Anyone who ever uses a computer has probably thought about the question: Mac or PC? While consumers can make their decision based on personal preferences, schools and school districts must carefully weigh the pros and cons before making purchasing decisions. This essay will address the pros and cons of both systems in evaluating their ability to meet educational needs at a comprehensive high school.
Regular High School (RHS, not real name) is a comprehensive high school serving the needs of approximately 1500 students in grades 9 through 12. It is the only high school in a K-12 district, located in a varied community. The community ranges from low-income to moderately wealthy, but over half of the students at RHS qualify for free or reduced lunch. While RHS has achieved some academic success, it has struggled to make AYP within several subgroups. RHS currently has one desktop computer in each classroom and five computer labs, all of which operate on the Windows operating system. RHS employs approximately 125 teachers, who have varied levels of skill and comfort in using technology. Although few teachers hate technology, few fully embrace it, and the majority incorporate technology on occasion. The RHS school building is also home to an area career center that offers students from both RHS and the wider community classes in a wide variety of career options, including business, criminal justice, and nursing.
A comprehensive high school has to meet a wide variety of educational needs. Students in math classes need engaging ways to practice math, while students in science need ways to collect and analyze data during experiments. Students in art class have a need for better graphics, faster processing speed, and large amounts of memory in creating computerized design projects, while students in business classes need to practice using specialized software used by business professionals. In English and social studies classes, students research, write, read, and create multimedia projects. Students in music and speech classes need a way to record their practice performances so that they can self-critique and improve over time. Teachers need ways to motivate students to learn, keep them engaged, while not creating classroom management nightmares or spending hours creating materials for one lesson.
The biggest technology complaint at RHS is access. With only 5 computer labs available, and no laptops, netbooks, or tablets available for checking out, it can be a challenge to schedule time for your class to have access to the technology needed for an activity or project. While it is great to have a computer in every classroom, the fact that it is only one computer, located on the teacher’s desk, means that the teacher, not the student, is the primary user. RHS also has bandwidth issues that can prevent easy access to online resources with large file sizes, especially streaming videos. YouTube access is limited to a few users at a time throughout the...