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Macs In Education: Your Questions Answered

written by: John Lister•edited by: Rebecca Scudder•updated: 3/24/2009

Answers to some of the most common questions about Apple in schools and colleges: Does Apple offer educational discounts? Does Apple offer educational discounts? And what are iTunes U and Apple U?

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    Does Apple offer educational discounts?

    Apple does offer good software discounts to schools, which it details at http://www.apple.com/education/pricelists/. For example, the iLife and iWork packages each cost $79 to individual consumers. For education establishments buying for 10 or more users, the cost is $35 and $29 respectively. The maximum discount, for 1000 or more users, sees the cost cut to just $25 and $9 respectively.

    Note that Apple prices its bulk discounts in 'seats'. This means you pay based on the number of people who are able to use the software, each of whom should have a separate user account and log-in. Unlike some forms of licensing, it doesn't make any difference how many computers you have. So under the rules of the Apple license, you can't buy a license of 50 seats, install it on 50 machines, and then have 200 different pupils use the software throughout the week.

    Apple also offers hardware packages to schools, but there are few if any savings. For example, a package of 20 MacBooks with iLife, plus one printer and networking cables costs $20,999, while a package of 20 iPod classics (120GB model) and a central charging/synching station is $6,999.

    It is worth remembering that the educational discounts apply to individuals as well as schools and colleges. This means teachers can get worthwhile, if not staggering, discounts on Apple products.

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    How can I persuade my school to use Macs?

    You should look through the site http://www.macvspc.info/, which is maintained by a man who campaigned for his local school to continue using Macs rather than switch to PCs. While clearly not an objective analysis, it does include many useful facts and figures which can help your argument.

    Some of the points you can make include:

    • Macs are growing in popularity and teaching children to use them may give them an advantage in the job market.
    • Macs can run Windows software in a variety of ways, so it does not have to be an either/or situation.
    • Microsoft has become more open to the idea of open standards formats for documents, meaning there are fewer problems today with students using Macs at schools and PCs at home.
    • While the reasons are debatable, Macs are generally less prone to viruses, meaning less danger of a school network becoming infected.
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    What is iTunes U?

    iTunes U is a section of the iTunes store used for educational content. As well as including audio and video tutorials and lectures from several leading universities for public download, the section has a facility for educational establishments to put up their own material for students to download to iPods. The facility allows establishments to restrict access to the materials so that only their own students can get to it, and even to set up a database so that students only see material related to their own course.

    For more details, visit: http://www.apple.com/education/mobile-learning/

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    What is Apple U?

    Apple hired former Yale business school dean Joel Podolny last October to take up a position as head of 'Apple University'. Since then there has been little detail of what this will involve. However, the US education system does not have any formal definitions of what constitutes a 'university', so this may simply be a corporate facility for training new staff in Apple technology. It could also be a general education facility offered to staff as a perk of the job.