Unlearning

One of my favorite posts of all time is Will’s Unlearning Curve. In fact, I included it in our school division’s digital learning vision page.

The past 2 weeks has been filled with unlearning as I move to the Macintosh platform. The unlearning will get even steeper since today my father-in-law’s iMac arrived (not sure why he bought Apple Care since who know who will be doing most of the troubleshooting) and on Monday I ordered my son his graduation present, another Macbook Pro. In addition to these personal purchases, our school division is introducing this platform into our Windows based network.

So over the past 2 weeks here are a few things, minor and major, I’m trying to unlearn:

  1. The X in the corner doesn’t quit the application.
  2. Beach balls don’t always mean fun.
  3. You don’t have to name every photo religiously. Renaming photos isn’t easy but it may not be that necessary.
  4. You don’t need a task bar. That’s what Expose is for.
  5. Maximize doesn’t mean full screen.
  6. The Alt key isn’t the same.
  7. You don’t have to run defrag or anti-virus.
  8. Drag and drop and shortcut keys for some reason seem more intuitive.
  9. I can easily put my computer to sleep and wake it up….every time.
  10. Macs aren’t perfect and don’t lead to happiness.

While these unlearnings will continue to grow, Clarence’s post about boxes continues to guide my thinking. While there is certainly some elegance to the Mac, the function and creative possibilities happen in both worlds and in other environments as well. Clarence’s post on OS and education also has me thinking about unlearning. While his premise is interesting and valid, I’m more inclined to believe that users and manufacturers are doing more to make learning and creativity happen in any environment. Users expect to be able to be productive and creative in any environment. There still needs to be understandings around the purpose of certain devices but when it come to creativity in particular, Windows or Mac shouldn’t matter. I recall my early days of video editing on a windows machine. Since firewire was an add-on, hardware and software compatibility was a nightmare. I was one of those odd souls who persisted and had some success. Today, these issues are largely solved. I certainly have very high expectations that the Mac will prove to be the superior machine. As a power user, I’ll be looking for certain functionality, but I also continually compare my Windows experience. During this transition I keep thinking, “how can I do this on my Dell?” I know the purists will point out differences and many of my hardcore Mac friends can officially whip the smirk off their faces as they’ve welcomed another into their fold. The issue for me continues to be finding machines that do the job. It shouldn’t be about one over the other. I’m glad to see our school division offer this option as well.

Learning, unlearning, relearning….it’s all good.

Footnote:
One of our high schools sent 2 students to a provincial skills competition in video editing. They realized a week before the event that the competition would be using Macs, iMovie and Final Cut Pro. These students had never used a Mac. Their teacher wanted to pull them out of the event but the organizers encouraged them to compete. They received a 20 minute tutorial immediately prior to the full day competition. They gained a silver medal out of 15 competitors.

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  • I agree it’s all good. I think it’s important for us (and for our students) to be able to learn to use whatever tools are available. I try to remember all the new applications I’ve learned to use over the last year or so and I’m amazed. I can’t even begin to imagine what will be available in a year – let alone in ten years.

    “Learning, unlearning, relearning…” these are the skills we need to be “teaching” to our students. And what better way than by sharing our own process?

    That said – I love my Mac!

  • After having my mac book pro for 15 months I still havent figured out how t get my battery to last. The Dell laptop used at school seems to lat all day at work, as long as I plug it in each evening. My son seems to think I leave it on the plug far too long (which I do), and so it thinks I want it to get energy from the plug, and the battery is not being charged fully. I dont know. But I do prefer it over the Dell. Wait until you hook it up to a projector and see the screen get magnetized. Better try that out before doing a preso, so you’ll know how to adjust the settings.

  • Cathy,

    Already had that issue during a presentation. Still not sure I have it right. I wonder if that battery thing is true? I just unplugged. 😉

  • I hear too often that we should stick with this platform or that or we should use a certain software program because our students need to learn how to use them when they leave school. This bothers me to no end and lately has really gotten under my skin. I think your footnote says it all. Skills are transferable between platforms. Of course there is always a learning curve with a new platform but in your students case it looked to be a 20 minute curve (not bad).

    When I was in high school we used Macs. They were Mac Classics with Claris Works and Hypercard installed on them. How often do you think I use these programs? How often did I use them in college? The fact is we can’t prepare students for the exact technology skills with the exact platform they will be using when they leave our institutions because those platforms have not been invented yet. We can, however, expose students to different types of computing and different types of applications that share conventions with other similar programs. We have been using office and studio software long enough to anticipate which skills will still be needed in future programs and future platforms.

    If we look at current developments in IT as predictors of the future apps we see cloud computing on the quickly approaching horizon as being extremely significant. The nice thing about this category of software applications is they do not exist on anyone’s personal computer, they exist online. If they are online it does not matter what platform you use to access them so long as you have a reliable web browser and a decent connection.

    The advent and probable future significance of cloud computing makes it possible to discard costly systems like Windows and Mac and go with an open source operating system on a cheap PC and still have access to the same programs you would on a machine running proprietary OS software. Think of the cost savings and what it could mean for schools’ tech budgets. Take Apple or Microsoft out of the budget and you suddenly have a lot more money to spend on hardware.

    Sure, we still will probably want to have a handful of powerful machines with proprietary software installed for our power users but what percent of student use computing fits this category. I agree with Clarence when he says that sometimes all he wants is a simple OS with access to the internet and a few basic applications.

  • WOW that’s flash- audio and video comments- dare I try thru my brand new Mac Book Pro- oh why not?

  • [riffly_audio]FC018B1CFCA711DCBBFBD0A456B4F508[/riffly_audio]

  • This is for you Allanah

    [riffly_video]2A5752D6FCDE11DC96DED0A456B4F508[/riffly_video]

  • Three new macs… amazing. Persist. I use Macs at school and home. PCS when I give professional development.

    Your observation about the ‘x’ not quitting an application and the fact that the ‘+’ does not maximise a window are the two most common symptoms of a convert. In fact, some new mac users often find their mac freezing or slowing down only to find that they have two dozen apps open. They thought they had quit the app but all they had actually done was close the window.

    About the battery life… that is a tough one. Switch the keyboard lighting feature off and play with energy saving settings in System Preferences. Switch off Bluetooth and any other hardware that you are not using. Apple and batteries have never had a good relationship in my experience.

    Just off the top of my head Dean… Install the following tools, if you have not already done so, for better video and audio compatibility:

    Flip 4 Mac: http://www.flip4mac.com/
    Perian: http://perian.org/ [This will be installed within your System Preferences]

    Ambrosia software and Plasq have some great mac software.

    Get an Airport Express so that you can play your iTunes music wirelessly through your stereo. ^_^

    Cheers, John

  • Thanks for the tips John. I use bluetooth for my mouse but if I’m in need of battery will try and remember that one. I have Flip and Perian but will look into the others. Do have an Airport as well.

    Appreciate it.

  • Video reminder…your video comment was shot with a bright window behind you making it difficult to see your face. Remember lighting when you are creating even a video comment. I know, I know, you of all people already know this and were just experimenting with the video comment feature….But others may not be aware.