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Student Teachers: No Access = No Learning

Student Teachers: No Access = No Learning

The edtech community speaks and writes daily about convincing and teaching teachers to use technology in their classrooms. In a survey I did last week, the results showed just a tiny number of all of the sites and applications that are blocked for students, teachers, and administrators in various locations. As some people have mentioned to me, things vary widely by district and even by schools within a district. Some have said that things vary day to day! This issue is being discussed widely, so I would like to bring attention to another, less-discussed topic.

As you read this, please note that I’m referring to a few specific districts (unnamed) that I’m personally familiar with, not making a blanket statement about all schools in the US or even Wisconsin.

Read the results of the Survey: Education Blocked Web Application

In several districts that I have experience with, there is such extreme “security” that no one except employees and registered students have access to the networks. This may seem logical, but let’s think about who that excludes: Student teachers, substitute teachers, parents, visiting speakers, community members can not log on to a computer to use desktop applications or access the internet at ALL.

While there are many reasons to open up our school networks, right now I’d like to focus on the issue of not allowing student teachers full access to computers during a student teaching assignment – I have talked to many student teachers without computer access during the school day, and the overall feeling is extreme frustration with a system that mandates innovative teaching and use of technology, but doesn’t allow access to a district’s network. In other situations, the student teachers have access to the network, but not to a computer in the building (because the “teacher” computer is being used by the cooperating teacher and the labs are being used by students). In this situation, it would be wonderful if student teachers were able to bring a personal laptop and just connect to the school’s network, but I don’t know of anywhere where this is allowed, again because of “security” issues. Employees and students aren’t allowed to do this either.

Some cooperating teachers have gotten around this issue by allowing student teachers to login with their usernames/passwords, but unless the cooperating teachers have multiple login capabilities, this doesn’t truly solve the problem. Some student teachers are told to just use a student login, which isn’t necessarily a good solution either. In a perfect world, every student teacher would have network access and a computer, or at least the ability to connect to the network with a personal laptop.

I can’t even imagine starting a student teaching assignment without FULL computer access at this point and I’m seriously wondering right now how I can work effectively in a blocked and restricted environment. Right now it’s only 1/2 days and when I get home to work in the afternoons, it’s like entering a different world – one in which I am allowed to make decisions and use technology to its fullest capabilities to enrich my work and learning.

As people are asking how students feel about having to “unplug” as they walk into school everyday, why not ask how the teachers feel? If you’re a 21-year-old college student who was required to buy a laptop for college coursework, had wireless internet access in every place you’ve lived, and are carrying out much of your social and professional interactions online (and no, I’m not talking about the dirty DN phrase, I’m talking about reality on many of our college campuses where we’re supposedly training new teachers), would you choose teaching as a career if the situation I described above is the required working environment? Think of the students we’re teaching right now – as we share the power of technology with them and get them excited about the empowerment it can bring, would you recommend teaching as a career if the situation I described above is the required working environment?

If this situation is not the case where you live and/or work, how do they address this issue? "*Discuss now.* ":

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