My wife became a Mac user when it was time for her to get a new computer. I wasn’t surprised that she bought a MacBook Pro after hearing her make comments about Windows adverts on the television. It went something along the lines of “Yeah, and you copied that from the Apple!“ Obviously she had already seen me enjoying using my Mac and being more productive with it, following my switch to the Mac. She does love using the MacBook Pro, she is very impressed with the high quality of the product. There have been many comments about the ease-of-use of many of the applications also. So I think it is just fine and dandy at home while she is creating Keynote presentations and other documents using Pages.
The problem comes when she is at school and under pressure to complete a task quickly and efficiently. Maybe she only has a short amount of time in which to get a document edited slightly and printed. On account of the fact that the school is all Windows and if you want to print something you have to go to a Windows computer. The printer that is connected to a Windows network, is not connectable to, through the Wi-Fi in the school. It can’t be seen while connected to the Wi-Fi using the iPad. Oh, did I mention that she is now also using my iPad 1, now that I have the latest new iPad.
A Slider is a Mac User that has to use Windows at work, Sliding between Mac and Windows
Much of teaching in many schools is stuck in the last century of teaching, due to a lack of funding in education. Maybe students have a laptop, probably they have a smart phone or even an iPod Touch, but the classroom technique can’t make use of this technology. If all of the students brought in their Wi-Fi devices to use as part of their lessons, then without a doubt the Wi-Fi network would not be able to support that. It is no wonder that teachers would still rather students work with pen and paper, because this is always going to work even if it is just analogue.
In the interest of moving forward and trying to make use of technology as much as possible, I would think along the lines of using the tech available, but having an analogue backup plan. I get the impression though, that many teachers would rather stick with the analogue ways of doing things because they know it and trust it. I can understand this being prevalent due to the pressure of having to perform in front of an audience. You don’t really want to be struggling and looking a bit of a twit, with tech stuff, that the students are probably already completely down with. We are in the middle of a changeover period, but then aren’t we always, in trying to integrate technology such as the iPad and Wi-Fi connectivity. How long will it take before students can benefit from 21st century education?
It is not just the teachers that can’t keep up
In these difficult financial times, there will also be students that can’t afford to have ownership of 21st-century tech hardware to use for their studies. It is more difficult with a class full of 30 to 35 students, if there is a percentage of them that just don’t have access. A school can’t say to students that you must buy this item or that item, when there is a substantial cost involved. It is easier for the management of a class when everybody is working from the same page. How can a teacher make sure that everybody has learned what they need to learn, if there are some that are using the latest and greatest, some that are using other, possibly inferior technology and some are stuck with pen and paper.
Grumpy sliders having to work it out
This article comes about from a real-life situation where my wife needed to take a Pages document and get it into a format that could be read by a Windows PC so that it could be printed. That’s another thing, teachers do still love to have things printed out onto paper. Why can’t the finished version of this document be sent by e-mail to whoever needs to read it. This Pages document was available in Dropbox and it will also be available on iCloud. I have explained on a couple of occasions that it is possible to go into iCloud from a web browser, even on a Windows machine. From there you can download the document either as a native Pages format, but also as a PDF and also as a Word document. My wife swears that the last time she wanted to do that, the options to get a PDF or a doc file were not available.
The solution to this problem
I showed her that it is possible to e-mail this document out from Pages on the iPad. There is a choice available which allows you to export out as Word files or PDF as well as in the native format. So far we have done a test of this as far as exporting the document out as a Word file. I’m expecting my wife to try to open this file tomorrow while in school. There shouldn’t really be any problem, but then there are also different doc file formats and we will have to hope that it has not got messed up in the export.
A man’s need to be able to provide a solution to a problem.
Us men do like to have the answer and the way to sort out a tricky situation. We do get rather frustrated when those problems appear that are not completely straightforward. We do like to try though. The later part of the difficulty comes from proprietary formats and having to switch from one to another. When working with a Mac in a Windows environment as my wife does while at school, strategies are needed to ensure that there is a minimum of fuss while sliding. A change in the way of thinking about how documents are created and presented needs to happen. I think it is a good thing that the original document is in a Pages format even if the distribution to students and colleagues always has to be in a Windows format. It makes it easy to see which files are the original files. When changes have to be made in a document you go back to the original rather than working with copies. If you are not going to carry in your MacBook Pro into School, so that you have access to your originals, then you must also have a mechanism in place for access to your working copies.
Is it possible to be a slider in a real-life situation such as a working teacher in a Windows based school?
There are benefits to using a Mac in terms of the quality of the hardware and the usability of the applications. I still believe that the advantages outweigh the inconveniences of working as a slider. Why should you have to use inferior technology, just because everybody else is using it.
The thing to do, is to recognise that there are chances of some incompatibilities and to have workarounds ready and in place. My wife now knows that it is possible to export out of the Pages application on the iPad and I would be inclined to suggest having a note in Evernote. This note could be a list of what the problem was and the steps that were used to solve it. That way she won’t have to worry about being short of a vital document for a class.