One of the nice things about being an early riser is that it doesn’t bother me to schedule a doctor or dentist appointment first thing in the morning. Of course, everything is computerized and so in a couple of recent trips, I watched and the receptionists/clerks would come into the office, turn their computers on and then go about doing a bunch of other things. I asked both of them about this and the response was the same – “I don’t have time to waste watching this thing start”. I took a peek and one machine was Windows 7 and the other Windows XP. It really was minutes of waiting for booting before they were able to log in and get started.
I remember doing the same thing at our professional learning labs. For a workshop starting at 4pm, I’d be there at 3:30 to boot the machines and have things ready to go when the teachers would show up. More often than not, they would show up a bit early to check email because the rigours of the job prohibit it during the school day. That’s totally understood so I wanted the computers to be ready. After all, they were giving up family time for their own learning.
I had a correspondence with a colleague recently who indicated that they had both iPads and Windows 7 computers at their elementary school. The Windows computers were virtually abandoned because of the time that it takes to boot, login to the active directory, solve password problems, etc. In essence, the iPads were of greater use because they were almost instant on and away you go with your lesson. Time is such a precious commodity in the classroom and so sitting there waiting causes all kinds of delay in instruction, not to mention the things that bored, busy fingers get in to.
I do the same thing myself. This computer is dual boot to Ubuntu and Windows. With Ubuntu, I can turn it on and be functional within a minute or two. With Windows, I will start the process and then have breakfast or walk the dog and then come back and hopefully everything is ready to go. As you might imagine, I don’t do that often but on days like this, I’ll have an urge to use Windows Live Writer which is just an excellent blogging tool.
So, it was with real interest that I read about Doug Johnson’s technology implementation plan in this post “Out of the lab, off the cart, into the classroom“. I was particularly intrigued by his move and rationale for a movement to Chromebooks.
I think that we all recognized that Windows and Macintosh computers with their full-blown set of features for business were overkill in the classroom. A friend of mine was fond of the expression “giving phasers to cavemen”. As so much more is available through the web, having all the horsepower in the world in front of you isn’t all that necessary anymore. Even your basic productivity suites are available in a web version so having a full blown desktop is becoming a luxury and a niche product. Computer Science and Business Education come to mind but an argument for taking them to an appropriate network solution could be made as well.
So, is the writing on the wall?
Apple has certainly taken their education solution into a different direction. I recall standing on the stage at the recent Bring IT, Together conference and looked out to the audience. I saw so many of the trademarked Apples shining back at me. Over the course of the three days, I saw one Surface and it was in the hands of a committee members who worked in an IT Department and not teaching.
It’s only a few school districts that have ventured into a full blown implementation of Windows 8. I think that the make or break moment will come in 2015 with the release of Windows 10. I do recognize that Microsoft’s core clients are business and Windows 10 will have to handle their needs. But, millions are spent on gear for the K-12 market. Their needs, which include reducing wasted time at the keyboard, have to be addressed.
Otherwise, you’ll find progressive boards following Mr. Johnson’s lead or other boards using the alternatives that are provided for them.