Help prevent users from stealing mouse balls and keyboard keys

How can tech support prevent students from stealing mouse balls and keyboard keys

I recently wrote a blog on the subject of Desktop Support issues, and one TechRepublic member, Jessie, left a reply that I wasn’t quite expecting. She provides support for an urban school district, and some of the students apparently haven’t been taught that stealing and destroying things isn’t appropriate behavior. (Yes, I know, I’m being kind.)

I’d love to have a discussion pointing fingers at whoever’s (or whatever’s) at fault for such behavior, but that would be a departure from the question at hand. I’d also love to have a discussion about the state of public schools in our major cities, but that would undoubtedly become a political debate more appropriate for the off-topic water cooler discussions. And it would be equally interesting to discuss the limits placed on teachers and school administrators when it comes to disciplining those students, but I’ll resist the temptation.

Nonetheless, I’m guessing that there’s an ingenious idea out there somewhere that could help Jessie deal with the problem of students stealing mouse balls and keyboard keys; when she tries to circumvent such things, they’ve actually cut the mouse cord itself.

On one hand, this might not seem like a real desktop support issue, but rather a matter for school security. On the other hand, however, it’s a very unique desktop support issue since tech support has to deal with it. In another one of my earlier blogs, I think we learned (at least I did) that providing computer support to schools and school districts is among the most difficult and challenging of all environments. This particular issue certainly lends credence to that conclusion.

Even though I'm at a loss for a good solution, I’ll throw an initial idea out for discussion. Install a wireless keyboard and optical mouse on each computer, and have the students literally check them out before each use. But I can see the problems with that solution before I even finish writing it out. They could cut the wireless receiver cord instead of the mouse or keyboard cord; they could steal the batteries; they could still steal the keyboard keys; and any attempt to verify the condition of outgoing and incoming equipment would be an administrative nightmare, not to mention the additional cost of the wireless equipment and the impossibility of enforcing any kind of attempt at holding them responsible. (Okay, that was a bad idea.)

So there you have it. Regardless of your idea, even if it seems like a bad one (like mine), please post it. After all, one idea might lead to another, which might lead to a good one when examined by others.

P.S. Please take a look at Jessie’s profile, and consider making a small (or large) donation to her fundraiser effort for childhood cancer research. And if you can’t make one individually, ask your boss to make a corporate donation – preferably in a meeting with a lot of other people present. Many thanks.