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SCHOOL-IT  February 2010

SCHOOL-IT February 2010

Subject:

Virus epidemic and Personalizing technology

From:

Craig Lyndes <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

School Information Technology Discussion <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Sat, 13 Feb 2010 09:07:09 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

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Parts/Attachments

text/plain (85 lines)

Folks,

First, thanks to all of you for responding to my query regarding this 
most recent virus outbreak.  One thing I learned from the many useful 
replies was that our practice of giving adults administrator access to 
their dedicated work computers is certainly adding to the problems we 
are having with this virus.  This has caused me to do some pondering 
about our practices and the price we pay to achieve the goals we have 
set out.

A cost benefit analysis.

In any school, and most organizations I imagine, you have people with 
varying levels of comfort with technology.  When we decided that using 
technology as an integral part of every students learning experience was 
something we needed to do, it became necessary to look at ways to get 
all of the faculty to the highest level of technical proficiency 
possible.  Some people take to using technology like ducks to water.  
They were no problem.  Then there is a group that isn't really 
enthusiastic, but they'll give it a try, especially if they are 
convinced that it will improve their student's learning.  The people we 
are really having to work with fall somewhere on a spectrum from not 
interested to totally afraid of computers and want nothing to do with 
them.  One strategy I've seen work with this later group of "reluctant" 
technology users is for them to discover a use for technology that 
relates directly to their personal lives.  Sometimes it is Skyping with 
a grand child or organizing their photographs into slide shows.  All of 
a sudden this person is learning computer skills that you could not 
force them to at the barrel of a gun.  It is an easy sell then to say, 
"How about making slide shows with your kids?", and the first step is 
taken and a fear of technology is overcome.

Barriers prevent all users, whether the pioneers or the Luddites, from 
using technology.  Not being able to install a printer, a plugin or even 
that neat program your peer in another school just emailed you a link to 
is a barrier.  Feeling like "they" think you are incapable of using your 
own computer in a responsible way, so they don't trust you with full 
control is a barrier and an excuse to not take responsibility.  Possibly 
never making mistakes because things are so locked down only the 
pre-approved uses are available.  We all learn from mistakes.

Is our job as technology people in schools to provide a tool for a 
narrowly defined purpose?  Or is it to cultivate a faculty that is 
technically proficient and able to grow and adapt to new technologies, 
even innovating without the permission or oversight of the IT department?

The cost.

This outbreak is pointing out all the "one off" computers that we do not 
have images for.  I just spent 6 hours re-installing everything on a 
Sony Avio laptop that didn't even have drivers on the Sony site (they 
would be more than willing to sell you a CD).  Images are absolutely 
necessary.  One off computers are unsupportable.

With imaging people are told that they must back up their work, if we 
re-image the computer anything stored on the hard drive is lost.  Some 
people do this, many don't.  Thank heavens for Knoppix live CD and those 
free USB sticks Dell just sent out.  Still, it would be nice if people 
would take responsibility for their own stuff.

Training - in a school in the 5th year of AYP there is no time.  To 
suggest training so people can avoid the most recent virus outbreak is 
totally impossible.  So email and copier meetings.  This gets to the 
people who "get it".  The people who need it the most only learn the 
lesson when their computer is infected.  Never the less, they still 
learn (see making mistakes above).

While I'm spending several days a week fixing computers that are 
infected with viruses I am not setting up the iScsi NAS to prevent the 
server from running out of room.  When the day comes when we do use up 
the last megabyte no one will care why I wasn't prepared.  Support is a 
finite resource, if it is being used to achieve one goal (technology 
proficient staff) you may not be able to achieve all other goals (wide 
spread use of multimedia in the classroom, requiring huge amounts of 
network storage).  What is the best way to make these prioritizations?  
Is it just up to the network admin?  Does anyone else have time or care 
enough to sit down and look at these issues?

I've rambled on enough.  Thanks again to everyone who chimed in, and may 
we all have successful technology using schools.

Craig Lyndes
FCSU
>

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