Are you a Mac or PC?

The one question that IT support staff (or anyone considered to be "computer savvy") consistently hear is "Mac or PC?" Unfortunately, this question is also all-to-frequently answered with one or the other, and the reasoning more often than not is defended with a religious zeal. I have heard just about every argument imaginable about why one entire platform is "better" than the other. Unfortunately, the arguments really aren't about the entire platform, but rather focus on a very special use-case scenario that will only affect a tiny number of people.

When I see the tools that most "bleeding edge" educators are recommending, they tend to be Internet-based services moreso than actual hardware or traditional software tools. Anyone reading this has, no doubt, heard the term "the cloud", and probably understands that the essence of "the cloud" is Internet-based services, most of which take the form of web-based applications.

Even when looking at actual hardware and software tools that are either commonly found in education or are recommended by educators, you will notice that they are, in most cases, available for or supported by either platform. SMART, Livescribe, iPad/iPods, and Microsoft Office come to mind here.

What is frustrating is that even those educators who encourage the use of Internet-based services are among those convincing others to "make the switch" to Macs. It is absolutely ridiculous to believe that someone who has always used Windows should purchase a Mac laptop, the least expensive of which is $1000, just so they can run web-based applications, PowerPoint, or SMART Notebook.

This is a list of the products and services that I have seen used, taught, or recommended in the educational environment in the last year. This is by no means an exhaustive list, because there have been so many web-based tools referenced in this last year I cannot possibly remember them all.
  • iPads / iPods
  • Google+, Docs, Sites
  • Microsoft Office (Word, PowerPoint, Excel)
  • Blogs (various)
  • Ning
  • pearltrees
  • timetoast
  • Skype
  • delicious
  • screenr
  • Prezi
  • SlideRocket
  • SMART (Notebook)
  • YouTube

There isn't a single item on that list that requires a Mac or a Windows machine specifically.

Although it may seem that I am arguing against purchasing Macs, I honestly am not. I would not try to convince someone to "make a switch". If you have always used Macs, then by all means, continue using them because you will be more comfortable using a Mac than trying to switch. If you have always used Windows, continue using Windows and don't buy into the "Mac is better" hype.

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