Bad apple for teachers

Grace Robinson
31 August, 2011
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Victorian teachers forced to lease their work computers have now been dealt a double blow by the Education Department, which has said that if they choose to rent a Mac  they have to pay for the white MacBook, which was discontinued by Apple in July.

Sparking further outrage from teaching and education communities is the recent increase of the computer lease cycle from three to four years, with mounting concerns that the ‘already outdated’ model will struggle to do its job at the end of the lease period, according to The Age in a news report today.

”Imagine still using the current white Mac in 2016! How does the department consider it OK to offer teachers an outdated computer … for a lease period of four years?” assistant principal Richard Lambert wrote on his blog, The Victorian Teacher Notebook Scandal.

Victorian teachers currently have the choice to rent the discontinued MacBook for $11.50 per fortnight or a Lenovo laptop for $4 per fortnight.

Privately owned computers cannot be used by staff in most schools because they do not have the Education Department’s software installed.

The Age spoke with Macworld Australia publisher Liana Pappas to find out how the MacBook would fare in performance and stability over the four-year lease.

“They’ll still work as normal four years down the track,” Pappas said. “You’ll still be able to update to the new operating system, you’ll still be able to install all software, so I don’t see it being an issue. They [Apple] actually upgraded them in May 2010 so they’re not that old.”

In the meantime, Australian Education Union state secretary Brian Henderson told The Age that the union was working towards providing all teachers with laptops as a ‘tool of the trade’  under the current enterprise bargaining negotiations.

Click here to listen to the complete commentary from Liana Pappas.

What do you think? Should teachers have to pay for a work computer? And four years from now – how will the MacBook stack up against newer Apple models? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

20 Comments

20 people were compelled to have their say. We encourage you to do the same..

  1. Anon says:

    The teachers should not have to pay for a work computer, that’s absolutely RIDICULOUS!
    The teachers should be able to bring in their own computers and just install the software on their existing computer or Mac users can install Windows via Boot Camp if necessary.
    They should also be allowed to upgrade their MacBooks to the newer Air or something like that, if the Department wants to keep their leasing thing.

    The whole deal altogether is rather silly.

  2. Diana says:

    In most professions as you walk in the desk you sit at has the required resources to do the job that is required. When the technology needs to be updated, it is done so with minimal fuss and definately no cost to the employee. How are we seriously expecting to not only make teachers purchase their own computers, but supplying them with computers I wouldn’t even give my kid.

  3. Macworld Australia Staff says:

    Hopefully the union can amend the agreement to provide computers as a trade tool. Which, to be honest, is baffling to think that it’s not already.

  4. Mark says:

    It is for reasons like that that I decided to leave my career of teaching. Teachers definitely should not have to be paying to rent a computer, it should be a tool of trade for them especially in this day and age. Teachers really don’t get paid enough as it is without having to fork out for necessities such as a computer. I know teachers will do it though as they actually care about their job and the children they are educating which often the ‘department’ takes advantage of.

    Funny, I now work in Adult Education with a financial sector company where not only do I get paid twice as much as I was when teaching, but told I must have a laptop should I need to work from home, a desktop for at work and mobile phone all paid for out of their budget. To make it worse, their minimum qualification requirements for such a position is a Certificate IV in Training and Assessment. Makes we wonder sometimes……

  5. Chris Braid says:

    The cycle of the mac and it’s software make it a more affordable choice (Less other resources spent maintaining the hardware and protecting the Software from attacks. With little price difference between the white and the Aluminium body mac portables I personally think that the Victorian Education Department is being precious. My team of Professionals get the Tools they know they need. Bean counters seem to avoid the accountability of their Penny pinching.

  6. Anon says:

    Imagine getting a job in a call centre and then being asked to rent your computer! Ridiculous.

    We teachers are expected to do an online roll every block, report online, and technology in the classroom is the norm….so why do we have to pay to rent laptops that most of us would not choose in the first place!

    Someone please see sense quickly!!!????

  7. Mathsguy says:

    Believe me, this is the least stupid of the things the Ed Dept inflicts on teachers – all it says is that they don’t want teachers to use macs. But a compulsory lease of anything is outrageous – follow the money and se what sort of kickback they get from Lenovo.

  8. Bruce says:

    Let’s be clear about this. DEECD would love all teachers to have PCs rather than Macs. They’re cheaper (for good reason) and it would be easier for technicians to just have to deal with one operating system. The problem is that education should be about providing cutting edge technologies. There is no argument that Apple is ahead of the curve here. Many teachers recognise the superiority of Mac hardware/software. There is no argument that Apple is also more expensive. As a teacher with a Mac I’m prepared to pay the extra fortnightly contribution to get the best but when I’m paying more for yesterday’s technologies I think DEECD has some explaining to do.

  9. pu says:

    unions are crap. they negotiate crap deals that aren’t beneficial for anyone but the buttom half of the bell curve.

  10. Scott says:

    I’m glad to see this story here and in The Age.

    I’ve been a teacher for over 10 years and computers have increasingly been used within the classroom. In fact often it seems to be an unwritten requirement for teachers to have a laptop in order to present content but also mark the roll and interact with the student record management system and yet in the public system the schools abdicate their role in providing adequate resources.

    In teaching it is very rare to have the sole use of a computer and a telephone for which would be a given elsewhere. Both are tools of the trade and the Department needs to wake up and start resourcing properly.

  11. David Moreland says:

    Firstly: The AEU are largely responsible for this situation. They allowed the notebook leasing to be part of the last round of negotiations and DEECD conned them with phony stats on the number Mac users in the department. DEECD continually claim we’re only 5% of the user base when it’s more like 17%. Otherwise why would they be trying so hard to discourage Macs in schools.
    Secondly: a MacBook running with 2GB on Lion will go like a pig straight out of the box. Imagine it in four years! Don’t forget we’re choosing Macs to do multimedia not just email and web.
    Now for a challenge: contact DEECD notebook scheme staff and try to get an informed and logical discussion on Macs. You’ll be amazed!

  12. CRAIG says:

    Disgusting but typical incompetent government crap. Either they supply the tools of trade pay and allowance and let the teachers purchase the machine of their choice that meets a base spec.
    The lease rates also seem very iffy to me.

  13. Gavin says:

    Wow, Victorian teachers get a choice. further north teachers don’t pay a lease but get what they’re given – various crap PC laptops – a certain number of which are being used as effective door stops. Should a teacher have the temerity to suggest that they might be qualified to make a choice for a mac they are told that they can but only if their school already has at least 10% of its computers as macs. In addition the principal must make a business case for their use AND certify that the person who might replace this user sometime in the future will also want to use said mac. Apparently our principals have the gift of clairvoyance amongst their many other talents.
    Queensland – not a State but a condition. At least we have the weather.

  14. Colin Dixon says:

    A quality notebook, free, not leased, renewed every year (old one put into the school pool of computers), should be on the log of claims by the teachers union? There is a government policy of one computer per pupil students are getting notebooks that they can take home. In WA I relief teach in schools all around the state the waste is terrible, the most important tools to use the new technology is not in the hands of the teachers. They don’t have large format displays in the classroom, when 50” displays are available mounted in classrooms for well under $1,000 schools have to buy them off contract for more than double retail price. They are still buying data projectors with old fashioned single touch smart boards that with blackout curtains (which they have to have of the picture is too dull) cost over $10,000.
    They have their priorities backwards the kids free notebooks are just games stations that mostly stay at home, a class of 30 macbooks is most of the time $45,000 wasted.

  15. Colin says:

    A quality notebook, free, not leased, renewed every year (old one put into the school pool of computers), should be on the log of claims by the teachers union? There is a government policy of one computer per pupil students are getting notebooks that they can take home. In WA I relief teach in schools all around the state the waste is terrible, the most important tools to use the new technology is not in the hands of the teachers. They don’t have large format displays in the classroom, when 50” displays are available mounted in classrooms for well under $1,000 schools have to buy them off contract for more than double retail price. They are still buying data projectors with old fashioned single touch smart boards that with blackout curtains (which they have to have of the picture is too dull) cost over $10,000.
    They have their priorities backwards the kids free notebooks are just games stations that mostly stay at home, a class of 30 macbooks is most of the time $45,000 wasted.
    PS WA allow a Macbook Pro 4Gb at $16.50 pf over 3 years, or a Dell PC with windows XP at $14.60. (schools run on Windows XP the 2001 version!!! And Office 2003)
    The NT supply a low end Windows Notebook for free

  16. Norton says:

    Macworld Australia publisher Liana Pappas said. “They [Apple] actually upgraded them in May 2010 so they’re not that old.”

    This article was posted in August, 2011…. It’s not when the MacBook was last updated, it’s that back in 2010, the Core 2 Duo was already long in the tooth!

  17. Jimmy says:

    Schools are about show, well mine is anyway. Smart boards give great PR demo but schools are truly afraid of the cost of interactivity. The key is good software. Whatever the platform, windows, Linux, MacOS, iOS, android the tech is moving to a single person one to one interactive experience.

    As far as teachers laptops, the dept is passing the cost on, why should they care? All people that get to “pay” for their work machine must be allowed to exercise preference. After all it’s their salary to burn on either option

  18. Gerard says:

    I am a recently retired,Victorian teacher and when the “computers for teachers” first came in the late 1990s it was used by some Principals to reward/punish teachers. It now seems that the “Department” is using this approach now. My first laptop was a PC because I didn’t think I had a choice because my school was a “PC School”. The last 2 were Macs which were much lighter and easier to use.
    The reason why the Lenovo laptops are so much cheaper is because they are low-end CRAP! My wife has one – it weighs “a ton” and the battery is lucky to last an hour!
    The Department don’t want teachers using Macs because their crap administrative & assessment software don’t work properly on Macs(doesn’t work very well on windows either).
    If teachers are paying for the use of a “Department” laptop, the should have the choice of using cutting edge technology.

  19. Mary Thorpe says:

    I was blown away as a new graduate with such a low income, I should have to pay for my computer. The technician would not work on my Macbook pro (brilliant machine) and I had to fight the fight to get the department issued mac as my choice much to his frustration.

    I am a Performing Arts teacher with previous experience in industry. I own Logic Pro music engineering softeware and it really needs a Macbook Pro to work properly.

    With so much money prioritised on Ultranet (shockingly convoluted and user unfriendly), interactivity and e-learning, my opinion is that the Education Department has it’s priorities wrong. Teachers should have highly capable computers. I use the Levono’s at report writing time and am aware they are pretty ordinary, and so slow!

    My skills as a teacher are well placed and I am passionate, but since realising the poor pay and conditions we deal with, I do not feel valued ot respected and I now regret choosing it as a career.

  20. Sarah says:

    The concern by teachers is not just that the macs are old, they are not compatible with school’s operating systems and require more RAM in order to work efficiently. Users risk having their insurance invalidated if they install additional RAM but without it the computers are slow and sluggish. Even when all applications are closed, typing on particular programmes can be delayed and using the computer can be frustrating. If computers are considered to be a tool of teachers’ trade then teachers should at least be provided with tools that can work properly.

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