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EdTech Update




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What's your district's TAR score?

In a comment to one of last week's posts, Jim wrote:

I doubt MY district (which I like to nickname "China") would go for [teachers bringing their own devices to school] because they seem to be allergic to anything that's not PC-based and love the ability to block/snoop. 

There a growing schism between schools who seem to allow technology to be used in an open, productive and trusted manner and those who are TAR (Technologically Anal Retentive). Judge your own district's TAR score using the checklist below. 1 point for each item:

  1. My district does not allow staff to use their own devices on the network.
  2. My district does not allow students to use their own devices on the network.
  3. My district only supports one operating system.
  4. My district does not give teachers the choice of a laptop computer they can use outside of school.
  5. My district does not give teachers administrative rights to their computers (the ability to add software, access control panels. etc.)
  6. My district assigns passwords.
  7. My district blocks (1 point each):
    • Facebook/LinkedIn/Google+
    • Youtube
    • Twitter
    • Pandora
    • Non-school email sites
    • Blogs and wikis (including Wikipedia)
    • Anything Google (apps, sites, search, images)
  8. My district must approve all software I use.
  9. My district does not allow student work to be published to a public website.
  10. My district does not allow access to the student information system outside the district.
  11. My district does not allow students and parents access their grades and other information online.
  12. My district only offers technology training by technology department members, not staff.
  13. I need more than one password to get into my gradebook.
  14. I feel my district actively monitors my e-mail and computer use without cause.

Bonus 5 points: If your technology director cites CIPA, FERPA, or another mysterious acronym as a reason for blocking anything.

OK, here's the scale:

  • 1-5 Your school is cool. Staff and students can use the Internet as an educational tool.
  • 5-15 Your school needs to figure out a better collaborative process for determining what should and should not be blocked. 
  • 15-25 Your technology department should be re-named "The Prevention of Education Department". A concerted effort by all true educators in your district needs to be made to overthrow the Technology Czar running the place.

I am willing to add other criteria to the TAR list. Your suggestions? 

Image by Scott McLeod under Creative Commons license

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Reader Comments (8)

Great stuff- Endless potential for fun. Hi -TAR Schools? Why not try the Lite version?
Can I add a bonus point to TAR if a Local Authority (UK version of District) blocks the Scratch site at MIT with the warning page
"Blocked! This site has been identified as a social networking site and is therefore a potential risk"
Risk? To whom or what? It boils the blood sometimes but humour (ridicule) is the best antidote

January 16, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSteve

Linda wrote: "My district does not allow staff home access to their documents saved on the district's network. "There might be too many access problems and then staff might email or call the tech people." Ridiculous."

January 16, 2013 | Registered CommenterDoug Johnson

I'd be curious how the scores would change if we raised our expectations a bit. Let's change "does not allow" to "does not encourage."

Allowing students to use their own devices at school is one thing. Encouraging is another step up the ladder.

January 24, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRuss Goerend

Hi Russ,

Good point. Passivity and indifference can be nearly as discouraging as blocking. Appreciate the comment.


January 24, 2013 | Registered CommenterDoug Johnson


I should add that I think this thought activity is very useful. I've passed it along to my administrators.

Thanks for getting us thinking,

January 24, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRuss Goerend

We scored a two. We have no over-zealous network supervisor in my school. I get to make the decision on what is blocked. Pandora for bandwidth issues and Facebook is open to staff and not students. The decision maker(s) need to be close the educational environment and how things are used to make good decisions about applications and equipment!

October 2, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDave Meister

I teach in China. My school blocks everything - NY Times, sometimes the BBC, dippity, Voice Thread, Engrade, Learn Boost. Most computers are still using (pirated) Office 97.

October 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSusan

Hi Dave,

Congrats. My guess is that you have no more, if not fewer, discipline issues associated with tech use that the district that filters everything. We leave everything except porn unblocked, but do use a packshapter to give bandwidth intensive sites a lower priority.

All the best,


Hi Susan,

When I visited Beijing last winter to speak at a conference, the inconstancy of getting to my Gmail was what drove me nuts. It would almost have been better to have it blocked completely! Fortunately the school where the conference was being help has some sort of proxy set up so getting to GoogleApps was solid.

Sounds like you need more educators in on your tech planning and policy-making. Or find a better school to teach at?


October 3, 2013 | Registered CommenterDoug Johnson

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