“The first comprehensive study of the groundbreaking Apple iBook initiative in Henrico County’s public schools shows that most students want the laptop program to continue even though some are unsure how much it is helping them academically. The survey, conducted for the School Board by a Northern Virginia consulting firm, also found that most parents support the program even though they prefer Windows-based computers and most teachers favor its continuation even though it has added to their workloads,” Tom Lappas reports for The Henrico Citizen. “Henrico became the first school system in the nation to lease laptop computers for all of its high-school students when it entered into a four-year agreement with Apple in 2001. A four-year agreement for middle-school students began the following year.”

Lappas reports, “The School Board is considering whether to extend its high-school contract with Apple for another three or four years or take another direction. Its decision, expected in the coming months, will be made with a national audience watching. Henrico earned international fame for its agreement in 2001, and a decision to continue the initiative or end it will be viewed by many as either a validation or indictment of the overall concept.”

“According to parents who participated in the survey, students spend an average of 1.8 hours per day using their iBooks while at home. The survey did not ask how much of that time was devoted to schoolwork and how much was spent on recreational use,” Lappas reports. “The survey also found that 90 percent of families have another family computer at home, and that 92 percent of those computers are Windows-based. The survey found lukewarm support for the Apple operating system; 54 percent of parents would prefer a Windows-based system for their children, while only 12 percent favor Apple. High-school students also favor Windows over Apple, 51 percent to 24 percent, but middle-schoolers prefer Apple 41 percent to 36 percent. Teachers were split at 34 percent apiece, while administrators showed the strongest support for Apple, selecting it over Windows 66 percent to 8 percent. Surveys were completed by about 80 percent of all students, 81 percent of teachers and 69 percent of administrators.”

Full article with more details here.

MacDailyNews Take: The younger students, perhaps more open to change, favor the Mac, as do the administrators. This bodes well for Apple’s Mac platform’s future. There may be a resistance to change in people who are long-time Windows users or are very familiar with Windows or there may be some students who want the latest games or any number of other interesting reasons for the survey’s results. The survey states favor for Windows or the Mac, but the article doesn’t explain the reasons why some prefer one OS or the other. Why do you think that some of the groups studied prefer Windows and some prefer Mac OS X?

Related MacDailyNews articles:
Henrico poll finds students are using iBooks successfully – February 11, 2005
Henrico iBooks raise concerns among some parents – May 28, 2004
Henrico high school laptop program to continue, but will it still feature Apple Macs? – February 24, 2005