School Tech Security... Bane or Benefit?


Two things about this post:

  1. It is participatory (please comment.  Do you have similar issues?)

  2. It is a bit of a rant*

I'm frustrated.  Lately it seems that I've been running into a wall when I try to do (what I think are) fun and creative activities that are using a variety of technology initiatives.  The wall is called security.  Here are a few examples:

  • This summer I taught a unit on digital storytelling.  My students really created some wonderful final products.  We went through the whole process (scripts, storyboards and all).  When we were finished I uploaded them to vimeo... which is filtered by our system (natch).  Kind of took a bit o' wind out of the sails of my students.  Of course, they viewed them at home and no permanent damage done... other than the fact that I could not have students view each other's videos when we were in school so we could critique, discuss and otherwise utilize (and learn from) their hard work. Thanks security.

  • I really am encouraging my staff members to get comfortable using school laptops instead of their familiar and comfortable desktops (for a variety of reasons).  The only problem is that our school's wireless security is so strict that it requires them to have two different logins (one for home/one for school) and they need to tweak a couple of settings prior to getting it to work out of school (every time!).  Frankly, a few of the teachers don't think it is worth the trouble (i.e. they think laptops are complicated and now I have even more work to do).  Thanks security.

  • USB thumb drives are great, students can transport their work around and have access to it from just about anywhere... except at my school.  You see, our security software does not allow students to install drivers on school computers.  So, not all USB drives work for students unless the teacher logs in first, installs the particular drivers, then the student can use the drive... on that one computer (helpful).  Thanks, security.

  • Honestly, I could go on... but I won't.  Now these are all fairly minor and we have created work a rounds for many of the issues.  But it still frustrates me.  Technology should be seamless and invisible (or at least we should strive for that).  Otherwise it has the appearance of being difficult to, more trouble than it is worth and not useful.  With that reputation, we can almost guarantee that it won't get used.

Now I may be rambling at this point so let me ask a few questions: Is security a learning speedbump for you all out there?  Is it really a necessary evil precaution?  Also, I'm sure that security has some good points too, refresh my memory on those, please.

* And I'm not a security expert so I could be totally wrong and misguided.  I promise I'll do a bit of side research to learn a bit more about the topic :-)