4 reasons not to have an e-learning committee in a school

In my last post I suggested 6 reasons to have an e-learning committee in a school. But not everything in the garden is rosy. Based on my experience as ICT co-ordinator in several secondary (high) schools, here are what I see as the downsides.

This committee is a bit too big for a school! Photo by Matthias Ripp https://www.flickr.com/photos/56218409@N03/

Feeding frenzy

Maybe I have been rather unlucky, but I have found that some subjects want to be represented on the e-learning committee purely in the hope of getting extra money to spend. I even experienced one meeting in which one of the teachers said that if I wasn’t earning such a high salary there would be more money to spend on technology. I have no idea how he knew, or thought he knew, what I was earning, but I told him that as I hadn’t determined my own salary level he should take his complaint to the headteacher. I can deal with such crass statements, but spending an hour a week (or whatever) in the company of such people is not exactly pleasant. Fortunately, not everyone on the committee was so bold in stating what they were really there for; if they had been, I’d have probably disbanded the committee on the grounds that its members had lost the plot, as we say in England. The purpose of the committee was to discuss whole school issues, not to try and grab resources or take pot shots at the Chair!

It may not be prioritised

I found in one school (the same school I cited above, in fact) that heads of subjects appointed their most junior member of staff to sit on the committee. These people were often new teachers as well, so they had very little influence with their immediate colleagues, and didn’t necessarily know the priorities of their own subject area let alone those of the school. It would be much better to have subject leaders on the committee.

Lack of time

That last wish, of having subject leaders on the committee, is more of a dream than a real possibility. Subject leaders tend to be extremely busy, and none more so than in primary schools, where the subject leader for e-learning is also likely to be the special educational needs co-ordinator. And probably the literacy co-ordinator, just for good measure! Indeed, in a primary school, it may simply not be feasible to have a committee at all because of the unlikelihood of people having the time to attend meetings.

Horses and camels

Finally, the old saying, that a camel is a horse designed by a committee, is very apposite. I would very much suggest making the committee an advisory body rather than a decision-making one. An advisory body advises, and you can either act on its suggestions or decide that it is wrong, and be prepared to argue your case. But if the committee is a decision-making one, you are very likely to end up with outcomes that satisfy nobody.

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