Just a few days after patting itself on the back for enlisting a
R&B singer with a MySpace page and lots of Twitter followers, CPS’s new email policy (PDF) requiring teachers to use official email for all communications with students has come to light.
Blog readers brought this issue to light in reader commentsover the weekend. No communiating with students or their families via
personal email. No cell phones. No Twitter. No Facebook.
Read below for one teacher’s dismayed reaction, and weigh in with your thoughts. Does this seem like a legitimate restriction for safety or other reasons, or an over-reaction that will hinder teacher-student communications?
One teacher comments:
The biggest frustration is that on the technology front the CPS Network
is totally inadequate. The message to me is strong and clear – innovative, tech savvy teachers should look elsewhere for employment.
Also irritating is the proprietary nature of it all. With so many tools
out there to introduce technology into the curriculum, the CPS system
either can’t or won’t allow it. Even if the CPS system supported it, to
my knowledge there has been literally zero training available – for
students or staff – for any of these Collaboration Systems they
Also, I give my cell phone number out to
all of my students so they can call or text if the need me. This AUP bars contact with students via cell phones. Obviously,
cell phones are not on the CPS Network systems.
I had also intended to
use Twitter for a significant portion of my class lessons since it is
an easy and free way for me to send bulk text messages. Needless to say
that won’t be happening.
A few highlights:
Duties. All Users have a duty to protect the security, integrity and
confidentiality of the CPS Network and Computer Resources including the
obligation to protect and report any unauthorized access or use, abuse,
misuse, injury, degradation, theft or destruction. Users shall comply
with all ITS Guidelines when using the CPS Network or Computer
Resources. All employees communicating with students via electronic
means must do so using CPS Network systems.
I guess this
means that the interactive website I’ve spent this summer designing for
my students with open-source WordPress is off limits. I can’t share
video we create on our own. I can’t ask them to compare and contrast
two of our own videos, or one of our videos with someone else’s, or two
videos from elsewhere. I can’t solicit student responses on core
content. I can’t post accessible calendar information. I can’t post a
contact form for students who forget or lose my e-mail address but know
the website we’ll use on a weekly basis. I can’t host interactive Flash
tools that my students use on a regular basis.
CPS network is simply incapable of handling my digital needs or the
needs of my students. I get 100MB of storage on the CPS network.
Seriously. 100MB. In this digital age. 500MB on the FirstClass e-mail
system. That’s eaten up in no time with digital media, especially if
I’m encouraging students to use digital media as part of their
learning. Not to mention the fact it takes a month to delete old files.
(There is no way to empty the trash can on FirstClass. You have to put
the file in the trash and then wait. 4 weeks. And I can’t store my data
on FirstClass for longer than 12 months. So I’m required to backup to
my own hard drive. But apparently, CPS owns everything on my drive, too.
Property. All documents, data and information stored, transmitted and
processed on CPS Network or Computer Resources are the property of, and
subject to, the Board’s policies, rules, standards and guidelines on
usage. Users shall ensure that all access and use of such documents,
data and information complies with applicable laws and Board rules and
policies including those related to the Confidentiality of Student
Records and E-mail Retention. When a User is no longer employed or
under contract with the Board, all information stored by that User on
CPS Network and Computer Resources remains the property of the Board.
authored an interactive Flash tool that I’d like to use for my
students. It requires communication between me and them. If I am forced
to host it on the CPS Network in order to use it I simply will not use
it. I have no interest in giving CPS ownership of a product of hundreds
of hours of my own computer work. Also, when CPS lays off an employee,
that employee immediately loses access to e-mail and the CPS Network.
Why exactly would any CPS employee store ANYTHING on the CPS Network
knowing it is no longer their own property and they may lose access to
it at any moment? How might an employee actually exercise any ownership
of proprietary information whatsoever?
Unacceptable use # 11 is use that “degrades the performance of the CPS Network or Computer Resources or causes a security risk.”
violate this one every day. I download or upload large files. That
degrades the performance of the Network. I stream audio or video. That
degrades the performance of the Network. I access Impact and/or
GradeBook at the same time as thousands of other employees. That
degrades the performance of the Network.
Usage. Users are not allowed to use third party e-mail systems (such as
Yahoo or AOL) in their capacity as representatives of Chicago Public
Schools. All e-mail sent by Users in their capacity as representatives
of the Chicago Public Schools must be sent from Board authorized e-mail
systems, with Board authorized return addresses. User e-mails are
subject to retention by ITS in accordance with the Board’s E-mail