I’d laugh if it weren’t so frustrating.
I’d cry if I thought it would do any good.
I spent today like I’ve spent every day this week, at school on my own time setting up my classroom.
I’m setting the network of five laptops and three desktop computers that will be available in my classroom and I test them to make sure they can access the internet. It was a good thing because several were having connectivity issues.
The homepage for NYC Department of Education computers is the NYCDOE homepage.
As I launch each computer’s browser that is where I am taken and each time there is an item on the homepage about helping two NYC schools try to win $500,000 through the Kohl’s Cares program.
The item tells me that the voting deadline was today, Friday, September 3, 2010, and a link to the contest is provided.
Being the caring guy that I am, I click the link to do my part to help these two NYC high schools win the prize.
Here I am all ready to vote and…
The site is blocked.
Yes, the NYCDOE Web Sense filter blocks access to the contest promoted on the NYCDOE’s homepage.
It is insulting that the NYCDOE doesn’t trust teachers and administrators enough to allow them unfettered access to the internet, that they don’t trust me to keep my password secret to only I can use the administrator account visit websites verboten for students.
I’m not talking porn here. Not even soft porn.
Here’s where it gets really ridiculous.
The category “games” is blocked, keeping my students away from hundreds of sites with really good games with high education value, but I have no problem entering contests like the ones at MyRecipes.com or HGTV even when using a student account.
So I can’t help two schools win $500,000 but I can try to win myself $5,000 or some tools.
The NYCDOE runs a really good help desk for employees having computer hardware or software issues. The folks there are efficient and know what they’re doing, which immediately distinguishes them from many divisions of the NYCDOE.
I wasn’t sure this was under their domain but I called the help desk to point out the silliness of promoting something on the homepage and then blocking it on the network.
The fellow on the other end of the line listened and asked me to hold on while he checked it for himself. When the same thing happened to him he gave me a web address on which I could fill out a form asking that the site be unblocked.
Despite having plenty more to do to set up my classroom for the first day of school next week I tried to go to that website. A couple of minutes filling out a form would not set me back much.
I tried again, this time with a slight change.
I gave up.
I tried to help but found myself bucking the inconsistency, inanity and inefficiency that is the NYCDOE.
But boy am I excited about the new school year!