- About Ira David Socol
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- The Change.Org Posts
- IdeaChat 11 February 2012
- Counting the Origins of Failure
- Technology: The Wrong Questions and the Right Questions
- Today's "School Reformers" vs Real Change for Education - I
- Today’s “School Reformers” vs Real Change for Education - II
- The Toolbelt and Universal Design - Education For Everyone
- "Evaluate that!" - Schools for Children
12 November 2008
Guest Post: Fear vs. Educational Possibility
I was going to open this post with a quote from Allen Ginsberg, but then I realized, it isn't my generation that worries me.
I recently got to see Jeff Keltner, one of Google Apps' for Education evangelists, present on the advantages of cloud computing and Google Apps for universities. I learned a few things—Google Apps is free to education and non-profits, Docs Spreadsheets now have an automatic form input, Google Moderator is like a pre-meeting Today's Meet—but I was ultimately disappointed. Not by Mr. Keltner, but by some faculty members who chose to dominate the question period.
Google Apps is used by Arizona State University, Trinity College Dublin, and dozens of other universities and colleges. So it's obviously legal and the lawyers make sure it's FERPA-compliant, and we can worry about other things, right?
In the half-hour Q&A, only one question was asked about the educational affordances of the Google services (no, it doesn't support LaTeX or MathML). Every other question was about the EULA. That might be unfortunate anywhere, but we weren't assembling as the faculty of the nuclear physics, this is a top-rated College of Education.
Remember, of course, that institutional users are covered by the institutional agreement, not the consumer EULA, and don't see advertisements.
No one asked about resources or communities for teachers and professors. No one asked about examples of how to use the tools in classrooms. No one even asked "Why? What would we gain?" Instead, everyone wants to play lawyer and internet privacy expert.
Why? Those don't seem like exceedingly fun jobs. No one in this room, not even me, knows exactly what privacy measures are in place down in the IT department. We don't understand the interplay of FERPA and the US PATRIOT ACT. We don't know if we hired anyone to install the local e-mail system or built it from scratch.
The Law, though, is the perfect excuse for fear. The Law says we can't. We'll get in trouble with The Law.
Too often too many members of the faculty are so afraid of losing control—even of something they don't actually control, like e-mail—that they'll call on the big, mean Law to protect what's "theirs." They are paralyzed by that fear; they can't move.
And if they can't even give up control of their e-mail servers, how will they ever give up any control to a learner-centered classroom?
- Sent by a friend who'd rather remain Anonymous
Just a note on Google Apps. For free (zero money) your school (primary, secondary, higher ed) can have a self-branded (.edu), institutionally controlled, email and interactive document system - a system which encourages collaboration, accountability, accessibility, and maybe even creativity. How much is your school paying for an email system? Whate else might you do with that money?