Filter Fun at Weblogg-ed.com

An article entitled Filter Fun over at webblog-ed.com laments the issues that educators commonly run into with web filters. It seems to have sparked some debate. Many educators comments are sympathizing and an IT admin or two comments with some feedback.

At least one IT guy was a jerk:

It’s also a matter of funding. Ever hear of E-Rate? If not you may want to read it about it.

It’s also about The Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) http://www.e-ratecentral.com/CIPA/cipa_policy_primer.pdf

“Filtering is required for all of an E-rate recipient’s Internet-enabled computers whether used by minors or adults”

So unless you want staff fired to make up the hundreds of thousands of dollars saved, stop you whining and look for other sites that are open that you can use. Stop being so lazy and grow up. My goodness you sound like a bunch of little kids. Act like an adult and maybe you’ll be treated as one.”

I am an instructor at Fountainhead College of technology. I am researching web 2.0 tools and how they can be incorporated into the classroom. I have more leeway than public schools but I remember what it is like to implement these filters for schools and businesses. I just had to fire back:

” This kind of attitude can get you fired quick.

As an IT Administrator, Part-time consultant and Educator myself I strongly recommend that you keep the following in mind:

1. “No” is not an Information Technology Management plan.

2. It is NOT your network. You didn’t buy it. You don’t own it. Even if you did, the network isn’t for you.

3. The network is for people to use. That is why they are called “users”.

4. It is common curtisey to let people know what changes you are making, when you are making them, and how it might impact them BEFORE you make the changes.

5. If people can’t use the network the network is is useless. If the network is useless then the IT Department is useless.

6. The most secure network that isn’t susceptible to down time or errors looks like a hallway closet. It is a small room with nothing but coats in it. You only need a coat when you are leaving the building.

7. IT is a service. Service means “to serve.” The ultimate purpose of an IT department is to serve the customer.

8. In education, staff and educators are your customers.

9. You will never get the IT job done. Never. Accept it. Get over it. Serve your customers.

10. Customers want to be included. If you include your customers in the conversation you will be surprised by what they know. Educators are, in general, intelligent. You don’t get a degree and end up stupid.

11. Make friends, don’t alienate your customers. If you alienate your customers they will work around your best efforts, make your life a living hell and then they will fire you.

12. The more friends you have in IT the more eyes you have on the network. You would be surprised about what you miss.

13. You should be excited that Educators are interested in technology at all. Work with them. Empower your customers.

It would be nice if educators could walk a mile in our shoes. I have (am) working both sides of the fence and I would like to think that I understand both sides. People have short fuses when what they did yesterday doesn’t work today because somebody fliped a switch without letting them know. Software developers HATE it when you push out updates without letting them know.

I have handled these kind of issues very successfully in the past. This is what worked for me.

I found out what I needed to accomplish. I looked at what I thought must happen to get it done. I put the problem back on them. I told them the about the issues and the benchmarks I needed to make. I asked one or two of them to test the policy and help others test the policy. We would discuss what we could and could not compromise on. Then I would implement the changes. They often found things that I had missed. They also occasionaly taught me eaiser ways to do certain things. They were involed. They were empowerd. They loved me.

I was able to do everything I needed and most of what I wanted to do. Everyone took responsibility. Everyone helped. Once they felt like they had a say they felt like they had an investment. They helped me make sure the policy was working right. They found the blind spots I missed. It is difficult to swallow crow and go back to the IT guy and tell him you messed up. They take responsibility for what they agreed to and generally accepted the consequences. This kind of bottom up approach builds trust and good will.

If you are in IT then you will agree that you need all the trust, good will and help you can get. Empower your users. They will empower you.”

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