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Sunday
May072017

It's about keeping users, not IT, happy

Last week, my friend Tim Stahmer, reacted to Microsoft's announced Windows 10S in a post called Keeping IT Happy. Windows 10S is supposed to help simplify the management of Windows devices in an educational setting, offering an experience similar to ChromeOS. Tim's take:

...one primary reason why technology in the classroom is so screwed up: many, if not most, schools and districts make purchasing decisions based on what will make IT happy.

IT wants devices that make their jobs easier, something that is easy to clone, lock down, and control. From a central, remote location, please. The needs and wants of teachers are secondary. And students? Well, we rarely ask them about anything to do with what goes into their education anyway, so their opinion doesn’t count.

First Tim, you should know by now that it is impossible to make IT happy. Get over it.

But I would look at the value such a system has from another teacher/student-centric perspective.

First, tech that is simple and fast to manage works more reliably, and reliability might be of more value than customizability for the bulk of our staff and students. Where do we really want our users to spend their time - in the OS or a command line futzing around or using productivity and communication tools to get things accomplished?

Second, the fewer dollars we need to spend on tech staff to manage devices, the more dollars from our zero-sum tech budgets we can spend on user hardware, software, subscriptions, PD, etc. Any economies I realize through efficient management of technology with only minor compromises in end-user "freedoms" of unproved value, I will take.

As IT director I do my best to find solutions that make as many people happy as possible, including my overworked IT staff, my hardworking teachers, and my curious, demanding students (and parents and the business office and the school board and...) It is tough pleasing everyone.

So yeah, we in IT do like solutions that make our job easier. But not necessarily because we are lazy  control freaks. Some of are educators as well.

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Reader Comments (1)

Thanks for keeping me honest, Doug. My rant may have been a little harsh but it's all about perspective. In a small system where the instructional and techie people actually interact with each other, the focus is likely more on the users. In the large (and overly-large) districts with which I'm more familiar, not so much.

And my point, which was probably not made as well as I thought, is that the industry as a whole is more interested in control and ease of management than they are in the needs and wants of teachers, and especially students. Indeed, many IT folks in the district I used to work for view students as a threat to the stability of their network, a phrase actually used by a technician.

May 10, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterTim Stahmer

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