In my past roles as ICT Co-ordinator or e-learning co-ordinator, I have formed and chaired an ICT or e-learning committee. What are the pros and cons of having such a body?
The terms used differ from country to country and even from school to school. Just so we’re all on the same page here, by "e-learning co-ordinator” I mean someone in the school who has the responsibility for encouraging other teachers to use technology in their subjects. I think the “co-ordinator” part of the title is an expression of hope, except perhaps in the sense that the e-learning co-ordinator will try to ensure that all the facilities are not in demand all at once. In my experience, though things are changing slowly I think, that is a problem it would be wonderful to have. The co-ordinator is likely to spend a great deal of time encouraging, cajoling or bribing teachers to try it out rather than juggling excessive demand!
One of the things that can assist the co-ordinator is an e-learning committee. Here are 6 good reasons to have one:
Find out what subjects’ needs are
Rather than undertaking surveys, seeing teachers individually or just plain guessing, by having a committee you can find out very quickly what the technology needs are in each area. You can also discover what the frustrations are, such as the laptop trolleys always being booked out.
This follows on from the first point. To follow through with the example given there, it may become obvious that money needs to be spent on a new set of laptops or tablets.
Avoid double buying
In one school I worked in, I discovered soon after arriving that the heads of both the science and the languages departments had bought the same software. Worse than that, they had both had it installed on the (same) school network. Had someone co-ordinated such purchases, they could each have contributed half the cost instead of all of it.
One of the problems with making decisions on behalf of the whole school is that there is bound to be at least one person who complains that they were not consulted. Having a committee, on which every subject area is represented, means that the onus is on the representatives on the committee to sound out their colleagues rather than on you. It is much easier to talk to one or two colleagues than everyone on the staff.
Find out common technical problems
If your school is too small to have its own technical support team on site (a lot of primary (elementary) schools are in this position, the e-learning co-ordinator can keep track of the techie problems that arise so that they can all be dealt with when a technician is called in. Also, the co-ordinator will be in a position to spot any patterns, and deal with them, or have them dealt with, accordingly.
Keep up with developments
I asked members of my committees to report back on areas in which they had a particular interest. Thus in every meeting we would have a few minutes in which someone would tell us about some interesting developments, whether in hardware, software or educational initiatives. It meant that we were all a lot more informed than we otherwise would have been.
With all these great reasons to have a committee, what could possibly be wrong with having one?
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