Back in 1998 my school put the first model of iMac in my classroom, the Bondi iMac pictured on the left. I rotated groups of students through the Bondi iMac as they created websites using HTML as part of the projects they were working on at the time. We’ve come a long way since the days of having to code our websites with HTML!
The next year when I had two sizable grant projects that I got at the same, The Learning Space: Right in Class (RiC) and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Teacher Leadership Project (TLP), I was able to get more iMacs. By that time Apple came out with the multi-colored iMacs, the Stawberry red, the Blueberry blue, the Grape purple, the Orange orange, and the Lime green. I was able to get two of each along with some other tech because each grant was for $10,000! Yeah, $20,000 to spend on my classroom AND training on top of that!
With ten computers in the classroom I was able to have students working in small teams to do research and work on projects. Once WYSIWYG website editors came out, where students didn’t have to code the HTML themselves, we switched to using those. Students could get more done with less effort.
Once the fruity iMacs started wearing down and were no longer able to support the work we were doing I was fortunate enough to get ten eMacs (see photo below)! They were more powerful iMacs made specifically for education.
Eventually the eMacs started to fall behind of our software and work needs and I was able to get the new, flattened model of iMacs that first came in 2004. I got $17,500 from two Best Buy grants and was able to get 10 of those in my class.
These 2004 iMacs were great by they also became obsolete. With only 1GB of RAM they cannot run current software and I have not been able to update the operating system since 2009. Mac OS 10.5 came out in 2007 and the now nine iMacs in my classroom have OS 10.5.8 and cannot be updated any further. Current Mac OS are up to 10.10.5. That means that all of the 10.6, 10.7, 10.8, 10.9 and now 10.10 updates have come and gone and my classroom iMacs have missed out on all the improvements brought about in those updates!
So even though I have a 1:1, it’s pieced together with old, first generation iPads, iPad 2s, Samsung Galaxy Tabs, Netbooks running Linux, PC laptops, and Chromebooks. As much I love and even prefer having a 1:1 with different devices so that my students get to work on different devices and using different operating systems what is difficult for students are the devices that out of date, or worse, obsolete.
But the issues with the 2004 iMacs are about the same if not worse than the iPads, more comparable to the first generation iPads. Here are some of the issues we’ve had to deal with for the past few years:
- Since we cannot update the operating system, we cannot update any of the software. Not a problem really with the native Mac programs such as iPhoto and iTunes, etc, but is a problem with not being able to update Firefox, Safari and Chrome.
- Since we can’t update the browsers mentioned above and can’t update flash I thought years ago we would not be able to play online games or even watch YouTube videos. No YouTube would have been a breaker, I would have wiped those computers and installed Linux or something. Flash still works and so does my digital microscope software so we keep using the Mac OS.
- While students can access Google Drive on Chrome, there are glitches when using Google Docs and Sheet and Slides but they do work. Firefox and Safari aren’t very reliable for working with the Google suite of apps.
- When we have login problems switching from one student’s GAFE account to another one, using the blogger site, blogger.com, works like a charm.
- Sites that use flash are hit and miss, some work, some don’t. Just recently students tried to use pizap.com to make a meme and it wouldn’t work on any of our browsers.
- I did find a workaround. We have on older version of Comic Life on our Macs (and it’s real easy to copy of a flash drive and put on the other Macs).
- Start a single panel on Comic Life and drag and drop your image from the desktop right into it.
- Use the Comic Life text tools to add the text to your meme.
- Take a screenshot when it’s done by zooming in and using the screenshot keyboard shortcut, Command-Shift-4. That brings up the cross-hairs to the cursor to select just the meme.
- Rename your file and if there is no .png at the end, add it.
- Voila! You have a meme!
Aside from the problems listed above, students have been using these older, completely obsolete 2004 iMacs since 2004 until they became obsolete and beyond. Year after year students use them AND get their work done. It is by no means easy. Some days I have students that spend the whole period tying to make something work to no end. Then the next day, or sometimes even the next period, it works just fine. Such is the reality of working in a ragtag 1:1 program. I still wouldn’t give it up because of all the things kids get to do and the ways we get to blog and make websites to connect to the world.