When I was in college, we had a few different choices for computer labs, including Macs and PCs. But they were in separate locations and generally had different audiences. I tended to use a Mac lab for writing papers and surfing the web with the Mosiac browser.
However, if I went to Bemidji State University in Northern Minnesota, I could sit down at any computer in any lab, THEN choose whether I was going to use a Mac or PC.
Turns out the university “superlab” for students has been converted to recent-model iMacs that can run Windows as well as the Mac OS X. That’s about 110 iMacs available to students, along with several dozen other iMacs around the campus, all booting as either PCs or Macs via a customized, easy-to-use screen.
(A few of those iMacs triple-boot, with Linux added to the mix.)
The above quote comes from an October report by Julio Ojeda-Zapata. It looks like the program has been so successful that it’s quadrupled in scope in less than 2 months:
BSU’s Ground-Breaking Experiment With Apple Computers
[Director of Technical Support Brian] Allen estimates the cost savings to the University due to the dual-boot hardware project could approach $2 million over a three-year period. Reducing the number of computers on campus from 810 to about 400 during a future hardware refresh cycle could save the University $800,000 in hardware alone.
However, the dollars saved might not be the most visible impact of the program on BSU’s students. For them, the benefit comes in saved time and increased productivity.
“This program could end up being a tremendous benefit to the students on campus,” Scott Theisen, a technical support analyst at BSU, said. “Today, if a student needs to go into a lab and, for whatever reason, there’s only Macintosh or only Windows computers open, they’re stuck with what’s available. Now they can sit down at any machine and do what they need to do.”
This seems like a smart move to me. Save a ton of money on hardware. Give students easier access to whatever software they happen to need to use. And desegregate students from different departments who can now work side by side on very different projects (accountants mingling with artists?).