We can do better than this


Some random technology-related incidents that I have seen and heard about during the first few weeks of school here in Iowa…

1. Big Brother

Nothing says ‘students, get excited about our new 1:1 initiative!’ like frequent, numerous, vehement reminders from administrators during the rollout that WE ARE WATCHING YOU and that WE CAN SEE EVERYTHING ON YOUR SCREENS AT ALL TIMES.

2. More sign-offs than buying a house

Nothing says ‘students, get excited about your new laptop!’ like both students and parents having to initial each and every one of the items below AND having to sign their name twice for the overall list.

  1. I understand that I am responsible for my use of the district technologies and the use of the tools is for academic and educational purposes.
  2. I will practice digital citizenship by using information and technology responsibly, legally, and ethically.
  3. I understand the use of the Internet and technology is a privilege and not a right; there are consequences for not adhering to the Acceptable Use Policy.
  4. I will honor property rights and copyrights with information and technology.
  5. I will keep my intellectual property safe by saving in specified locations, using and safeguarding passwords, and using my own account at all times.
  6. I will practice personal safety by safeguarding identities while online or offline.
  7. I will not participate in any form of cyber-bullying or harassment.
  8. I will use technology in a respectful manner, sharing equipment and resources.
  9. I will only use district-approved technology, tools, resources, and applications while on [the district’s] campuses.
  10. I understand that users must use the district wireless access points; no personal or other access points should be used while on [district] campuses.
  11. I understand that personally-owned devices are not allowed on district networks nor used for online access.
  12. I will not attempt to use any software, utilities, applications, or other means to access Internet sites or content blocked by filters.
  13. I will not capture video, audio, or pictures without the consent of all persons being recorded, their knowledge of the media’s intended use, as well as the approval of a staff member.
  14. I will report any problems with the equipment, resources, or network to a teacher or administrator in a timely manner.
  15. I understand that the district’s technology resources are the property of the district. I have no expectation of privacy with respect to any materials therein, and all use of district technology resources may be monitored without notice.
  16. I understand that I may be responsible for any damage or loss I cause to district technology resources.
  17. I have read the acceptable use policy, which [sic] are incorporated by reference herein, and agree to the stated conditions in this form as well as in the entire policy and regulations. I also agree to abide by any school technology handbook which may be applicable.
  18. I understand that I am responsible for taking care of my laptop and accessories, including proper cleaning, avoiding hot and cold temperatures, and storing the laptop in the district-provided case.
  19. I will not leave my laptop unattended unless it is locked in a secure place. I (or parents) may be fully responsible for the cost of replacement should my laptop become lost or stolen.
  20. I understand that I (or parents) may be fully responsible for the cost of repair or replacement due to damages that occur to the laptop issued to me or damages I am responsible for on another person’s laptop.
  21. I will bring the laptop to school every day and to the best of my abilities have it fully charged.
  22. I will use the laptop for educational purposes and in accordance with the handbook and other applicable [district] policies, including, but not limited to, policy [ZZZ]. I will use academically-appropriate sounds, music, video, photos, games, and applications.
  23. I will not attempt to use any software, utilities, applications, or other means to access Internet sites or content blocked by filters. [duplicate!]
  24. I will only use the laptop’s recording capabilities for academic purposes, with consent of the participants, their knowledge of the media’s intended use, and staff approval.
  25. I will report any problems with my laptop to a member of the technology staff in a timely manner. The only technology support for the [district] laptops are [sic] through the [district] technology department, not a store or technology service.
  26. I understand that the district owns the laptop and has the right to collect and inspect the laptop at any time. I have no expectation of privacy in the laptop on [sic] any materials and/or content contained therein.
  27. While off campus, I will abide by [district’s] policies and agreement with respect to the use of the laptop, including but not limited to the 21st century learning handbook and board policy [ZZZ].
  28. I will only use public or personally-owned access points and not privately-owned points without the owner’s permission.
  29. I will turn in the laptop and accessories on or before the designated day and location, or prior to my leaving the [district].
  30. We have read the [district] 21st century learning handbook and policy [ZZZ] (acceptable use), which are incorporated by reference herein, and agree to the stated conditions. Questions or accommodations regarding the device would be directed to your building principals.

3. RTF or WTF?

Nothing says ‘students, get excited about your faculty’s technology knowledge!’ like your community college professor sending you a bunch of .RTF files to start the course.

4. Nope, and nope

Parent: “The kids all have laptops. Can we use this free online graphing calculator program instead of having to shell out $100+ for a separate graphing calculator?” School: Nope.

Student: “We all have laptops. I know you cited some random study that I will retain more if I handwrite my notes but I’m an A+ student even when I type my notes. Plus there are many things that I can do with digital notes that I can’t when they’re handwritten. Can I use my laptop for notetaking?” Teacher: Nope.

I think we can do better than this. How about you? What would you add from your own first few weeks of school?

Image credit: Warning – this computer is monitored!, David King

11 Responses to “We can do better than this”

  1. Excellent! Dare I share this with our tech people??!!!!

  2. A distressing large number of those rules are of the form “I’ve read these OTHER rules too…”

    Are they teaching recursion on purpose in this course? 😉

  3. Sara Carter (@saracarterok) Reply September 21, 2014 at 8:13 am

    I have never read anything so true, yet so very sad.

    Unfortunately, you left out all the rules about printing from the school’s computers. (Recent edict from above.)


  4. There needs to be a balance of supporting learning and making sure the computers are taken care of. But, man, this list is crazy huge!
    One policy in our district is that students cannot receive emails from outside the district. So, they can’t sign up for any sort of web service because they can’t get that reality check email to prove they are human.
    With all the electronic connections they already have, wouldn’t it be useful to help them learn appropriate ways to communicate using school resources? Rather than ignoring the world outside our grounds?

  5. Also, not allowing students to type work is crazy. Even though some people seem to do better with handwriting, wait a few years when these kids are adults and barely use a pen/cil. Don’t you think their brains will work quickly and thoroughly by typing. Actually, they will just talk their thoughts soon enough.
    Honestly, I don’t have my students hand in actual paper any more. It is so much more efficient and fast for them to submit by sharing the doc on Google and for me to add comments. No lost work and easier for me to see revisions.

  6. The Teacher Evaluation System rates educators on their use of technology in the classroom and ability to integrate technology into the curriculum, but district policies make that incredibly difficult! How can I encourage students to explore technology in my classroom when they aren’t allowed to have visible cell phones or tablets on the premises? “Well, you can only use the technology this school district sees fit, regardless of how obsolete it is.”

  7. Holy buckets. I’m almost speechless.

  8. As an extension of this, read most HS handbooks. Typically it is 11-12 pages of threats and “though shalt not’s” and 0 or 1 on student leadership, efficacy, owning their learning, etc. Our institution’s default cultural tendency towards managing complexity by creating rules and threats just makes things more complex and difficult. Central office does it to principals, principals do it to teachers, teachers do it to students. Here’s a crazy idea: lets remove the things that isolate and separate us so that we may interact as human beings. Things like class periods and de-contextualized subjects, courses and content; restrictive rules that manage all to manage the 3%; age-based structures, and; keeping children isolated and away from their community by holding them up in a lifeless building.

  9. Rules, rules, rules… the more you have the less they mean (“control” is an illusion!). As a former principal of a school we decided to have only two rules: 1. Is it safe? 2. Is it thoughtful? How great were the discussions about what safe and thoughtful meant!? If a student was having a difficulty with behavior we could ask them how they justified either. It was quite simple to talk about any manner of behavior within this simple framework. It was not about “following rules” as much as about learning civil behavior.

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