Managing Macs & PCs in Online Courses (CHE)

October 26, 2015
When I was in middle school, the lab was filled with Apple computers, including very early versions of iMacs. I worked with the school’s resource teacher and helped out with hardware in the labs, and we continually argued over the merits of Mac versus Windows PC. Macs were winning out in schools due to a push on educational software and their relative ease of maintenance, while PCs offered an ease of upgrading and access to a world of software rarely ported onto Mac’s smaller market share. I naively assumed then that Macs would eventually disappear, or that the division would become less significant, with software easily running across the two operating systems.

Fast forward two decades later: the Mac and PC divide still exists. The days of the “I’m a Mac, I’m a PC” ad have passed, but the divide between operating systems in software, interface, and aesthetic is still extensive. I remain personally entrenched in the Windows and PC camp thanks to the better support for gaming and development software. Yet I’m writing this post on a Mac thanks to a trend towards favoring Apple products at my institution. When teaching on-campus, the Mac or PC decision is usually made for me: a computer lab will be equipped with one or the other, and students in courses that involve digital production can be relied upon to have access to those labs. This in turn determines what software I use to teach a course, and provides a valuable consistency of access. However, teaching online presents many more challenges, particularly when integrating any projects that involve u

About Ryan C. Fowler

Ryan is a curricular fellow at the Center for Hellenic Studies in Washington D.C. He also teaches at Franklin and Marshall College and Lancaster Theological Seminary.
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