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
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?
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.