About software and branding

Please stick with me. I’m having another Tim King moment.  This time in response to his post “ECOO 2017: building your Edtech house on shifting ground“.

There are two issues here that got me thinking (and blogging).

He shares a thought from a panel discussion featuring a number of people.  It sounds like the discussion dropped into one of us versus them.  At least from Tim’s perspective.

For my first issue, I’m pulling out this paragraph from his post…

In the course of this discussion it was suggested by curriculum support people and board IT professionals that teachers should be spending an inordinate amount of their time closely reviewing the legal documentation around software applications and vetting software.  I thought we had people for that.  Having a teacher do that is akin to pulling all your commandos off the front line in a war and having them do paperwork.

For context, even though I managed an IT Department for seven months, I consider that I have both feet planted on the curriculum side of the house.  As part of my job, it was important that I reviewed documentation on resources that we made available for the classroom.  At our monthly Computers in Education School Contact meetings, we would explore the latest and greatest of the “new”.  I did feel that it was my responsibility to look through these things that I was trying to get people to use.  The limitation, of course, is that I’m not a lawyer and working through the legal end was certainly not a science.  Fortunately, when we licensed things through OSAPAC, the Ministry of Education had their lawyers on hand.

But that’s only one set of the things that ended up in classrooms.  It gets worse today.  There are so many good options available on the web or downloadable as an “app” with its smorgasbord of applications.  Whose responsibility is it to study the terms and conditions of that?  Do we care that “free” comes with a barrage of internal advertising?

Should the perspective be that you only use officially board-vetted resources?  To use others, you’re on your own?  Should there be a process where a classroom teacher who attends a session and gets excited about a product submit it to someone for review?

Then, there’s the real kicker.  Suppose an application is approved and found to be good and somewhere along the line, the developer changes those terms or sells their product to someone else.  By that time, any content already created is subject to conditions that you haven’t necessarily agreed on.

And then, there’s the issue about just where the data is actually stored.  Have we become so in love with the cloud that we overlook this?

Times are considerably different.  Teachers, and the uses of technology in the classroom, are far more sophisticated than ever before.  The issues and dangers of technology use have become more sophisticated are well.  We need to move to a world beyond slapping a standard image of software on a computer and saying “we’re done”.

Second issue …  and this is a biggie that Tim has addressed on numerous occasions and yet nobody really answers it well.

When describing themselves and their school boards, the IT people in the room said, “we’re a Google board” and “we’re a Microsoft board” as a means of stating their, what, affiliation?

You can’t avoid this.  As I look around my work area, I see brand names everywhere.

Look around where you’re working right now.  How many different items with brand names do you see?

Branding is a way of life for all of us.  Technology branding is insidious… Next time you go to a computer conference or even walk into a technology rich area in your school, look at the back of the computers, on the front of any device, or on the screen of any student or teacher in the room.  You’re going to see a brand.

What does it mean when an IT person or teacher or student for that matter says “we’re a Google board” or “we’re a Microsoft board”.

What is it about technology that leads one to want to identify a product that you’re using?  When was the last time you heard someone say “we’re a ###### math textbook using board”?

Can we just step back from the brand names and just say “we teach the following skills”?  Leave the response to the listener.  Chances are they don’t even care about the brand.

Your thoughts?  Do you care that I’m writing this post on WordPress with the Opera browser on my MacBook Pro with external Logitech keyboard and Microsoft mouse and I’m connected to the internet via my Xplornet data connection?

Author: dougpete

The content of this blog is generated by whatever strikes my fancy at any given point. It might be computers, weather, political, or something else in nature. I experiment and comment a lot on things so don't take anything here too seriously; I might change my mind a day later but what you read is my thought and opinion at the time I wrote it! My personal website is at: http://www.dougpeterson.ca Follow me on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/dougpete I'm bookmarking things at: http://www.diigo.com/user/dougpete

One thought on “About software and branding”

  1. Thanks, Doug, and I’ll send one to Tim as well. This is uncomfortable stuff, and sadly, I know many educators who would much, much rather avoid the uncomfortable and just use the tool their IT department tells them is okay. It’s that sheeple thing that is sometimes easier. I personally love the fact that my board can’t say which giant it supports, because we use both (IT pushed O365, teachers using tech went Google, now we can use both or neither). I also need to say that I’m lucky enough to have friends on my board’s IT team, and to have built some relationships that allow for deeper questions.

    So much to think about, always. I really wish I’d been there when Michelle made her comment though. Honesty would have made a big difference in an answer.


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