Sunday, June 8, 2008

Technology/Security in Education

I have always had a beef with (most) teachers in the Technology fields of public schools. I got my A+ certification my senior year (I was actually taking A+ and Net+, but the school district screwed up my test waivers), the guy who taught the class should _not_ have been teaching it. He had supposedly gotten his A+ cert ~10 years before, but his knowledge of computers didn't go very far past that initial certification. This wouldn't have gotten to me, but he would walk around as if he knew it all, talk down to the other kids in the class (he wouldn't do it to me, I made it quite clear in the first couple weeks that he shouldn't try to get technical with me), and other small things.

I had brought an Knoppix disc to class one day and booted up to it, just to show the other kids in the class how you can go about removing a password off of a Windows box. When my teacher saw this, he became furious, but he not because of what I was doing per se. He had no idea what Knoppix was (he kept referring to it as Windows 95) and he wasn't happy that I was teaching the other kids something that wasn't on the curriculum. This was before class started, it wasn't on his time, but for some reason, it really pissed him off. At the time I didn't know what to make of it.

The previous year, I was doing some research in the library at school for a paper I was supposed to be writing. I had brought a flash drive with some documents on it to save stuff to. When I had plugged it in and gone to My Computer, I noticed that _tons_ of teachers had shared drives publicly available with a lot of sensitive stuff (IE gradebooks) on them. Now, most students wouldn't know how to get to some of the stuff, but I didn't think that mattered. After I finished doing my research, I went to the IT lady at school, told her what I had found and showed her exactly how to get to the stuff. She got on to me for "hacking into the school system" and told me to go back to class because they had it covered.

The point I am trying to make is that the school districts really need to get a handle on technology, the people maintaining it, and the teachers teaching it. There are too many educators/sysadmins just barely getting by with things that they learned 5, 10, or even 20 years ago, and it is affecting the entire system, whether they realise it or not.

I do understand that schools have a limited supply of educators. I guess it just goes back to the whole "Those who can, do. Those who can't, teach.".

END rant


  1. Part of the problem is that there are restrictions on who can do what security wise or even maintenance wise on computers in school. Not because they don't want students to find out how to do these things, but simply because the system for doing such work in many school districts requires that the school district hire union workers to do the job. This is not to say that union people are not up to the task, or couldn't do the work at all. I'm reasonably certain that most of the simple security solutions that would provide a reasonable solution are well within the knowledge of those workers.

    The big problem is that this is well within the realm of things that volunteers in the community could help out with and fix. However the various union have dictated that this is one of the things that people can not touch as part of volunteer activities.

    You may want to look at the Cisco CCSP certification path in addition to going beyond the A+ certifications. Though LPI is likely to be a useful cert for some time to come as well. And go read Bruce Schneier's columns and blog. Though I suspect you have been doing so already.

  2. I am not looking to get any other certs anytime soon. If I do though, CCSP is definitely up there.

  3. One of my friends was banned from his school's (university's) library for using the terminal to clear his Firefox cache...AKA hacking (apparently). Another has been told off in the library for hacking when he used the terminal. Really, are hackers the only people that know how to use the terminal? And for that matter, the word to use if they think you're doing something wrong is "cracker"!