You know how everyone says that technology is marvellous, “…. Tsk! When it works!” (exaggerated eye rolling). And that’s true. I’m not here to dispute that. You also know how IT professionals – those, shall we say, “Keepers of The Knowledge Of All Things Technological”- who sit somewhere behind a door that has some seriously annoying sign on it like “Come in if you speak C#” say, in that smarmy self-satisfied, self important, “asking-for-a-slapping” kind of way, “The problem is usually between the screen and the chair, <snort, guffaw, hee-haw>” ? Well let me tell you, it is because of them that I am beginning to lose my cool with technology: not technology per se, but the fact that it has become so intricate and involved that we actually NEED these so-called Keepers of The Knowledge of All Things Technological to run it for us.
Take today (please – I’ve done what I can with it and it is still unliveable). New week, new students, new projects prepared and ready to run. Lesson starts, group decision for week’s project is to open a new business in local area, selling gym equipment. First order of business: find out about the history and demographic of local area and present in class tomorrow. Off the students go in their groups to the media centre. No Internet in Media Centre. (Um, why is it called a media centre in that case? thinks teacher, feeling a bit stupid) “No problem”, says enterprising Italian, “I use my lap -uh – top – uh.” Hooray, laptop connects and Internet springs into life. “Here is a little video about the history of the area. Let’s watch it. Andrey, you take notes.” Click! Up comes this by now all-too-familiar message that makes my boil bleed. Site blocked by Administrator. Now getting fairly hot under collar I suddenly remember “The Keeper of The Knowledge of All Things Technological” has gone home, probably to sort through all those Very Useful Boxes full of cables and lumps of hardware (to cannibalise later) and the disks for the last four versions of every kind of software, a million dorky games and drivers and manuals and copies of PC Today and Linux for Experts and Stuff (just to appear cool).
There’s nothing I can do – unwritten “procedure” (read “past experience”) tells me that all avenues – wicked techno wizardry notwithstanding – to the IT department are closed and the K of TK of ATT will be “incommunicado” (another snort and guffaw at clever use of “foreign” language). What is it with these people? Power? I am probably the most tech savvy person, besides The K of TK of ATT, on the premises, but I have NO access to ANYTHING; I have no clue how to check the connectivity; I have no adminstrator rights and I have never been privy to any of the stuff that goes on behind the C# door. So when IT is “incommunicado”, we all just have to muddle along if there are any IT problems, which we all know happen often and lots and leave us looking inept and twittish, in front of clients who have paid not a small amount of money to be able to have access to the same stuff they have access to anywhere else in the known universe.
Well I’ve about had enough. I’m sick and tired of having the Internet go down – it happens for too regularly to be acceptable; I’m sick of having to reorganise lessons because there’s some ridiculous update that hasn’t been done because some box hasn’t been ticked; I’m sick of being told to “meet me halfway here” when there’s some setting that has been overlooked and wrongly blamed on me ,and I’m sick to the point of tears of explaining that we have some arbitrary, ludicrously paranoid block on our system that means most stuff is either absolutely unavailable or is only available during certain hours, which happen to be after class. All web-based mail, all social networking sites, all sites that may be construed as “sports oriented”, “entertainment” or “shopping”, all sites that – I believe – have a certain percentage of “skin tones” are blocked by our system and – although I do understand this one- I couldn’t get on to a Cockney Rhyming Slang website because of a certain collection of letters. I need to point out at this stage that we run an adult centre for business people. I fully appreciate the need for some blocks on the Internet; for a very efficient anti-virus programme; for the school to be protected should we be entertaining a pervert or worse. But for the love of all I hold sacred, can someone PLEASE give me the authority to override the nonsensical blocks, to have some administrator rights and to be trained in how to troubleshoot when TK of TK of ATT behind the C# door is otherwise engaged?
Thank you and I’m going home now.