Administrative Access: A Matter of Trust

I had a brief but interesting exchange on Twitter this afternoon that reminded me that many school districts—perhaps even most—do not trust their teachers enough to allow them administrative access to download software or even to petition for others to download software for them and instead issue edicts about what kinds of software teachers use. Read from the bottom up:

Nicholas Provenzano is one of my favorite folks on Twitter. He’s always sharing interesting ideas. Why, then, can’t he make use of Dropbox’s new drag-and-drop features? His district won’t allow him to install a browser besides IE. Miranda Kuykendall adds that considering IE’s security issues, her district also won’t allow its teachers to install anything else.

Why?

 

Teachers are entrusted with the care of the children in their classes. Why are they not entrusted to be sensible about what software they install on their own computers? Teachers should be allowed to download Firefox, Chrome, or Safari if they wish. If I had to use IE at work, I’d raise hell about it. Well, that’s not true. I am not a hell-raiser. But I would complain. A lot. And bring my own computer to work (I already do, but not because I have to use dodgy browsers). I hate IE with the white hot fury of a thousand suns, and if I were forced to use it for any reason… it’s too terrible to contemplate. Let me say no more.

The argument might be made that teachers will make bad choices or use their computers inappropriately if they were given administrative access to install software. I can’t really argue with that—they might. Teachers should be educated about the importance of being good stewards of their technology tools, one aspect of which is knowing which kinds of software are safe and which might be unsafe or unstable and introduce problems with their computers.

In the eight years I have worked at my school, I have always had administrative access to my own desktop. I have always been able to download and install whatever software I choose. In those eight years, I cannot think of a single instance when I’ve heard that a colleague of mine downloaded inappropriate software or used their computer in an inappropriate way.

I would hate to think that because of short-sighted folks at the district level, teachers are cut off from innovation and are subject to using software they don’t like because it is the district standard.

Given the great responsibility with which we endow teachers every day, cutting off administrative access to install software is insulting. We need to decide if we trust the adults we put in the classroom. If we don’t trust them to take care of their tools properly, given administrative access, then why are we trusting them with their students?

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