One of Apple Australia's most vigorous, aggressive and competitive market areas is education. Apple claims to be the largest single supplier of computers to the education market in the last 10 years with more than 30 per cent of the market share (including schools and universities). Some universities use Macintosh for more than 50 per cent of their computer base. IDC reports that market share for the last quarter was 39 per cent compared to 30 per cent for the same period last yearAustralian Reseller News spoke to Jan Hedge, national education manager for Apple Australia, who said that the company's aim is to further strengthen its market-leading position. She expressed disappointment at the trend for computer committees of parents, and not Principals and teachers, to make computer purchase decisions for schools. Parents, she believes, are used to using PCs at work and they are unaware of the specially designed education software packages for schools.
Apple marketing is based on the assumption that teachers have little or no knowledge of computers and how to use them in the classroom. It also believes that many teachers are uncertain and even afraid of the technology revolution. It sets about tackling these fears by marketing tutorials and program ideas for teachers with its software. For example, the new Apple Education Series pack released in August 1996 also contains a user manual and a comprehensive set of teacher notes and support material to assist teachers in lesson planning.
The Apple eMate 300, which will be available early in 1997, is an attempt to capitalise on the PC classroom as well as the Macintosh classroom. This mobile computer, designed for students, will allow a student to create a document using the word processor on the eMate 300 and then, if necessary, upload it into a Mac or Windows word-processor application on a desktop machine.
Apple has tuned in to the Australian education environment by providing both software and hardware aimed specifically at students and teachers. It supports this technology by conducting teacher education programs both in-school and in a conference format.
If Apple Education is right in its assumption that teachers need to be guided in their use of computers in the classroom, in the absence of alternative teacher education programs, resellers of Apple Education products will be assured of continuing market dominance and increased market share.
The Apple education series
The packs in the Apple education series cover mathematics, environmental studies, high school biology, multimedia learning tools and secondary reference.
They are free with the Power Macintosh 6300 or the Performa 5400, or at a cost of $195, ex tax schools price, with the Performa 580. The software and materials are curriculum-based, with Australian software and guides written by Australian teachers.
The Environmental Studies package, for example, was developed especially for the Australian education system in consultation with Allan Waterson, an experienced science and biology teacher and coordinator of the Streamwatch program for schools. The High School Biology package includes over a dozen software titles spanning the biology curriculum, from genetics to ecology.
It has been developed to enhance hands-on laboratory activities with computer simulations, data collection, model building and analysis as well as relevant reference material.
Following the success of the Coles Supermarket docket promotion, which Jan Hedge says reaffirmed Apple's market leadership position, Apple conducts a back-to-school promotion each year. Last year the focus was on the introduction of the Internet, and in 1997 the focus will be on how to create and publish on the Internet. Seminars being conducted by Apple Education in schools are now focusing on what the Internet is about and what the user can do with it rather than what it is.
Apple Education has combined with the University of Wollongong to conduct the eighth annual Innovative Technology Schools Conference. It will be held from Monday, November 25 until Friday, November 29 at the University of Wollongong.
This year, the conference will focus on the use of technology across the curriculum for all key learning areas, from kindergarten to year 12. According to Hedge, the aim of this year's conference is to reinforce Apple's strategy for promoting Macintosh in the schools by providing teachers with a fundamental understanding of technology and how to use it more effectively in the classroom. The workshops include Animation and Music, Integrated Classroom Tools, Telecommuni-cations in the Classroom, Classroom Software, Learning Environments, Publishing and Authoring Tool.