School starts next week, & I need to put in a bunch of work orders for my district computer. Last year my district supplied laptops for all teachers, which was great, but – none of us have administrative rights on these laptops, which means that I can’t:
- install any software updates
- update any browser plug-ins – Flash, etc.
- install any open source, free software – I don’t even bother to ask about these, I’m usually turned down – other than a few exceptions, they don’t “trust” open source software
The Flash updates, etc. are supposed to happen automatically when I’m connected to the district’s network, but they don’t always – if they send out the update on an evening when I take the laptop home, then my laptop isn’t updated. It’s supposed to happen the next time I logon to the network, but it doesn’t always happen that way, or – the update starts as soon as I logon the next morning, & the computer becomes virtually unusable for up to an hour while the updates are downloaded & installed, which makes using the Smart Board for my first class either difficult or impossible. Of course, they don’t usually send out any notice telling us when updates will be sent out (so we can leave our laptops turned on at school in the evening).
Not being able to do Flash & Shockwave updates myself is particularly frustrating, because so many of the interactive websites I use w/ my students are dependent on those plug-ins. Then, there’s the whole audio deal – I’m fairly capable when it comes to using iTunes (like relocating the iTunes Library), & other media players, etc., but – my technician, while a nice guy, just isn’t that familiar w/ these kinds of software, unfortunately, which makes things difficult – iTunes tells me I don’t have “rights” to do things like relocate the Library, set the “default media player”, etc., but he doesn’t always know a whole lot about how to do these kinds of things. I once got a recommendation (from somebody who knew) about another district technician who was very familiar w/ computer audio, iTunes, etc., & I wanted to contact him to help me – I was even going to come to his building on my vacation, w/ the laptop, but – his boss in Dist. Tech told me not to contact him, said he was “already too busy”. There’s no doubt that our district technicians are way overworked, the one at my building also services two other buildings, he’s prob. responsible for maintaining at least 300 – 400 computers, all on his own.
Anybody else feel like you’re held hostage to your district’s technicians/Tech Dept.? None of them have any experience as educators, the head of our district Tech Dept. is a good guy, but he comes from the business world, not education, & his main initiative has been to replicate a business model – our network is all Microsoft, w/ permissions restrictions on computers, using the “My Documents” synchronization network function, & a Sharepoint site (more permissions, etc.). While some of us teachers are trying to integrate technology w/ student learning, Dist. Tech’s main concerns are the network, viruses, & keeping the kids from accessing “objectionable” websites – their network filtering software won’t allow any access to sites that have “games”, there’s no distinction between legitimate online learning games & stuff like “World of Warcraft”, etc.
And that’s today’s rant, but here’s something fun – check out how nicely this program reacts to finger motion & pressure, really replicates the feel of jammin’ on a loud electric guitar nicely: