>Date:    Wed, 27 Nov 1996 17:33:37 -0500
>From:    Dean Mancina <[log in to unmask]>
>We are having a discussion many of you have no doubt already had... trying to
>decide the appropriate "mix" of Macintosh and PC computers for the new open
>computer lab we are planning for our learning center. (the FIRST such lab
>anywhere on our campus!!!).  Our current plan is to ONLY use PC's.  What do
>you think a good mix should be, or should it be all one or the other? (At
>this time, we are NOT considering Motorola or any other brand that claims to
>be multi-platformed. We have heard repeatedly that the bugs on these machines
>have not been fully worked out. Of course, if they were, most if not all of
>our problems would be solved!)
>Here's some information about our lab to help you give me input. We will be
>starting with 40 computers, and these will need to serve a variety of
>purposes since there is no other open computer lab on campus.  Of course,
>primarily, students are likely to use them for basic word processing
>activities. Other uses will probably include (1) augmented tutoring using
>CAI, (2) ESL work, (3) working on programming for their (lower division)
>computer programming classes, (4) accounting homework, etc.  Additionally,
>they will all have internet access so students can have an email address and
>access the web, etc.  There is hope to hire a full time classified employee
>with some computer knowledge to troubleshoot problems, help students when
>they get stuck, etc., but the real chance of us getting that position is
>probably less than 20%.  If we don't get that position, there will be two
>full time classified and one full time faculty in the center, and they only
>have limited computer knowledge, and only with Macintosh. (Also, our Computer
>Services Department only provides very limited service to departments with
>their computers.  They are heavily trained to work with PC's, but some have
>received some training in working with Macintoshes.)
>American River College started with 40 computers, quickly grew to 100, and
>has a 80% Mac / 20% PC mix. They have told me in retrospect they felt that
>60% MAC / 40% PC would have been better.
>Please let me know if you need more information about our plans for the lab
>in order to give me your recommended PC/MAC mix.
>Thank you in advance for your thoughts.


It all depends on what applications you plan to run.  If all you want is an
"open lab" for students to access the Web, write papers, use spreadsheets,
etc. ANY COMPUTER WILL DO.  I have no preference for either Mac or PC
especially now that both platforms are so dependable and the desktop
applications are practically platform independent.  A good suite of standard
Mac's or PC's (or both) will do very nicely.

If you plan to run learning skills diagnostic software, educational
packages, etc., check with the software company what platform(s) the program
in question runs on.  I run a computerized learning skills laboratory and
bought Macs and PCs.  It turns out that most software for assessment and
development of learning/study skills has been written for PCs, so my Macs
are a bit underused.

Another consideration is cost.  For the moment, Macs tend to be a bit more
pricey than their comparable PC competitors, but the gap is narrowing as
Apple Computer has begun to license its operating system hence allowing
"clones" to get in the market.  In the PC sector, you can find hundreds of
very reputable companies that offer robust systems at affordable prices.  In
the Mac sector we are beginning to see a drop in prices, especially in
machines intended for the "public"  (The Performa series)

Other than this, you're safe.  Both platforms are extremely reliable and
easy to use.  They offer instant add-ons for Internet connection.  These can
(should) be used for local, as well as wide networking.  They are very easy
to install, maintain and operate.  You can find very high quality "general
purpose" software for both platforms, as well as plenty of literature and

Now, as for humans, that's another problem.  Somewhat jokingly, I have the
thesis that there are two sub-species of humans:  The MACS and The PCS.
Some take this distinction so seriously that refuse to even touch a machine
from "the others."   You may want to cater to both.  I have an open lab for
students and my split is 50-50.  When you sit at either machine, you see no
difference:  MS word, MS excel, Netscape, TCP/IP.  Both aisles are always
filled to capacity.

Good Luck.

Guillermo Uribe Ph D. Systems Support.
University Learning Center
University of Arizona
P.O. Box 210041
Tucson AZ  85721-0041