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?

Related posts:

Google Chrome is Live

About midnight today, Google launched their new browser Google Chrome in beta.  It’s not available for Mac or Linux yet.  My husband uses a Windows desktop and downloaded it today, and he thinks he’s in love.  Here’s a video about some of Chrome’s features:

Please enable Javascript and Flash to view this Flash video.

I love Firefox.  I love it very much.  But if Google does for browsing what it did for search, I may be tempted to at least try it.  I’m pretty faithful to my pet technologies, but I’ve ditched Movable Type for WordPress and Netscape Navigator for Internet Explorer, and Internet Explorer for Firefox.  I’ll be interested to see how Firefox addresses this new competition.

Related posts:

Google Chrome

ReadWriteWeb has an article about Google’s development of a new browser called Chrome.  I followed the link and I like these features:

  • It’s open source.
  • It will have a task manager so users can track memory usage.
  • The default homepage is a “speed dial” type feature with thumbnails of the most frequently visited Web pages.

I’m not sure I like the idea of tabs on the top instead of under the address bar, but that’s just because I’m used to Firefox.  And I love Firefox; I’m not sure I’d switch for these kinds of services, though Firefox can be a memory hog — it’s noticeable on the four-year-old desktop our family shares, but not on my new Mac or school computer.  Then again, I really related to this cartoon from XKCD:

Related posts: