Innovation Prevention Departments

OK before I start this is a bit of a rant but what I am saying here is being thought by a lot of people who are trying to be innovative in their research and teaching methods.

The subject is “Innovation Prevention Departments” (aka IPDs) In education especially we all seem to have one. They often work under assumed names that imply they provide a service, eg Information Services, Computing Services, Human Resources, Purchasing Dept etc. But the perception we, the end users have is that “they are run by ignorant and blinkered people”.

So what do IPDs do? Lets take some recent examples. A college that teaches photography and also bans access to flickr,� others who decide that second life access should be blocked. In short they decide without any consultation to block access to network based resources that they deem to be “bad”. We all know people who have had lectures, demonstrations or labs hampered or cancelled by an IPD dept.

No doubt you have your own examples and maybe its time we started to expose their stupidity and find ways of fighting back.

Remember the department that provides the Innovation Prevention function in your organisation is probably supposed to provide a SERVICE to their end users not make their end users work in a way that is convenient to the IPD.

Their arbitrary blocking of access to sites and resources is effectively censorship. When google did this for China there was widespread condemnation. You are being prevented from doing your research or utilising innovative tools for teaching progress by <insert your own description here :-)>.

Not very far into the future it probably wont matter, many� students will have their own links to the internet via mobile broadband etc others may not so your IPD will be setting up a further digital divide.

Sadly this blinkered ignorance is not just within IT departments but also governments.The decision to block access to sites seems to be taken by people whose knowledge or imagination about the use of computers stopped at least 10 years ago.

Sadly many IPDs have staff that _can_ see the point, purpose and usefulness of the sites that their managers block access to.

Another insidious effect of the IPD is their insistence that everyone should use a standard setup or platform because that will be better..Errrr better WHY? and WHO FOR!!!!. On the one hand the world is talking about individual learning solutions and choice and on the other we have these <insert suitable word> insisting we should all use Windows/Exchange/Standard Desktops/Office/Have no rights to change, add, configure, install things.


As network infrastructure technology improves it becomes easier to restrict how the network is used so things are going to get worse. I suspect however students will vote with their feet. If your institution has an IT dept run by management� determined to ban access to innovative services that the students want to use, then the students will go to an alternative institution.

rant over, I’ll get me coat……

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