The pendulum swings for school technology leaders

It wasn’t that long ago that networking came into schools – about 15 years ago. Networks brought trepidation from some, excitement from others. The one thing it brought to most everyone I was working with at the time was a bad technology experience. From my vantage point what got in the way of creating a good experience was fear and lack of understanding (even from the technologists). Roaming profiles were one tool that made logins processes slow and needlessly bloated. Annoying, but not that core of the problem. Fear lead to locking down the network. Remember when wireless connections where heresy? Funny for me to think about that.

Networks were built to check a box. Yup, we have this technology thing. Often they were slapped together by the lowest bidder and locked down to a point of near uselessness. People tend to fear what they don’t understand and federal regulations didn’t help. The connection to the web was over-filtered in the name of CIPA.

Then the iPads showed up. In typical education/Apple fandom the potential between the use of wireless devices and learning was hypothesized from that first introduction in 2010. Wireless networks here we come! The smart districts invested in robust solutions for wireless access. Filters were pealed back as the learning side of the technology equation got a seat at the table, and in some cases a louder voice in the debate.

Some of this was great. Great for learning, innovative options for teachers, the use of relevant, flexible devices for students. Along the way, a few things were side stepped. There was a rush to access for networks. A rush to access for tools. Agreements were signed without reading them like they were shrink wrap licenses. Security best practices weren’t followed.

Thankfully we’ve woken up from this and are thinking about security and privacy. InBloom helped move this conversations to the forefront in 2014. Today, Facebook has made it a national conversation. Cybersecurity awareness is on the forefront with many school technology leaders. Internal audits are happening. Encryption is in the lexicon of many folks. Thank goodness the pendulum has swung back. Hopefully this time it’ll be in the – as Doug Johnson would call it – the Radical Middle.

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