Wednesday, October 8, 2008

What's Next? Field Trip to Chuck E. Cheese?

I love Apple and their products, but this is beyond crass. Field trips to the Apple Store for your class! Parents with their American Express cards are also welcome.

When I first saw this advertised in the Sydney Apple Store last week, I chalked it up to the novelty of there only being one or two Apple stores on the entire continent of Australia. However, in an age where you have to dig for fossilized remains of field trips gone by, bussing kids to the mall to look at Apple products seems distasteful. Of course, all of this is at the school (or parents') expense with Apple contributing nothing, but Skippy, the minimum wage sub-genius, to supervise the proceedings.

The real tragedy here is that educational computing in schools remains so immature and unsophisticated, that many schools will rightfully view this (commercial) opportunity as a way of enhancing their students' education.

I'm sure ISTE is scrambling to figure out a way to make a buck off these field trips. Perhaps they'll publish guide books, post-mall quizzes or standards for visiting the Apple Store.

Read my recent article related to ridiculous field trips, Enrichment Programs: The winners win more at the expense of their classmates.

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Friday, September 19, 2008

Even Microsoft Won't Use Vista

Microsoft's "I'm a PC' campaign created with Macs and Adobe software.

However, not even Microsoft itself can wean itself off the Mac, as the metadata discovered by Flickr user LuisDS points out. Microsoft was not only using Macs but also Adobe's software in place of its own Expressions Studio, which the company bills as software that "takes your creative possibilities to a new level."

Read about this and other Microsoft marketing problems difficulties here.

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Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Banned Collection - Issue 1

I've been writing for magazines for about a decade and on occasion the publisher or Editor-in-Chief objected to the content of a column and refused to punish it. On other occasions I would not make changes I felt would dilute my argument or insult the intelligence of the reader.

It seems like the blogosphere is a good place to share these "controversial" articles.

Think Different - Lose the Cart was an open letter I wrote to Apple CEO Steve Jobs in 2002 imploring the company to stop selling laptop carts.

The magazine thought that Apple might be offended. I stand behind the article six years later at at time when schools are inexplicably tethering laptops to desks.

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Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Possibility of Doing Good AND Doing Well

The recent Sturm and Drang over the Associated Press' concern about their stories being excerpted in blogs and on web sites without compensation has been continued in blogs [1] [2] by Will Richardson.

Some well-fed fully-employed bloggers long for a Utopian world where all intellectual capital is free. They use the technical breakthroughs of the Web as evidence that expertise and intellectual capital are devalued in a world in which "content" can be had by the barrel at no cost.

Such a view ignores the value of art, culture and civil traditions while viewing the world entirely through the eyes of economists. The answer to runaway capitalism is not Marxism.

I just read a terrific new article about how good old fashioned hard work, competent management, respect for artists and emerging technology is being used to make opera more profitable and accessible.

New York's famed Metropolitan Opera Company is improving the bottom line and increasing its relevance without defaming, devaluing or disrespecting their employees or compromising the quality of their "product." In fact, they are honoring hundreds of years worth of artistic tradition and its importance to Western culture, by building upon those traditions and reaching new audiences.

Surely, there are some lessons here for education.

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Sunday, February 17, 2008

Hey Apple, Sell the Damn iPhones!

(2/17/08 Apple Reality Distortion Field)

I just walked 20 blocks in the rain to the flagship Apple Store on 5th Avenue in NY. I wanted to buy the new Aperture 2. I've surrendered a couple of hundred thousand of digital photos to Aperture and the new version promises to be at last usable. The speed of the previous version is excruciating.

As a big Apple fan and stockholder, I was thrilled to see the store packed with customers on a rainy Sunday evening at 11:30 PM. There is a $99 upgrade path to Aperture 2, but not from education/academic versions. So, I'm out of luck, but at least I can save $20 off the retail version as an educator, right?

OF COURSE NOT. "You can't get the Apple academic discount in the Apple store. Why not order the software online and wait for it to arrive?" asked the store employee. I figured that if I walked back to my hotel, I would make up for the price differential and surrendered more money to the Apple Gods.

As I went to pay I noticed customers on either side of me purchasing five iPhones each. "Woo hoo! Perhaps my stock will rebound," I thought to myself.

Not so fast, the clerk swiped the credit card of the customer to my right, read the display and exclaimed, "You've already bought five iPhones! Her arms scooped up the product he was trying to buy with actual money."

Apparently the Apple Point-of-Sale system is sophisticated enough to detect if someone buys lots of iPhones, but not capable of giving me the academic discount.

Back at my hometown Apple Store I've watched customers turned away for trying to pay cash for an iPhone even when purchasing other items as well. Using legal United States tender is some sort of no-no for iPhone customers!

I realize that people are hacking the iPhone, but do not understand why that is a problem for Apple. Even if they lose the kickback they may receive from AT&T, they still made money on the device.

As an Apple stockholder who lost more 1/3 of value since January, I want Apple to make lots of midnight iPhone sales. I don't care if people are crushing the iPhones and snorting them!

Either should Apple!

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Wednesday, September 5, 2007

School Leaders Could Learn from Apple & Starbucks

A few months ago, I published an article, No Double Half-Caf Venti Low-Fat Mochaccino Left Behind, in District Administration Magazine. That article offered leadership advice for school administrators inspired by the phenomenal success of Starbucks.

Both Starbucks and their new partner, Apple, really understand the Experience Economy.

In an article I wrote years ago, Everything I Know About Reading Instruction, I Learned from Oprah Winfrey, I pondered what Borders and Barnes and Noble know that school librarians seem to be missing. Both of these bookstore chains know how, dare I say, to engage children for long periods of time in positive civil activity. Starbucks does as well.

Since so many kids already do their homework at school, perhaps Starbucks should open their own schools. Just a thought.

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