Like many of you, I occasionally do a little ranting when it comes to the problems with some of the things that go on with the technology in schools and the level of availability of different websites. I’ve also been known to rant every now and then about other things that go on with schools and learning.
Well, this isn’t one of those. In fact, over the past few weeks, I’ve had little to really rant about. I could get all worked up over the fact that I can’t access certain sites at school but instead I’ve just begun to send in requests to have them opened. I’m thinking eventually someone will get tired of the requests. In fact, as this year moves along, I’m beginning to wonder if we have reached a new stage of service that is needed for schools.
Now, Stewart Mader makes a good point in his post about this same subject.
Historically, IT’s job is to “keep the lights on” – make a set of core technology tools available to people and support them – which was fine ten, even five, years ago, but just doesn’t work the same today. The quality of tools on the web is increasing far faster than most “boxed” enterprise software, and those web tools are free or low cost, and available immediately, as opposed to going through a much more involved procedure to get access to tools on the inside, or convince IT to make them available.
As many of us who have spent any time on the internet have found, our schools, for the most part, are not able to provide many of the services that we would like to have simply because they are limited in their resources and their manpower while the web has unlimited resources and unlimited people power. Hence, many of those I have come to know are frustrated by the lack of access to programs and the almost claustrophobic control that many IT departments have over what can and cannot be done.
With this in mind, do we need to put our energies into coming up with a different system for accessing information instead of relying on the standard version that was necessary so many years ago? Cannot many of our schools become somewhat independent of the IT departments in some way, maybe by having direct cable come to the school and running a system not completely controlled by the IT department? Or is there someway to have access to our school divisions while not being under the complete control of the central IT department?
I guess I’m seeing so much change in many different areas yet I’m feeling and sensing that schools are not moving along with the change but instead trying to stifle it to a point where a few are making decisions for the many without having an understanding what the many want or can do. Can IT departments change from “keeping the lights on” to maybe making sure the doors work and allowing us to figure out what type of lights we’d like in our building. Or, because of their nature, are we doomed to continue this control and struggle over what is accessible and what isn’t? Can we come up with a solution that will allow our students to continue to speed along instead of slowing down to come to school. For that matter, is possible that our teachers who are moving along can continue to cruise instead of running into red lights all the time? (It’s not just kids who are having to slow down when they come to school!)
I’d sure like to think that, by keeping the students at the forefront, we can build toward a more wholistic solution of internet access. The tools are powerful but only if you can use them.