Claim Your Virtual Space

In a series of tweets in response to my post--Not Alone: Inflexible CIOs = Failure-- yesterday about Tim Stahmer's entry about CIOs and Technology Departments blocking curriculum educators from using Chromebooks yesterday, these two statements were made:

@jeannereed1 For whatever reason, we tend to forget students when discussing many parts of education, tech included.

@mguhlin @timstahmer Does over-worked, under paid IT staff lead to forgetting about helping students? Crazy.

To speak to Jeanne's question first, Are over-worked, under-paid IT really the problem in the scenarios described in Not Alone? When you consider Tim's scenario, it's not about Chromebooks, how easy they are to manage. Rather, it's an issue of control. 

The CIO and Tech Department aren't refusing to support Chromebooks because they are difficult (I don't know any CTOs who would argue that Chromebooks are difficult to manage), but rather, because they allow a level of freedom to the end-user not possible under Microsoft Windows. I suspect that Tim's district also locks down the internet browser they allow end-users, implements Active Directory policies that don't allow people to install software, etc. Simply, they have implemented policies that require people to speak to them before they can do anything substantial with technology.

The fear in the old days was that end-users would do something to their computers and that would require someone wasting their time to fix the user's error. But these days, Chromebooks are even less onerous to manage than Windows and iOS devices. For $20 per unit, you get a management license and that makes life so easy. Chromebooks can also be "power-washed," reset to factory settings...again, it's so easy the end-user can do it.

I don't think it's about forgetting to help students, but rather, control and ensuring that IT folks don't have to learn anything new. And, in regards to control, Audrey Watters make some excellent points in her talk and subsequent blog entry, Is It Time to Give Up on Computers?, an excerpt which is shared below:
Computers are implicated in the systematic de-funding and dismantling of a public school system and a devaluation of human labor. They involve the consolidation of corporate and governmental power. They involve scientific management. They are designed by white men for white men. They re-inscribe inequality.And so I think it’s time now to recognize that if we want education that is more just and more equitable and more sustainable, that we need to get the ideologies that are hardwired into computers out of the classroom.
Of course, Audrey has some choice words for Google, too. It's a trade-off, isn't it? I give you some data about me, you make my life easier. Somewhere down the line, we sold ourselves to get devices that help us, make our lives easier, but also, enable others to violate our privacy and sell who we are to the highest bidder.

The answer to Audrey's question, a colleague insists after pondering privacy issues, is "Yes, it is time to give up on computers." Of course, it's not going to happen. 

Update: When I woke up the day after writing this post, I realized that, of course, the answer is "No!" The problem isn't the technology, but the people. What we need to do is start over with a fresh perspective. See? That wasn't so hard! ;-)

Being connected to a vibrant PLN, I couldn't imagine losing access to them. Simply, if we're going to gripe about privacy, about control, then we must step and claim your virtual space.

Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure


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