Bill MacKenty

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Security and the absense of reason

Posted in Educational Tech platform Security on 26 - September 2007 at 01:37 AM (16 years ago). 204 views.

I had (am having) an interesting conversation with my supervisor.  Several Elementary school teachers have expressed concerns that their computers (Windows XP) are locked down to tightly - that they cannot install trivial peripherals, try new software, etc…

My position in our conversation is that a few trusted users should be granted power-user privileges.  It strikes me as asinine that computers are put into a teachers room, and then so locked down that the teacher cannot use them!  This is a classic fear-based response to network management, and qualifies as a “think-about-what-is-easiest-for-the-network-administrator-and-not-the-teacher” error. As I’ve mentioned before on this blog, there is a connection between how a teacher feels about technology and how the teacher implements technology.

Should a network be wide-open, with full administrator access to everything? no. Should a school be skillfully managed, balancing the needs of the users versus the needs of the organization? Yes. It makes me crazy when this happens in schools…what if we said to our kids…here is a computer, but you can only do 5 things with it…don’t bother exploring, or engendering curiosity… it’s better for everyone if the device just sits there, locked down.

Of course, these are windows machines, so some extra effort must be taken to keep them safe. But when security locks down a machine so much a user can’t explore it or use it, or try anything new, it’s an object-lesson in frustration.

Allow trusted users limited administrative access so they can experience the joy of trying something new in the teachable moment - the moment when they see something and want to try something, curious, motivated, and engaged.