A while back there was a post on GeekDad about the customer service at one of the many Apple Stores across the country. I’ve only been to the one in Maine, and believe me we’re a different breed up here, but it wasn’t an unpleasant experience. Of course my tale does not end there. I work for a large school department, point of fact, I pay the bills for a large school department. I’ve had one or two dealings with Apple over the years, but the past six months, oh nothing prepared me for the past six months.
Quite frankly, from my perspective as a clerical cog in the education machine, Apple does not seem to care if our children have educational access to their products. For any municipality there are certain administrative functions in place to ensure that taxpayer money is spent wisely, with integrity and with accessibility of records, we guard these measures fiercely. Apple would like us to do none of these things. For the first iPad I bought this year, I had to call customer service every week for four months, make a visit to the store and understand that a seven digit phone number on an overdue statement was actually not prefixed by my local 207, but by one from seven states away, silly me. They were quite happy to send the product, and overdue statements, but not send the invoice by which I could pay them. At the other end of the spectrum they would love to take our money, but not in a way that allows us to control spending, credit card please ma’am, one number fits all teachers, no password needed. Did you know iPads come in ten-packs?
So what makes this a concern for me, the mother of a two year old in the twenty first century? What makes it more than just another gripe with a sassy vendor at the office? This year school districts across the country are having the same conversations I’m seeing here in Maine: Do we continue with our laptop program or move to the iPad? Which is the more effective educational tool? Just as typewriter classes were phased out, do we need to start embracing tablet technology for the classroom? Long term it’s certainly cheaper than a laptop for every child, but is this the tool they will need in the workplace ten years from now? I would love for Apple to embrace the idea of educating our children in all technologies, and to have them work with IT Directors and Accounts Clerks, to make their product work in our schools. Right now, I’m not feeling the love.
Educators across the country face the uphill battle every year of staying ahead of their kids on the technology learning curve. Among my own small circle, I don’t see the tablet taking over anytime soon, but we’re not talking this year’s workforce and the jury’s still out on the next generation.