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EdTech Update




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What's your TAR score? (Technologically Anal Retentive)

About 5 years ago I developed a scale to measure how restrictive/open a school district is in giving acces to technology resources to its students and staff. I've updated it a bit below. My perception is that the access gap between the most and least restrict schools has grown, not shrunk, over the past few years...


There a growing schism between schools who  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 does not have a guest wireless network.
  4. My district only supports a single computer operating system and/or a single student device.
  5. My district does not give teachers the choice of a laptop computer they can use outside of school.
  6. My district does not give teachers administrative rights to their computers (the ability to add software, access control panels. etc.)
  7. My district does not give students personally assigned devices (1:1) that can be used outside of school.
  8. My district does not allow students to keep their 1:1 devices over the summer.
  9. My district requires mandatory password change and had mandated password criteria.
  10. My district blocks (1 point each):
    • Facebook
    • Instagram
    • Snapchat
    • Youtube
    • Twitter
    • Music streaming (Pandora, Spotify)
    • Netflix
    • Non-school email sites
    • Blogs and wikis (including Wikipedia)
    • Anything Google (apps, sites, search, images)
  11. My district must approve all software I use.
  12. My district does not allow student work to be published to a public website.
  13. My district does not allow access to the student information system outside the district by staff.
  14. My district does not allow students and parents access their grades and other information online.
  15. My district only offers technology training by technology department members, not staff.
  16. My district does not allow staff access from outside school to materials stored on district servers.
  17. I feel my district actively monitors my e-mail and computer use without cause.
  18. My district does not have a process for getting a website unblocked.
  19. My district uses an "opt in" rather than a "opt-out" process for getting parental permission to use applications.
  20. My district prohibits student cell phone use.

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 (2)

I question Netflix being on your list. We block it because it is against the Netflix user agreement to use it in the classroom:

The Netflix service and any content viewed through our service are for your personal and non-commercial use only. During your Netflix membership, we grant you a limited, non-exclusive, non-transferable, license to access the Netflix service and view Netflix content through the service. Except for the foregoing limited license, no right, title or interest shall be transferred to you. You agree not to use the service for public performances.

Also, in our district, we don't have a guest network because everyone uses one WIFI network that is not password protected. :-)

We are a 5....

February 9, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterRyan Collins

Hi Ryan,

I would argue that the use of a Netflix movie if shown for educational purposes falls under Fair Use guidelines. The same prohibitions on use that Neflix cites also appear on rental and purchased DVDs. We also leave Netflix unblocked so kids can use their 1:1 devices at home to watch movies if they have a family account.

Now if teachers are using Netflix for simply entertainment or reward, that is a different beast.


February 9, 2018 | Registered CommenterDoug Johnson

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