Sunday, October 28, 2007

Multimedia learning environments - Mac versus PC? or I'll have the deep and rich new learning, please.

This is a pivotal point in my life - ya know, the "two roads diverged in a wood" kinda thing.... Sixteen years ago I went from a Mac to a PC and never looked back. That is until I started learning about Web 2.0 and meeting people associated with this more multimedia oriented learning community.

My reflections on the pedagogy being used to engage students using digital tools has helped me appreciate implications of a new profile of student learners has for instruction. Aussie Judy O'Connell in her blog, Hey Jude: Fortunate Discoveries about Web 2.0 ..... does a fine job describing the learning characteristics of our students in an October 12, 2007 post she appropriately titled Digital kids - learning their own way.

multimedia literacy;
discovery-based learning;
bias towards action;
staying connected;
zero tolerance for delays;
consumer/creator blurring;
social networking.

Now you say what do these characteristics of our students-as-learners have to do with choosing a Mac or a PC? Let me continue that story.

Since switching to a PC, I have been tweaked by Mac users along the way; they are a loyal bunch! My daughter and son-in-law have always been Mac people because of their work in graphics and web design. My son and I have an interest in photography, and his use of a Mac for his pictures was always in contrast to my use of a PC for mine. When I asked Chris Betcher for his opinion of Macs, he did not want to influence my thinking unfairly, but he did admit that when working in a multimedia environment, he liked the Mac. John Pederson (alias ijohnpederson) is currently my scout leading the way into Apple's new operating system, Leopard. John, thank you for your helpful twits and posts on the subject. What do you think I learn from an educator who goes by iJohn?

The choice I need to made has gradually become clear to me. Given my commitment to K-12 leadership and learning, I can't accept the pedagogical orientation that refuses to adjust to the learning characteristics of the students we teach. When I add to that the realization that our culture, our economy, indeed, all facets of our way of life are headed in directions that parallel and most likely fostered the digitally oriented students who want to learn in their own way, the dilemma is clear. On one horn of the bull is a traditional orientation to student-as-learner which for me is associated with the more pragmatic oriented PC; on the other horn is the Mac. Granted, the PC world has arguably tried to keep pace with the shift that is occurring, but the Mac seems for me to have been associated with that shift for some time. Now, that perception may be nothing more that successful marketing associated with how the Mac has been branded, but I have arrived at my decision for another reason.

Learning for me is good. It stimulates my mind and keeps me feeling young and connected to the organic flow of life. I have found the most stimulating environment for my learning has been to embrace risk, to intentionally sever the orientation that provides me my current sense of security. For me, as I pursue a journey into "fortunate discoveries about Web 2.0," personally moving to a Mac just seems right. The disorientation and ambiguity I will feel as I make the transition will, at times, be frustrating in its own right, and I will reach out for "just in time" help that may or may not be available just in time, but isn't that how many of our students feel or experience the learning in our classrooms - some more often than others? Is there a better way for us to empathize with our students? Is there a better way for me to honestly position myself to need authentic student help? If you are bright, well-informed and successful educator, but can not embrace the disorientation and ambiguity associated with deep and rich new learning, how can you see yourself as a leading learner, someone who models for students what it takes to experience learning in significant ways? The dilemma is resolved....

Here I come Apple, don't let me down!


Chris said...

You'll get no argument from me... I love my Mac, although I know that many people enjoy their Windows computers so I try to remain as neutral as I can. (everyone who knows me, you can stop giggling now!)

Personally, I can feel my frustration levels rise whenever I have to go back (down?) to Windows.

Started with an Apple, had several of them over the years, but for too long got caught up in the "its what the world uses so I better use one too". Now, I don't give a rat's what the world does. I just want the best computer I can own, one that let's me work the way I need to work, one that works with me not against me.

Don't wish to start an OS war, but there it is. I don't need to be a fanboy, people just need to see what my Mac can do, and they end up getting one for themselves... I want what he's having. :-)

John Pederson said...

Precisely where I was about 2 1/2 years ago.

I cut my teeth on Macs back in the mid to late 1990's, but switched when I became the IT Director in a district that was 100% PC. I spent 6 good years on the other side and was quite loyal.

I listened to the passion of the Mac faithful, and when 10.4 (Tiger) was release, I felt the pull. It was more of a learning thing for myself...a challenge to hopping over my own barriers. I purchased a big G5 desktop and instantly fell in love again on the Mac.

Partially by the OS design (they are just fun to use) and partially because I challenged myself, I found myself computing more creatively.

6 months later, I *needed* to get a PowerBook so that I could be mobile. I strategized the justification I'd use with my wife. She asked "If you get that, what do *I* get?" I said "What do you want?" "You to finally schedule and get that vasectomy." I scheduled the appointment and ordered the PowerBook 10 minutes later.

Mac fanatics are strange. I really don't like "going there", but it really is a completely different experience. I absolutely love using this machine, just like 2 years ago.

Arthus Erea said...

For years, I was a PC user myself. However, when I started really getting into web design and development, I figured it was time to go the Mac way. Therefor, I saved up for a year and finally bought my 15 inch MacBook Pro this August.

I've never looked back (down?). I love my MBP and use it all the time.

Dennis Richards said...

Well Chris, John and Arthus, thanks for the encouragement. I'm calling the Mac Sales Rep to see what I can do.

I agree that it's not an us versus them. I plan to keep my Dell work laptop and home desktop working and purchase the MBP for multimedia and mobility and everything else I mentioned in the post.

Now, what software?????

Judy O'Connell said...

I use a Mac and a PC every single day of my life....because of the various places I've worked, and because my organisation at this point in time at least, is still multi-platform. But Hey! I love my Mac. Always have! My problem is that I just don't get to use it enough! (writing this on a PC!)

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