I’m a little worried…

February 23, 2009 § 2 Comments

I just read a thread of conversations on TECSIG (a listserve for technology related folks in Texas schools) that was started with the simple question, “Do you allow personal laptops in your district?”

The answers, overwhelmingly, were NO. Judon ISD has plans to, and Westlake HS in Austin does, but other than those, the answer was flat out no.

Why? Is it because they pose such a serious threat to the network?  If the network is set up correctly and virus filtering is up to date, shouldn’t there be zero threat?  Can’t you just allow personal laptops on another portion of the network not connected to the main network? It makes me wonder whether the people answering these questions don’t know these things, or if they just don’t want to take the time to set them up.

I have worked on the techie side of things, and it seems to me that a lot of the time when a techie tells you it can’t be done, it just means that they don’t want to do it.

One of the people who contributed to the conversation even said that iPhones were a big problem  in their district.  How can an iPhone be a problem if it’s not even on your network?  It seems to me that it must only be a problem in that the network admin can’t control what students access on their iPhones.  Which is EXACTLY why we should be TEACHING students how to be good digital citizens instead of simply relying on a filter.

I think the iPhone is a tipping point.  It’s going to be a catalyst for us to start actually educating students on how to behave online because they’re bringing these devices that are connected to the world without the use of a school network. It’s going to cause us to rethink everything – CIPA, using phones and iPods in classrooms, wireless access in and around campuses – everything.

It’s about time our network admins got turned on their ears.


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§ 2 Responses to I’m a little worried…

  • I definitely agree with your points…so much so that I shared those perspectives in an upcoming TechEdge article (anonymized, of course). It’s time to shine the sunlight on those perspectives. The more we discuss this in the open, the better.


  • Tom Hoffman says:

    I generally agree with your points, but it is also not true that there are “zero risks” in running arbitrary computers on your network. There are lots of risks. The discussion needs to be what are the risks and do the risks outweigh the benefits.

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