I have always chuckled--with a side of cynicism and bitterness--about how as teachers we are left alone for hours with a room full of minors. As certified educators, it's just obvious professionally that we can be trusted with the lives and well being of all those kids. When it comes to managing the technology we use in our classrooms, however, we teachers are shown very little trust. In my school system, teachers don't have the user rights to even add new fonts to Microsoft Word on our classroom workstations. That happens only if you submit a work ticket and wait for someone from the tech department to come at some later date and install those fonts for you. Something that takes less than a minute to do on a home computer is a week long process at school. (Or longer.)
I obviously have only worked for a few different school districts in my career, but the "on-loan technology" attitude has been fairly consistent. I do hear the occasional teacher from elsewhere mention how he or she has a progressive-minded tech department, but I assume a larger number of classroom teachers share an existence similar to mine. I have gotten acclimated to the ours-not-yours hierarchy of school technology, but last week an annoying reminder irked me for an afternoon.
At some point this semester, my computer picked up the pesky "mediaplayer" malware. While on the web, many pages load with annoying ad banners floating all over the screen, or the page I'm trying to go to gets redirected elsewhere. I looked up what exactly was infecting my computer and how to remove it. Of course, my user rights are so locked down on my teacher workstation that I can't do things like this. At home, this would have been resolved in 10-15 minutes, start to finish. So, I submit a work order to the tech department. A week later someone comes by to re-image my hard drive.
I explained I did not want my hard drive erased and re-imaged. I asked if they could just remove the malware. I was told that was too much trouble. I suggested giving me admin rights on my workstation for an afternoon and I would fix it myself. No way. (You'd think I asked for someone's social security number and bank account info.) The only option I was given was either have my hard drive wiped clean (and thus wait months for someone with admin rights to eventually put my things back on there for me) or just live with the virus. And so, I have an annoying browser virus as a permanent resident on my teacher workstation.
Go to any good-teaching seminar/workshop and we are told that, ideally, we should be classroom facilitators. That when you turn over ownership of lessons and projects to the students, it actually makes your job as teacher an easier one. And I believe in most ways that is true. Why can't tech departments be taught a similar philosophy? Teachers should be given ownership of the technology tools they use (and want to us.) As schools evolve deeper in this new technology age, tech leaders in school systems must change the current "Our tech, our way" attitude that has been common in the less tech centered past.
It is not the job of the technology department to herd us and keep us in single file line, but rather it should be to empower us in our use of technology. Instead, too many school systems operate under a mentality where people at the top hand down technology to teachers who have to play by the rules someone lays forth. Rarely are teachers asked for input regarding tech hardware or software purchases, rarely are teachers asked what their tech needs/goals are, and rarely are teachers treated as professional equals when it comes to technology. We're seen as simple sheep in a field who need a tech shepherd to keep us under watch.