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Technology and the New Teacher: Mac vs IBM

About this Daily Classroom Special
Technology and the New Teacher is designed to introduce you to the topics, successes, and pitfalls of technology in the classroom. It was written by Buzz Eyler, a Teachers Network web mentor who has been leading in-service training in technology use for the past 12 years.  

(Note: This page was written in 1999. Some information may be dated.)

Mac vs IBM

Back in to old days (1990) the unknown of which way is my district going, Mac or IBM, was an issue. This is not the case now. More likely, it is an issue that you have one platform at home and another at school.

What you need to understand is that both are just a way to display programs for you and/or your students to use. Each has an interface which allows you to start programs, use them, save and print the data. The concepts are the same: the looks are different. Let's deal with the Mac first. When Apple developed it, the powers that be said, "Every program will use the same menu structure, sound files, graphics formats, and generally operate the same." Therefore, when you use one program, its display on the screen is basically the same as any other. If you use one program on the Mac, the key combinations and menu items will be similar. Oh, and by the way, you can name files almost anything you like.

IBM and IBM clones took a different strategy. The early days of disk operating systems (DOS) allowed for a naming convention of 8.3: eight characters separated by a period and three more characters. And all was done with cryptic text: no pictures like the Mac. And developers were free to develop almost any program structure they liked. Then came Windows which gave users a picture of the cryptic DOS structure. Now we have access to Windows 95 which abandons much of the old DOS structure, requires common program features and allows up to 256 characters in a file name.

With Windows 95--now renamed Windows 97--and a powerful enough machine, most of the programs look the same, the attached devices (printers, scanners, etc.) all work using the same menu commands and file structure.

So what do your really need to know? No matter which machine you are using, find out how to start programs, create something for use in you classroom, how to save it and change it for later use, how to add programs and how to get rid of old files. Also, as I said in an earlier section, demand upgrades. Don't get every new program that comes out, but demand a machine that will do what you need to do to get students to use it as a tool for their learning. Otherwise, you might as well just assign workbook pages. 

Advanced Topics
Curriculum Development
Mac vs IBM
Printers & Copiers
Word Processing


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