Information Hippie

OK….I admit it. I am an information hippie. I believe that information should be free and accessible to all. I believe that filters are over rated, do not protect our kids, and that education is the only way to teach responsible use of this amazing machine we call the World Wide Web.

Man….do I feel better!

As schools continue to roll out 1:1 laptop programs the same conversations keep coming up.

How much control does a school put on student and teacher computers?

Now….I’ve been in education long enough to know that there are all sorts of things people are scared of…most of all….we’re scared of the kids.

We’re scared they know more.

We’re scared they don’t know enough.

We’re scared they’ll do things we don’t want them to.

We’re scared they’ll hurt themselves.

We’re scared they will fail.

We’re scared they will succeed.

I do wish students were mature enough that we could just hand them computers and let them go at it…in fact, I do believe that…and that is exactly what I would do!

Rules:

1. If you break it, you buy it.

2. If you lose it, you buy it.

3. If you crash it, I’ll try 10 minutes to fix it then it gets re-imaged.

4. The only way anyone ever learns to back-up is to lose everything, so back-up!

5. Don’t steal.

If I had a laptop school those would be my rules. No, students would not have access to school servers, everything would be done via the web. Therefore, you do not need to worry about viruses infecting the school’s system….from their computers anyway.

Every student and teacher would have admin rights! Why not? The only way you can really learn and experiment with a computer is when you have them…and trust me if you try to block them…they’ll find away around it anyway.

“I don’t want to play policeman!”

And the students honestly don’t want to have to hack their machines to put their stuff on them.

“But all the illegal software”

I think this is more of an issue here in Asia than anywhere else in the world…but really…you can tell them they can’t put illegal software on (see Rule #5) and they will. If it crashes their machine…see rule #3. But conversations….conversations about copyright and learning right from wrong is the only way to stop it.

The only true 1:1 program includes student ownership

They need to feel the machine is theirs, why not try to find a way for students to own the machines? Heck, after 4 years you’re not going to want them back anyway. Or find some way to sell them to kids after 4 years at a really cheap price. What you really need is students to feel as though they own the machines. I’ve seen 1:1 programs where the schools have locked down the machines so tight that students go and buy their own machine to bring to school. Ownership means something!

A 1:1 program where the computers stay at school will not work.

A 1:1 program where teachers are not allowed to download and learn will be frustrating.

A 1:1 program where all stakeholders feel locked down will become negative.

A 1:1 program will fail if freedom is not allowed.

I’m an Information Hippie! (my mom would be so proud!)

It’s my job you see. My job is to fight for access, I do it every day. The IT Manager…his job is to make sure that things are secure and running, and my job is to make sure education of students is not being disrupted due to the IT Managers job. Yes…it’s a love, hate, give and take relationship. One that is crucial to every school. I make my case, he makes his…and at the end we come to an agreement based on data and common sense.

We talk about information flattening our world.

We talk about a changing landscape in which knowledge is created at hyperspeeds.

We talk about information and creativity being everywhere and accessible to anyone.

Our schools need to be that….and the only way they can is if users have access to that super highway.

Is my plan fool proof? Nope!

Will people crash their machines? Yep!

Does it allow students and educators to be creative? Yes!

Does it allow teachers and students to experiment? Yes!

Does it foster a learning atmosphere of excitement and possibility? Absolutely!

Then let go….let go of the reigns of control and just see what happens.

I always hated the teacher saying: “Start off hard on them, you can always loosen up.”

Why not “Start off soft on them, you can always harden up”

Will they complain? Yep…but they do anyway.

On the Web we’re all just nodes….let us go, let us explore, don’t hold us back, let us learn the only way in which true learning happens…by making mistakes.

Ah yes….the Information Hippie syndrome….I like it in my perfect world!