Monday, August 25, 2008

Attention Students (and Parents)!

Back to school time. One of the many documents you are likely to sign, if not read, is some sort of contract or code-of-conduct related to your use of the school's computers, network, software, data, email, Internet, etc.

Schools are afraid that a student will do something with his/her computer to create a liability for the student's school. To a lesser degree, schools are also concerned that one or more students will "overuse" resources and undermine service quality and reliability. So, schools have lots of policies to protect themselves, they reserve the right to monitor students' activities and they reserve the right to enforce such policies and punish people who violate them. That's what the document you signed allows the school to do.

Big brother is watching you. But, as one student has told me, "They never enforce those rules." At that school, at least, it would seem that the rules don't matter?! Not likely. At that school and many others, almost any student's good standing can be snuffed out at the whim of the IT people.

Selective enforcement of the rules to set an example and send a message to students is a cost-effective way for IT to protect the school and its information systems. Having the power to choose which student to go after and when is almost a perk of the job of the IT director. Woe to the student that ends up on the school's shIT list!

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