Saturday, December 13, 2008

From a Private E-mail: Admin Priviledges and Boardmaker Frusterations

This is from a private e-mail conversation I have been having with online, it references the frustrations of not having admin privileges on school computers and some special education software companies refusal to take these issues into account.

Isn't it crazy that schools don't install sped software because of "security issues"? Like Boardmaker and Intellitools are going to be problems! I haven't been using Boardmaker very much because I cannot nstall it on the school computer attached to the "big screen" (due to admin privilege issues) and I cannot run Boardmaker Player from a flash drive. Switch It Maker Player, Choose It Maker Player and Classroom Suite Player can all be run from a flash drive, but not Boardmaker Player. I know my school is technically the problem, but why is it Intellitools and Inclusive are responsive to this pervasive issues and Mayer-Johnson isn't?

Would it kill them to design their software in a way that it doesn't need to install files to the registry and therefore is not a problem in all the schools with this issue. I am one of MJ's biggest advocates and they are slowly losing my loyalty.... (with every day that passes that I cannot use activities that my students would find meaningful on the computer of my choice).

It really is amazingly frusterating that just when all these fantastic interactive boards are going up on Adapted Learning so many teachers and speech therapists cannot use them at school because of lack of admin priviledges to either install the Boardmaker series of software or to download and unzip files on school computers. When I mentioned the issues with downloading in schools a Boardmaker rep told me he hopes schools can work out those issues. Well I hope they can too, otherwise people will only use Boardmaker for print activities and use other, easier to share, easier to install softwares for interactive activties. (That's what I do, Boardmaker for printing Classroom Suite or Choose It Maker for interaction.)

PLEASE, PLEASE comment if your school (or your child's school) has these issues. The more people that say something the more likely Mayer-Johnson knows this is a pervasive issues across the US and the the more likely they are to address it!


  1. YES-YES-YES! I downloaded what I hoped would be a fantastic "color" activity and then tried to open it. It said, I needed to upgrade to V6.1.3 or some craziness like that. Okay- so I go to get the upgrade and after waiting for the update to load (at least 15 mins), I can't install it because of admin priviledge issues. Now I need to wait for my district to get around to installing this update on my computer... completely frustrating!

  2. I completely agree with this post. It is frustrating to know that software exists but then you can't get the approval to have it installed.

    I ended up buying Boardmaker Plus on my own. Then I bring my laptop to school to connect to the SMARTBoard. I know that is not an option for everyone and I am lucky as my principal turns a blind eye to using personal computers in the school.

  3. I completely agree that it is frustrating, but from a software side there is no way to get around it at this time. Software in becoming increasingly more complex and that goes double for Operating Systems like OSX and Windows. I don't think that at this time Mayer-Johnson would be able to put out a quality product if they didn't have to put it in the registry for example on Windows.

    What really needs to happen is that IT Departments need to be educated about SPED software, their importance, and find a way to work around these issues. This is obviously a problem all over the country (I've just had some of my own recently). This is a systemic, school problem, not a problem caused by software developers.

  4. I support AT in multiple school districts and it has taken a long time to begin to resolve these issues. Two solutions that have worked are for the IT person to give write access to certain folders For example

    Boards: C:\Documents and Settings\*User*\My Documents\My Boards

    Symbols:C:\Program Files\Boardmaker with SD Pro\Symbol Folder\My Symbols

    A second solution has been to partion the hard drive and have a section of it 'thawed'. The folders that then need updating are re-routed to the thawed space.

    We have been lucky enough to offer a workshop for district IT staff: Its produced by Bridges Canada and is called AT for IT. The workshop discusses file pathways, patches, updates etc. It has been instrumental in creating a dialogue between Special Ed an IT staff. What has also helped is Special Ed have representation on a school district's technology committee/being included in meetings for the district technology plan.

  5. First off, on a personal level, I work for a program that rents space in public schools. My concerns and need for admin privileges mean nothing to the school we rent space from. They consider us lucky to be online at all - and would prefer if we only went online of webmail access. In fact it took them many months to let us online. They do not give us any access to any internet technology.

    The point of my post is not, "how do I get admin privileges?" or, "how can any individual teacher get admin privileges?", but "how can we eliminate the issue of admin privileges for all those who use Boardmaker?"

    Sure thousands of sped teachers (and others) could rally parents and others to work from the top down for admin privileges in one school after another, but it would be to everyone's advantage is the need to do so was eliminated by particular software companies.

    I once again pose the question, "Why can I run every other "player" software without privileges EXCEPT Boardmaker Player?


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