[IAEP] School Surveillance and acknowledging market forces

Dennis Daniels dennisgdaniels at gmail.com
Fri Sep 4 21:12:10 EDT 2009

The arguments for and against giving teachers monitoring capabilities
across the entire classroom of computers is deep and wide. The ongoing
battle of philosophy and application. I'm going to try and break it
down a little from the perspective of someone who knows full well the
hurdles I'll face if/when I introduce a Sugar Lab into a
public/private school. I'm going to talk about the market here and the
decision makers and the decision makers are the adults.

Make it easy for teachers:
If you want teachers to get on board with Sugar you have to give them
a reason to want to get involved, namely making their lives easier,
Moodle et.al.,  and one of them is some assurance that they can see
what is going on in the classroom on machines that most teachers have
little experience with! I built my lab because I got fed up pushing
paper like a secretary. I'm a manager of education, computers make
that possible.

Get the parents support for the technology:
In Dubai, I had students taken out of my computer class because the
computer is the "tool of the devil"... but I got the students back
after I showed the concerned parents that Moussa and Amin and * were
not doing the devil's work, they were programming. "See my screen? I
can monitor your little angels all the time... they may grow up to
engineers or doctors one day..."

Acknowledge the market, teachers don't know much:
Please, if a teacher knows anything about computers, they don't stay
teachers very long... the demand for computer skills outstrips the pay
for teachers. Make it as EASY as possible for teachers to get Sugar

Curriculum is controlled by people who generally don't know much about
To reach adults who control the curriculum and machine access, make it
easier for ADULTS to feel comfortable with letting eight years olds
know more about computers than the adults. I may sound convoluted but
there is a reason why computers have still not made it into schools in
any meaningful way, and it's not the cost of the machines. It's the
fear and ignorance of the adults. Throw the adults a bone, give them
'security' in knowing what little Johnny and Jeannie and * are doing
on the computer in real time i.e. monitoring.

Go try and convince a school to build a new 'cheap' computer lab:
Please, people, go work in a school as a volunteer in a school with
computers and one without, offer to build an LTSP lab in the
classrooms and watch the responses... then come back and make the
changes needed to Sugar to get everyone on board. OLPC may be a
giveaway program  sponsored by governments but Sugar is going to be a
HARD sell if it doesn't make adults'/teachers' lives easier.

I hope I'm not whistling in the wind here. Philosophy and
application... may the twain ever meet? Unlikely, not in the maelstrom
of school politics and forces. We can however make it easier to help a
lot of people if we keep in mind that this discussion has mainly
involved developers (philosophers) of education and very few people on
this list are actually teachers (application).  The answer to why this
continues to be true on IAEP is one that the Sugar project needs to


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