Do we really need ICT Co-ordinators?

The role of ICT Co-ordinator has been around for decades – ever since, in fact, someone decided that ICT activities ought to be co-ordinated across the curriculum. But why should it be, and what does it even mean to co-ordinate it anyway?

The rationale of co-ordinating ICT across the curriculum is possibly laudable. If the purpose is to ensure that a student is not placed at a disadvantage in terms of learning about and with technology by choosing a particular set of subject options, then I suppose that’s fine. It’s then a matter of digital and, more important, educational equity, and that fits in well with my own values system. But I fear that too often it’s seen as a defensive measure, to prevent the school's being “caught out” whilst being inspected or otherwise evaluated.

The thing is, though, I have been into several schools where there is ICT going on all over the place without its being “co-ordinated” at all. Faced with the dilemma of whether or not to castigate the school for its lack of attentiveness to such matters, or take a more pragmatic approach, I decided on the latter. After all, ICT was happening. The fact that nobody was overseeing it seemed an irrelevance. As Darrell Huff said in his brilliant book How to Lie With Statistics, a difference is only a difference if it makes a difference.

What does “co-ordinating ICT” even mean? Is it to ensure that the same practice happens across the board, which sounds pretty boring to me? Or is it to ensure that the computer labs are not over- or under-booked in any one week? If the latter, then surely all someone needs to do is make sure that everyone has access to a room-booking timetable? Ideally, that should be on the school’s VLE or Learning Platform, so that nobody even has to get up from their chair when they want to book a room (or any other technology come to that), but even a paper copy on the staffroom noticeboard would be OK as long as the school wasn’t on a split site with the computer rooms on one site only. Incidentally, everything I’ve said here about booking computer rooms applies to booking laptops or anything else.

An important issue surfaced several times at the EduSummIT conference I recently attended. If you’d like to extend the use of technology across a school, say – ie to scale up what has been found to work – what you do not want or need is replication, but variations on a theme. Subject leaders should be encouraged to adopt the use of technology as and when it is appropriate. Would it not be fair to assume that, being the experts in their field, they are fully aware of when that might be?

If you’re interesting in discussing these issues, why not do one or more of the following:

Enhanced by Zemanta