January 17, 2012

Note: At the end of 2016, Apple’s One-to-One program disappears completely. Too bad. But during 2016, a small segment of Mac owners — like me — can still access to the program. This is only because right before Apple announced the death of 1-2-1, I bought a new laptop AND a new 1-2-1 membership. So new Apple computers owners in my boat can use 1-2-1  for one year of training or until the end of 2016 — whichever comes first.  I’ve heard that Apple will offer some type of alternative program in 2017. Stay tuned for more. 

As we all know, embracing technology is key to both personal and professional success. Note the key word: “Embrace.” Absolutely, passion makes a difference. But if you’re not feeling the love for tech stuff, this post might offer you both help and hope.

The information below is about Apple’s One-to-One membership for Mac training. I initially signed up when I bought my first MacBook in 2007. True confessions — getting into an Apple head took a while. The initial learning curve was quite steep. But then I was hooked on the patient, individual attention from Personal Training and started going nearly every week. The happy ending? I fell in love with my Mac.

Now, look at me! Getting tech-savvy transformed my life as a teacher, artist and journalist. Learning how to use my computer has opened countless doors for marketing myself, making connections and getting paid. Shhh, don’t tell anyone that I’m still a dunce in many ways. It doesn’t matter because when I have a question, I just go ask the smart Apple trainers.

So let’s get you started..

Step One: Get yourself a new Mac computer, either a laptop or desktop. This step will cost you at least $999. But the Mac is a thing of both beauty and functionality. It is also the future. When I started teaching college students seven years ago, about half of them used Macs. When I left teaching last year, a Mac was everyone’s first choice (finances permitting, of course).

Step Two: While you’re buying your love machine at the Apple Store, be sure to also purchase the $99 One-to-One membership. The membership is renewable for $99 for two additional years. One-to-One is a program that will teach you everything you want to know about computers.

Just think — these days, $100 will barely pay for a single house call from a technician, or a visit to the doctor’s office. By comparison, this program will allow you to take at least one weekly Apple lesson with a live, smart trainer who believes in customer service.

Signing up used to be more flexible — you could buy a membership whenever. But now, because the program is so popular, you can only get in on it at the time of computer purchase.

Step Three: Use that new membership! One-to-One gives you four ways to learn your Mac. For starters, you will have access on your computer to endless short videos explaining various Mac functions and software programs. You can watch them by yourself, any time. In addition to that, there are three types of training you can get in the store — any Apple Store.

  • Workshops (60-90 minutes long): Scheduled to cover a specific subject, from iPhoto (basic Mac program for everything related to picture-taking) to Final Cut Pro (a special software program that you can buy for editing video).
  • Personal Projects (2 hours long):  A small group setting with one trainer who will go around the table helping each of us with whatever we’re working on. Very flexible. You can drop in for a little while, come late, leave early. If no one else shows up, it means you can pretty much have a private tutor!
  • Personal Training (50 minutes long): This is a private session with a trainer on the topic of your choice. A true tutorial. When you schedule these appointments, you choose from a general menu of topics (eg. email issues? iPhoto? syncing your various Apple toys?). Feel free to add a note about your specific needs. You can even request a favorite trainer, who might (or might not) be working that day.

Apple has a three-minute video about One-to-One (click here to watch it). In terms of making reservations, you can schedule to take your lesson at any store, anywhere (a good tip for travelers). The reservations are made online; if you have trouble navigating  it, the trainers can help.

Remember, you can only book one Workshop at a time, one Personal Project at a time and one Personal Training session at a time. BUT, that means in one week, you can attend one Workshop, one Personal Project and one Personal Training.

Over the years, I’ve learned a few tricks that might help you maximize your One-to-One usage:

  • Get to know your store’s trainers: Apple hires very smart people. My trainers have included professional photographers, videographers, audiophiles and web developers. (Note to artists: There are even specialists in Bento, a file-organizing software program!) The store won’t tell you who you’re meeting with until you show up for your appointment. But if I walk in to work on movie-making and my tech is a sound expert, then I will make sure we focus on the audio portion of my video rather than the visual editing.
  • The store is so pleasant at 8 a.m.: Apple’s retail locations open at 10 a.m. and get insanely busy. But the training sessions begin at 8 a.m., a good time for a quiet Personal Training. I’ve also discovered that at my White Plains, N.Y. store, hardly anyone shows up for the weekend 8-10 a.m. group-oriented Personal Projects. So when I showed up, I pretty much had the trainer all to myself. Nice.
  • Game the system to get more training time: The minute you show up for any training, you have to check in. Once you check in, you can make a new appointment. So if you want to get into the store again that week, book another appointment right away; there just might still be openings. You’ll also have a better shot at getting the time slot of your choice, especially during the busy season. More on that in the next bullet point…
  • Get trained asap: Using One-to-One can be tough during the holiday season. From Halloween to Christmas, everyone and their grandma is in the store trying to learn how to make calendars and photo albums for holiday gifts. Sometime in November and December, I’ll go two weeks without finding a opening in a time slot that works for me.
  • Personal Projects + Personal Training = Person Success: After years of One-to-One, I’ve found the best learning structure for me. When the reservations openings permit, I book back-to-back sessions of 50-minute Personal Training followed by the small-group, two-hour Personal Projects. This way, I can immediately practice what I’ve just learned in the personal training.
  • Work on your own Mac: I always bring my own laptop. I’ve even seen Mac owners lug in even their big desktops for their lessons. It’s worth it because the trainers can help you with settings on your computer. And if there are problems, you can turn around and go straight to the Genius Bar for repairs. Plus, the trainers can properly issues to the Genius specialists, which is crucial for those of us who have no understanding of computer hardware.
  • Think young: During my early One-to-One days, I had an old school head. I expected the trainers to know all the answers. I also grew  frustrated and confused because different trainers offered different ways of explaining things. Then after a while, I realized that I needed to adapt to the new world. What the trainers were giving me wasn’t just the answer — but a new way to solve problems. How do I find answers? Answer: Loosen up and explore. Embrace the fumbling. That’s the way to go.

This is a long post. But now, you know everything I know about One-to-One. The only point I will add is one that some of you have heard from me in the past: As a single woman, the Mac is the best love affair I’ve ever had. My Mac is thoughtful, intuitive, smart, classy, strong, reliable, challenging, good-looking — and always remembers exactly what I like and how I like it.  Add to that the virtues of One-to-One, and the love affair grows to create a lovely life.  :)