple, and please remember this in future redesigns!

I continue to wonder at the gulf between the needs of our student laptop program and Apple’s recent laptop releases. No kidding, they have won the heart of our kids, what with 80% of incoming ninth grade students choosing Mac over Lenovo both this year and last. At the same time, we have seen hardware repairs go way up, as kids drop the Macs, and they crack, dent, and break. I am a solid Apple enthusiast, but I also run a school technology program with pretty reasonable needs.

In recent years, we have cautioned parents and students away from the Aluminum MacBook Pro. Aluminum is a soft metal (it makes great foil and not so good jewelry). Most of our students (and teachers) who have the aluminum laptop have suffered dents and warps, some of which have increased stress on internal components and caused them to fail.

Now we have no plastic Mac to sell (at least once Apple’s inventory of white MacBook is exhausted). I recognize that the new aluminum case is cut from a solid piece of aluminum, but how will it withstand impacts? Will it still dent and ding? Will the hard drive, located right at the corner, take the brunt of the blow? I want to see crash test ratings!

The new glass screen face is another point of concern. We already experience cracked plastic screens, and now it’s covered by a layer of glass?

glass screen

Let me be clear. This is not our students’ fault, but their families get to foot the bill. If I had to move my computer from room to room ten times a day, mine would probably also get dropped or stepped on as well. Congrats to Apple for producing a machine likely to win the hearts of home users, graphic designers, and college students. That’s not enough for our students. We need toughness, too. Why won’t Apple produce a school-appropriate laptop?

Our “Mac tax” is currently $300. Families pay that much more to purchase a MacBook compared to a similarly equipped ThinkPad T61. The ThinkPad is more solid and comes with both a four-year warranty and accidental damage protection for the price. For the MacBook we start with a higher base price, pay a premium to get a four-year warranty that you can’t buy in stores, and then charge another fee to fund a limited, school-sponsored accidental damage protection program.

As the economy tightens, families are not going to accept this different much longer. We may end up with two tiers of laptop purchase, a Mac for those who can afford it, and a ThinkPad for those who want a tough machine for the money. I’m glad that my son is only in first grade.