Technology Requires Adaptability… and Anticipation

Categories: News, Philosophy
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Published on: March 13, 2012

Adaptation is tough for users. When I migrated teachers from aging Windows XP machines to Apple MacBooks, some of them had a tough time. Now we’re discussing tablets, BYOT options, iPad 1:1s, and similar emerging technologies, and it’s often met with moans and groans.

One person often asks “Why can’t we just stick with Windows?”

Well, that’s changing, too:

Whether we like it or not, we’re seeing desktop and mobile convergence coming from both Microsoft and Apple, and now we have the Android mobile OS in the mix, too. The industry is moving toward a more touchscreen-like, interactive model all around.

And that’s just on the surface! Data is moving from the file servers we’re familiar with to the Cloud and various services. The way these devices interact with our networks and the Internet is changing. Device and profile management is changing.

These things will all be second nature to our students over the next few years, because it will be all they know. If we don’t keep up, we’re going to look like dinosaurs.

The same goes for techs as well as staff. Wired reports a CompTIA survey says most IT guys are ignorant of current technologies. This is unsurprising to me, given I’m constantly having to learn while on the job. I had no formal IT education, but at the time I got rolling on networking we were still wrestling with Windows 98 SE clients and connecting to Windows NT 4.0 Server, both of which are thankfully a distant memory these days.

But adaptation is not enough.

We need to anticipate what’s next. Few believed the tablet market would return, but when the first iPad came out and Android tablets started to appear, savvy districts watched them closely. Now the market has taken off, and some are finding themselves already far behind as administrators start deploying iPad programs.

If our students see value in something, then we’d better be able to accommodate.

What’s Next, Apple?

Categories: Gadgetry, News
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Published on: March 6, 2012

It’s official: Apple’s white MacBook is no longer available for education. While many of my colleagues are upset because it was the last product with a real education discount behind it, I’m more curious about what’s coming next.

Remember the eMac? It’s about the time it died that we started seeing a 17″ iMac for education only, and not long after it died we had education pricing for MacBooks.

Translate that to a different pattern: desktops in static computer labs, then mobile lab carts and 1:1 initiatives. Sure, we had lab sets of iPod touches, but what’s Apple really pushing now? Tablets, baby. The iPad.

Apple has never made arbitrary decisions. There’s a long-term plan here, and we’re starting to see hints of what’s to come.

Consider the death of the Xserve. With the cloud—whether we’re talking Apple’s iCloud, Google Apps, MS Office Live, or services like Dropbox and Evernote—being touted as the place to store user data and consolidate it across devices, we may not need beefy servers much longer. It doesn’t take a lot of juice to run basic services like DHCP, DNS, and profile management. Apple appears to be telling us a Mac Mini running OS X Server will have all the juice most of us will need in the near future, and for everyone else there are the Mac Pro systems.

Consider the consolidation of tablet and desktop features: scrolling has been changed in Lion to mirror swiping on tablets, there are a whole slew of new touch manipulation features, and we have an App Store for laptops/desktops now. Tablets are taking off faster than most other technologies, whether we’re talking iPad, Kindle, Nook, or the various Android tablets. Tech-savvy users are supplementing their main machines with tablets, and non-techies are using them as simple email, web and entertainment devices. Even Microsoft has taken note of this, or they wouldn’t be redesigning Windows 8 on the desktop in a similar manner.

Consider the education event in January, including the announcements of textbooks in the iTunes Store (at $15 no less), iBooks 2 and iBook Author, and the new features of iTunes U and its expansion into the K-12 market. All new and exciting reasons for schools to take another look at the iPad.

This suggests to me there’s something big coming, and Apple is going to start pushing 1:1 programs from MacBooks to iPads.

To date, it’s actually the education market that’s been clamoring for iPads, not Apple “shoving them down our throats” as some claim. I think Apple is going to start making iPads a lot more attractive to schools who have been dismissing them due to the cost. It may be a smaller and/or cheaper iPad, it may be iPad 2s blown out at education pricing like the white MacBook. It might be expanded management tools, or some hot feature like a Siri tailored to education (including for enhanced text input).

Will we see this next big thing at tomorrow’s big Apple event? Hard to say, but I think there’s going to be something to make them more attractive in terms of pricing or value (or both) in the near future.

Mourn the white MacBook if you will, but keep looking forward.

The Warrior Dash and St Jude

Categories: Miscellania
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Published on: March 6, 2012

This summer I’ll be running in the Warrior Dash, a 5K race including several obstacles!

The Warrior Dash is a supporter of St Jude Children’s Research Hospital, a great organization which helps the families of children with cancer and other deadly diseases. St Jude has saved the lives of countless children, all without charging the families a dime. As such, groups like the Warrior Dash are a great benefit to St Jude.

Given I planned to run in the Warrior Dash anyway, I felt it would be a great idea to help raise funds for St Jude. Please visit the following link for more information:

www.mystjudeevent.org/oliveri

Even if you are unable to donate at this time, please help spread the word and share the link. Every little bit helps!

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