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General Chat Thread, 6th Form ideas in General; Following on from a previous post of mine regarding how you run your sixth form, I'm after a little more ...
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    6th Form ideas

    Following on from a previous post of mine regarding how you run your sixth form, I'm after a little more insight on a few things. I need to post in this forum as I want to get a general response.

    A lot of things are in the air on the ICT side of things; I'm working on what I want on the infrastructure side of things but obviously we're looking at what its going to be delivered on the curriculum and what they are going to need/want.

    I'm hearing a lot of mumbling from various members of staff that they want a Mac suite because they are the 'industry standard' - we're purely PC here, and I'm opened minded as to what they want because, at the end of the day I'm here to do a job and provide the tools they need. However, I'm not up to speed on Macs and need to do a lot of research of how and why. I don't want a debate on what's best, Mac or PCs, I need to know the pro's and con's of introducing them here. I'm not convinced of the argument of 'their industry standard' as no one really has told me what they intend to run yet.

    The Business Manager has polled alot of other BM's in other schools as whay they use and run, but I want a view from us techies, the ones that support them.

    I know a lot of you run Macs here and I'll be interested in your insight of what is used, how they are used, are they used efficiently and what you needed to do ensure they function securely on your network. I don't want a Mac bashing or PC bashing debate - I need evidence one way or the other otherwise I'm just seen as being negative.

    I'm also looking to visit a few other Network Managers in schools that run sucessful sixth forms to get a view of how its done, and would appreciate if anybody in the Wiltshire area would be happy to let me come and visit and have chat?

    Again, I bow to your superior knowledge and insights.

    thanks

    Pete

  2. #2

    sippo's Avatar
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    What sort of thing do you want to know ref 6th form?

    We have a suite of mac's, all connected to an X-Serve. Was a nightmare to install - with help from Western computers.

    I'm in Faringdon so just down the road.

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    FragglePete (19th February 2013)

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    sonofsanta's Avatar
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    Regarding Macs, my arguments against have always been:
    1) We don't have the expertise. Money will have to be spent to bring us up to speed, either literally (training courses) or in-kind (time to learn)
    2) Macs cost more than the equivalent spec PC for no good reason other than Apple tax. This is a natural effect of Apple having a monopoly on Apple products (obv.)
    3) Macs are specifically targeted by thieves. Start of last academic year, in the first week of term, the local college was broken into and cleared out of its new suite of Macs, and a local school was broken into and cleared of half its new suite. The next night they broke in again and took the other half.
    4) There isn't anything you can do on a Mac you can't do on a PC. For a while, Photoshop (as traditional a Mac program as you can get) ran better on Windows, with a native x64 version with GPU acceleration. It's caught up again now, but a lot of people still fall into the belief of "media stuff runs better on Macs" which may have been true when they were PowerPC based, but not now.
    5) You will have staff & students getting very confused from moving between the two interfaces. You could argue that you need to educate users on various interfaces so they are better prepared if they meet them out in industry - fine. But that's not the argument they're making here, so you're confusing people for the sake of it.
    6) Apple have a poor track record of recent when it comes to supporting anything other than consumers - retiring servers etc.

    If I was still asked to install Macs after stating all that then I would - I'm here to meet the needs of the school, after all - but I've not as yet worked out a good reason to contrast the above negatives.

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    The thing to mention is that i'm not all that au fais with macs.

    As such the mac procurement procedure goes like this..
    Teacher: I want a mac
    Me: Why not a laptop/slate/desktop
    Teacher: I want a mac. ( there's never a convincing argument)
    Me: I can't sanction an exceptional purchase without a good reason, you can buy one but I'm afraid we won't offer support (we would if they had a good reason for using mac in first place)
    Teacher: ok.
    Teacher 6 months on: Whats my password, how do I print, where are my files, can you purchase x software...

    I just wish we had one compelling argument to use macs then I could get test equipment and training and some sort of support!. So as someone trying to support individual macs without a clue I can honestly say its a political and technical nightmare!

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    FragglePete (19th February 2013)

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    We have 10 Macs here. Also a nightmare to get networked. The kids find them a bit easier to produce videos on as opposed to using Adobe Premier.

    The "industry standard" line is a bit rubbish too.

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    FragglePete (19th February 2013)

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    bushby's Avatar
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    here, i had a very dominant mac system that was untill last year.
    pros: they look nice.
    cons: they be a nightmare on networks with ad-od linking doesnt always map home drives, policies dont always update, they like to have perphials taken because they be white.

    i personly realy dislike them in a network enviorment but on their own they are fine

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    Quote Originally Posted by sippo View Post
    What sort of thing do you want to know ref 6th form?

    We have a suite of mac's, all connected to an X-Serve. Was a nightmare to install - with help from Western computers.

    I'm in Faringdon so just down the road.
    Thanks @sippo

    I'm fact finding on how other sixth forms are run regarding their ICT. SMT are doing the rounds at the moment talking to other sixth forms on how they run things from the T&L point of view along with the BM talking to other BMs. I'll PM you in the next day or so to arrange a date to pop over if that's ok?

    Thanks

    Pete

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    Have to say "Industry Standard" is absolute cr@p. Which industry? - Teaching nope, Sixth Form nope, university nope, big bad world nope.

    We have a music suite which is all mac - simply because they wanted Logic. The costs to bring it all in and set it up just from 1 piece of software is ridiculous (I wasn't here at the time). Again the argument is always "its music and you have to do it on a mac as its better and the industry standard" - absolute rubbish - the innards are the same and you are running a program - the OS is pretty irrelevent at this stage.

    I have no problem with Apple (I'm MacOS Support trained and used one at home for a few years) however I cannot see why a 6th form would need Macs - our 6th form use their PC's for surfing the web and working on assignments in Office - nothing that needs a specific OS.

    If you have an AD infrastructure I cannot see the logic in putting in a Mac suite. Save yourself the money and time and stress. Macs are very good machines and are pretty - just not cost effective in most circumstances.

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    FragglePete (19th February 2013)

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    MACs are "industry standard" in graphic design, architects, music production (maybe) and some CAD. Where I am now, we have two MAC suites, one in graphics and one in art and you know what? They just work. We've had no problems networking them and getting them to authenticate using AD. The teachers are very protective of them, and check the peripherals immediately after class and if there is so much of a speck of dust on the keyboard, the student who was using the machine, is hauled over the coals. Exaggeration, but the other IT suites are not checked after every lesson my the teachers.

    In my previous school, the music department had MACs, which were stand alone, although we kind of had a single sign on. At the start of the year, we created MAC uids using the spreadsheet that we chucked at CSVDE, so that users had the same user id as the M$ machines, and initially the same password.

    In the school before that, we replaced all the teacher laptops with macbooks, which IMO was the best thing we ever did. We used to get lots of problems with teachers taking laptops home, and letting their kids use them. The laptop would come back with all sorts of crap installed on it (eg kazaa, loads of toolbars, not to mention viruses), and it was almost a full time job for the junior techie to reghost them. Once we god rid of the XP laptops, all of these problems went away. That school subsequently went to MACs on the student desktops; shame I had moved on as I would like to have been there for that.

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    FragglePete (19th February 2013)

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    SYNACK's Avatar
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    Old xp to new macs, thats a fair comparison

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    Annoying as Macs can be to get onto a network. There are certain things I think they're better at. Personally, having used both mac and PC in a music production environment I find that Logic Pro is a far nicer peice of software than the PC alternative. Aditionally cross platform software like Ableton Live and Protools always seem to perform better in a Mac environment, I always seem to have less issues with latency and space for one or two more plugins.

    The benefits are very specific though and unless you plan on setting up a dedicated music / video production room then I'd probably go with a PC purely for the cost benefit

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    unixman_again's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SYNACK View Post
    Old xp to new macs, thats a fair comparison
    It was 5 years ago we replaced XP with macbooks.

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    tb2571989's Avatar
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    If you have the time and money to install them correctly, and the time and money to train people (including us technicians) on them, I would hope you would have very little issues.

    However.

    We have 6 iMacs in the school, 4 of which are for the use of the 6th form, along with 60 MacBook Pros which are used (or supposed to be used by, not sure how much use they actually get) by Art and Music. They authenticate thorough an xServe to our AD setup which works...reasonably well. We had isses with the macbooks authenticating through the wireless, had to set up a login page for Smoothwall (and that tab has to be kept open to browse the internet), and our print software (PCounter) has a Mac client although my god that was an agonising process getting it working properly. Our domain is also called .local which comes with it's own issues (horay apple deciding .local was for the mac -_-)

    They have CS5 installed on them for use by the students - although it's likely that apart from Photoshop and Dreamweaver it won't get used as it's just too complex. We've also taken the mice/keyboard out and replaced them with cheapy USB mice/keyboards because they would have gone walkabouts fairly quickly.

    Make it completely, utterly, crystal clear that, while you're open to Macs in the network, you need the support of staff and SLT as you do not have the expereince needed to deal with them. Before my current job I had 0 Mac experience and now I have...a little bit more.

    If you want it for media production and don't need Garageband, etc, spend the money on some more powerful PC machines - quad core with 8GB of RAM, an 240GB SSD and a 500GB Spinny Disk hard drive, a gigabit network connection and 64-bit Windows.

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    Gibson335's Avatar
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    I can't see 6th Form being the place you'd put Macs. Design, Media or Music, maybe, but it's still worth considering how and why they would be better than standard PCs or laptops, because if they're going to cause more problems - training, networking - then their purchase needs to make sense. I would seek better justification than 'it's industry standard'.

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    rad
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    We have a large sixth form for our area, 550 or so students.

    All areas, Art, Media, Tech currently have PCs running XP with CS3 Production Premium. Music has XP running Reason, Sibelius, Cubase etc, all fine.

    Media want CS6 installed, so Win 7 needed, Music want Macs cos that's what they want, it's been investigated and support is out there for them to be covered. However I am sure they will need assistance, and I have already asked to be sent on a course. I can do basic things on my MBPro but nothing ICT wise.
    The RE dept have MBPro but they were bought within the department, HoD is moving on, and if there are any issues, looks like the kit may have to be inherited, however I do not have any of the apps, CDs or details to maintain them.

    Do schools need macs, only if there is enough knowledge to support them, otherwise stick to pcs.

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