Did anyone outside of New York City happen to catch this story about Baruch College? In the scope of international Internet policy it is a proverbial drop in the bucket. But for higher education information technology policy it is an important story. And a good step that administrators there made in how they handled a challenge that in the past has stymied administrators and angered students.
Here is the story in a nutshell. Some students come up with software program for course registration. They do not run it by anyone in IT or Student Services, but they also do not intend for it to be destruction or shy away from identification with it. Some of student founders authenticated openly to it. Nonetheless, the program places a considerable load burden on servers, and possibly on bandwidth, as it pings over a million times to maintain current status of courses and selections.
T professionals register the spike, investigate and administrators contact the students. But instead of reading them the riot act (in the form of Responsible Use Policy), it would appear as if they educate … each other! The students to whom we will give the benefit of the doubt may not have appreciated the adverse impact that the program would have on the servers and network. The administrators to whom we will give credit did not throw the book at them. Together they learned more about students' needs, the complexity of technological operation of a network and IT policy.
Students should be encouraged to innovate and know that when they come up with something to meet needs of the community there is an office or somewhere on campus to go to discuss it operationally first before deployment. Intention matters. Nefarious disruption of the network should be the cause for discipline, but innovation is of a different ilk. Providing students with an appropriate outlet results in a win-win innovative and educational environment, which, is, of course, what higher education should be all about!
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