A Shrewdness of Apes

An Okie teacher banished to the Midwest. "Education is not the filling a bucket but the lighting of a fire."-- William Butler Yeats

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Open the pod bay door, HAL....

A few suggestions to school IT people everywhere:

1. Please understand that we are busy trying to make sure that students learn. We do not have 40 hours to spend crafting a website on the software that you purchased instead of working on matters more directly related to teaching. We are not enthralled with the idea of spending more than a full week learning a bunch of code. We especially do not want to do this and then get some cartoony website that looks like third graders did the graphics. Well, maybe a third grade teacher would be okay with that. But most of us are neither IT guys nor third grade teachers.

2. I also do not have time to respond to fifteen (no kiddin') emails about WHY I prefer to use blogging software for my classroom website over your ridiculous program (see 1). If you have time to send me fifteen emails, then YOU need to find something to do. I have some papers that need grading. Perhaps you could try to enter the grades on the idiotic internet-based grading system software you have also foisted upon us. Because right now it will neither save the grades that I have spent all day putting in, nor will it let me quit. So I am in quite the Catch-22 position.

3. You also want to require every teacher in the building to take over 45 hours of computer classes, and yet there are no microphones with which to make podcasts, there are two digital cameras to split among over 200 teachers, and I have to go get extra special double secret permission before I can add any piece of freeware or download a song from iTunes to my computer for instructional purposes. Since you are out of communication 70% of the time, that usually does not happen.

4. And meanwhile, I am placed in firewall limbo when I try to access any images to liven up powerpoints-- and images would be the only thing I use them for, since my students admit that my criticism of powerpoints (ie, that the only thing a kid will write down when being shown a powerpoint is what is on the slide, and nobody wants to read a slide with more than ten words of text on it) is valid.

5. And then, every year, there is the debacle over the software crashing (and often crashing the servers) when students are trying to register for next year's classes. Since my classes always go first, they are always the guinea pigs when this happens. Madness then ensues.

6. The excuse behind the internet-based grading system we use, meanwhile, was that it would save us labor. Since I now have to keep both a paper gradebook and the internet-based one, I think that that claim certainly doesn't hold water (and by the way, neither does my keyboard, and my roof sprang a leak last year right over my desk over a weekend. That was fun).

7. How about the next time we marry ourselves to some software company, we do a check to see if their customer service level rises above something better than, "We have no interest in fixing that problem right now." Which is what you told us the company actually said the last time the software went through a systematic meltdown.


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At 2/22/09, 6:57 PM, Blogger Ms Characterized said...


A week ago, our campus IT dude tracked down my colleague on her prep the day that he was ready to "solve her printing problem." When she replied "What problem," he pulled out the work order.

From October.

(Does he really think she could afford to wait that long?! She solved it her damn self.)

At 2/22/09, 9:33 PM, Blogger Amerloc said...

I had an interesting couple of years being the "backup IT dude." The district had created the responsibility when they realized they would be pulling the compensated pro off campus for meetings with disturbing frequency, so he could be exposed to all the miraculous software the district had purchased.

The upside was that I had all of his powers: if I got a new kid, I could create a network account on the fly; I could install any software I needed on the machines in my room; I could give my yearbook students the access they needed to store files on the school server.

The downside was that every other teacher in the building knew where I was if they couldn't find him. Most days they couldn't, and to this day I carry a bit of a grudge against the concept of an IT position at all. And I've been retired nearly four years.

I entirely understand your observations, Mrs. C.

At 2/23/09, 7:08 AM, Blogger bev said...

I left the IT biz to become a teacher. Mainly because even in a business setting, the software an IT guy is expected to support is something hacked together in someone's garage and expected to fly.

I student taught at a private school where all of the students had laptops and every classroom had a printer. Heaven, right? Uh. No. Hell.

When I left my IT job, a former co-worker asked what I was going to do. When I said that I was going to teach art, co-worker said: "Wrong. You're going to be the art teacher that helps everyone else with their computer problems."

Methinks that co-worker got an "A" in divination class.

At 2/24/09, 11:03 PM, Blogger Dan Edwards said...

How did you get our IT people???? No really, you are way too far away for them to get their lazy asses in gear to screw up your school.

(Note: my lack of computer literacy will be noted)

At my school, we have whatever is required for computers to be internet accessable at anytime (wireless?) But, no ones district issued computer can access the wireless network or whatever its called because they won't do whatever is necessary to make the district computers wireless accessable/compatable....

A new Mac Computer was placed in my classroom to provide me with "better" internet access for some online attendance and grade reporting scheme. However, they won't/can't seem to hook it up to a printer, so I cannot print anything off this computer.

We don't believe in consistency; some classrooms have Macs, some have PC's.....a real mish-mosh of electronic equiptment. Many people gripe about equiptment failures; lcd projector bulbs burning out, stuff just plain not working, e-mails that vanish ( I have sent several e-mails to myself at home from my school computer (the one that used to be hooked up to the internet) and I never recd. them. Likewise, I sent myself e-mails from home to classroom computer and they never arrived. Nor did any "Your message bounced" memo ever pop up....

And, technology such as this is going to make our life easier and provide us with more free time to play and enjoy life?

At 2/26/09, 5:26 AM, Blogger askthehomediva said...

Your post would be hilarious if it weren't true in so many schools. I'm blessed with great IT people where I currently work, but I wasn't at previous places of employment.

Sadly, your first point is always true, or by the time I finally get around to trying something out, I've forgotten what it was I learned at that inservice, I can't read my notes or I can't find my notes. :-(

At 2/27/09, 12:49 AM, Blogger "Ms. Cornelius" said...

Oh, and by the way, we are at hour 86 and counting for the blasted grading software not to work (she muttered bitterly into the hazy smoke issued from the smoke coming from her lips.... Has she relapsed into a long-dead cigarette habit, or is her brain just aflame from frustration? Who knows????)

At 2/27/09, 4:31 PM, Blogger Nic said...

We have the software gradebook (which uploads to a website that parents rarely use, preferring the old-fashioned method of harrasment via phone)AND the old-fashioned write-in-the-little-boxes paper-filled binder, too. Ditto for attendance. I refuse to do both the computer AND ticking off little boxes with a pen (seriously...why don't they just issue us a quill and inkpot, too?)---8 times a year I print the gradebooks for each class, and then staple them in sections in the binder, and then do the same for the previous 4 week's attendance. At the beginning of each section I write a little note explaining what I've printed out, then turn THAT pile in at the end of the year. I find even having to print out snd store hard copies this way redundant, though.

At 3/12/09, 4:41 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry to take up your comment space with this, but I sense a really good writing piece that has Scotty yelling at Kirk, "SHE CANNA TAKE ANYMORE, CAPT'N!! Well, I mean she 'could' take more because she's running at 80% efficiency, but that would mean more work for me. You'll just haft'a try'n out run the Klingons with warp 5 today. And next time, Capt'n, could'ya send me an email to my terminal instead of yell'n down the intercom? I know the intercom is in place and all, but we don't really support that system any more. If you can keep it work'n, then feel free to use it. Sure, we use it all the time and rely on it down in engineering, but we can't keep going all the way up to the bridge to reset yours. Oh, and Corporal Expendable says you were wanting to install new torpedoes that would penetrate the hardened Klingon hulls. Um, we don't know about that new technology, so we're installing an untested torpedo that was either cheaper or looked cooler and actually more expensive. It looked really cool on the Federation internet, so we'll test it next time we go into battle with a swarm of Klingon battleships. We don't think it'll fail. "

I'd go on, but I'm getting even more frustrated and sad....

At 3/23/09, 7:47 PM, Blogger "Ms. Cornelius" said...

MMC-- You are MY kind of writer!

Of course, the needs of the one (the IT dude) outweighs the needs of the MANY (those of us trying to pull grades out of our hats when the computer program freezes up yet again....

I am sure we could trade sci-fi nerd quotes till the cows come home-- or until the internet actually stays functional for an entire week. Me, I'm betting on the cows.


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