in Education

Help me write my job spec. for next year!


(The response I hope not to get come September…)

I’ve mentioned this in passing in a couple of blog posts previous to this one: from next academic year I shall be E-Learning Tutor at my school. This new post (solicited by me, it has to be said) involves me spending 50% of my time (15 periods of 50 mins) per week teaching History and a bit of ICT. The other 50% will count towards the E-Learning Tutor role.

I’ve a meeting next week with my Head to flesh out my actual role. He mentioned today that I’ll have to do some “mundane” stuff, but that I will be free to push a few aspects of my choosing and accelerate perhaps one thing I’m really interested in. As you can imagine, with my Ed.D. thesis exploring the ‘Digital Literacy’, that’s the latter taken care of. :-)

I’m expecting the mudane activities I shall have to undertake to be things like:

  • Interactive Whiteboard training (the really basic aspects)
  • How to use the new VLE (Virtual Learning Environment)
  • Using the internal Microsoft Outlook web-based email system
  • Ways to use Powerpoint and other presentation tools in the classroom
  • How to transfer digital video from digital cameras/camcorders to staff laptops

Whereas what I really want to be pushing are things such as:

  • Creating a blog to make resources available outside the classroom (I’ve already run a couple of staff workshops on this, with some success)
  • Basic podcasting and digital storytelling for non-written assessment, leading to e-portfolios for students.
  • Communicating with other educators worldwide (i.e. getting staff initiated in the edublogosphere – perhaps through the K12 Online Conference?)
  • Giving staff the confidence to take students into the ICT suites more often to use the Internet as a publishing tool.
  • Transferring schemes of work and programmes of study into an electronic format (perhaps in a wiki-like format using Google Sites within Google Apps Team Edition or the new VLE?)

Some context to help you understand where we’re at: my school has a plethora of RM One machines, Interactive Whiteboards in almost every classroom, and relatively unrestricted access (we can access Twitter, del.icio.us, Google Video, etc. but not YouTube, Facebook or games websites, for example). There’s a real mix of what I would call ‘digital literacy’ amongst staff. We range from those, like me, who use educational technology in some way in every lesson, to those who only use their laptop to help them write reports, and who certainly haven’t turned on their Interactive Whiteboard yet… :-o

What else should I be looking to include in my responsibilities? How should my success and impact be measured, given that it’s a 1-year trial role? Suggestions in the comments section please! :-p

Image credits: Hugh McLeod @ gapingvoid.com (top one censored by me…)

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  • http://www.nstoneit.com nstoneit

    I think you should measure the number of smiles from staff and students! Maybe if you want to be more virtual the number of smilies ;-)

  • http://www.nickafrancis.co.uk Nick Francis

    Sounds to me like you're facing the same battle as we are at our school….A vast chasm between staff who embrace the technology and those who are timid/reluctant about using it. We've run workshops/training days which have been successful to a degree….however, I always feel that this is a short-lived success, with staff having a million and one other things on their plate, they tend to move on and forget some of the key ideas learnt.

    I would really stress from the outset that this 'New Role' will grow and grow. You also need to ensure that your Head is willing to back you financially with any crucial decisions. One of the biggest repercussions recently, for us was the initiation of the 'ICT mark'(You've probably started this)…we now have 'an ICT strategy group', who meet regularly and our School Management team are taking it VERY seriously….at last!

    With these things in mind – to measure your impact over a year is probably going to be very difficult. A two year plan would probably be more appropriate and I would recommend identifying a key person within each Department/Faculty who is 'ICT friendly'.

    Good Luck!

  • http://www.soulycatholichs.blogspot.com Charlie A. Roy

    We are creating a similar position at our school next year. We are calling our position director of instructional technology. Should be fun. Our gal's name is Jen Perino if you are interested in emailing her to help brainstorm and provide us with some ideas her email is perinoj@peorianotredame.com

    all the best!

  • http://www.dougbelshaw.com Doug Belshaw

    @Daniel: Ah… if only it were that simple!

    @Nick: We've had so many problems with our school network and changeover with ICT personnel that the ICT Mark has been furthest from our minds. You're absolutely right in it being something to get staff behind, however. Perhaps I should draw up a 3-year plan? Another thing I was thinking about introducing is a voluntary ECDL course (our lower-ability Year 10/11 do it instead of OCR Nationals)

    @Charlie: Thanks for the connection! I shall email Jen – would be great if you could mention it to her first. :-)

  • http://www.digitalparents.co.uk Toby Treacher

    Doug,

    I would love to see something about including parents in the conversation. I appreciate that the same technology literacy issues exist with parents – but for those that are interested, they need to know/understand what the school is doing, and what they can do to support their child’s digital life.

    Cheers.

  • http://karynromeis.blogspot.com Karyn Romeis

    I support Toby’s comment.

    I would also like to see you reach a point where teachers don’t have “to take students into the ICT suites more often”. It is the very existence of an ICT suite that makes ICT so ‘other’ – the fact that you have to break out of your normal pattern to use ICT. This is a distinct barrier, and provides the reluctant teacher with another excuse.

    When ICT is available everywhere, so that it can be used spontaneously as well as in a planned fashion, then it ceases to be a schlepp.

    Maybe exploring ways of using ubiquitous IT (such as the kids’ phones) for learning will go some way towards addressing this. I’m not sure whether you have interactive whiteboards in every classroom (putting them in the ubiquitous range), but I’m sure a lot more can be done with them than is currently the case – particularly in creative writing group exercises.

    It looks like an exciting opportunity to take the ‘otherness’ out of technology and turn it into the means to an end that it should be.

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  • http://www.prettejohn.net Chris PJ

    Hi Doug

    This is very strange. At about the same time I’ve just been offered a very similar looking post at our school except with the term ICT strategy Leader! I’m HOD in Geography but have a uber Geek hat too.. The Head teacher and SLT seems to know that this VLE thing and ePortfolio stuff is something he needs to deal with but doesn’t actually understand what it actually all means. Hence the new post

    Part of my problem will be wrestling stuff/working with other people. There seems to be a scatter gun approach at our school with IT. Someone is responsible for ELC, another for the school Plasma screens, another for the School radio, there’s the Head of ICT, the school Intranet, the website etc…! Trying to come up with a coherent

    I’ve made it one of my initial goals to identify ICT Champions at the school. After this we’re hoping to roll out Moodle from September and it will be the delivery of loads of CPD… interested in sharing resources?

    I’m trying to convince the Head to look at the EEEpc’s for Sixth Form which are issued like school planners…dream..dream..

    Would love to look at some form of second life application within a gated school community for the future..how fun would taht be for students and staff alike??

    Chris

  • http://www.dougbelshaw.com Doug Belshaw

    @Toby & Karyn: You’re absolutely right about the parent aspect. One step at a time, though – I need to get teachers actually getting the students using stuff first! :-o

    @Karyn: The concept of ‘taking students to the ICT room’ has always been an issue. I’ve just put 3 PCs in my classroom which were due to be recycled and put Edubuntu on them. I’ve no room for more than that due to the size of my classroom, so I’m now looking at the possibility of using the laptops handed in by staff when they get an upgrade. Maximizing existing capacity before pushing for more, you see… :-p

    @Chris: Interested in sharing resources? Absolutely! I’ve been in contact with Jennifer Perino that Charlie mentioned above. She’s also very up for sharing stuff. Perhaps we should set up an area for conversation? Forum? Wiki? :-D

  • Pete Lee

    Hi Doug

    It may be an interesting one for you to consider in light of the above post re IT suites, but one of the first things I did in my role as ICTAC was to restrict access by staff to the IT suites. And before I get struck down by a bolt of lightening posting something like that on a site as digitially rich as this…….

    We work in 4 x 9 week assessment cycles, so staff could (on the face of it) only book 10% of their teaching time in the IT suites.
    This was a direct attempt to stop the outrageous lack of planning by certain staff – and their brazen approach to using IT suites. “Go in there and search on google” or “do a powerpoint!”. Or “it’s a Friday…period 4 I’ll go in there as it’s free…”

    Of course with this, we brought in a whole load of training via our CPD programme. And brought in a type of basic qualification that staff had to be able to complete before they were allowed to use the rooms – hence upskilling people as we went. This was actioned by the IT managing and involved using our pupil monitoring software SANAKO for example…

    If staff wanted to go over their alloted time they had to go via me and explain what IT objectives they were using it for / what applications etc. Several staff did….although we didn’t publicise this too much….

    This also freed up the suites to be used by the more creative staff…..it also has helped [somewhat] to change pupil perception of IT suites. I’ve tried to champion the fact you may have to book it for an hour – but you don’t need to use it for that hour…..why not start the lesson in your classroom – go to the IT suite for 30-35 mins – then back to your room for the review etc….

    It was a bit controversial to start with, but has is now accepted…..(I hope!)

  • http://www.dougbelshaw.com Doug Belshaw

    Wow! That is fairly controversial, Pete… :-o

    You’re absolutely right, though – staff do sometimes abuse these resources. Our ICT rooms, due to the number of ICT-related courses we run are actually quite hard to book time in anyway! I like the way that training and/or a qualification is linked to access to ICT.

    It’s just engendering the enthusiasm to get those who have never used these resources to start using them! :-p

  • Pete Lee

    Yeah I agree with that last point you made – but to get them to use the resources you need to put in place support. If schools were serious about IT they’d employ a full time person/people to aid those teachers who aren’t as digitally literate. That also links into one of the other comments above by Chris PJ. There needs to be a joined up structure….with someone responsible for all of these things / or at least populating…

    As for controversial – maybe :-) – but we did a trawl through who was using the IT suites and had certain staff who [on average] were using it 2.5 periods (out of 5) per day…..and they tended to be those who were experts in ‘google searching’! :-)

  • http://www.dougbelshaw.com Doug Belshaw

    There's absolutely no excuse for what you describe, Pete. I don't see that at my current (high-achieving) school, but we used to get it a lot at my previous (very low-achieving) school. It's unprofessional, undermining of other staff, and very frustrating. :-(

    If I was a Head, I'd be asking for proof of digital literacy at interview. Fair enough things need to be done about existing staff, but there's no reason to be hiring more digital illiterates! :-p

  • Arvid Brurok

    Doug
    This is exactly what we are trying to do up up here in Bergen, Norway (we call the position "epedagog"), and I am looking forward to learn about your experiencesachievementsdisappointments in your new job.
    However, have your school ever considered buying an LMS (learning management system)? Even though blogs, and even better wikis, have many advantages, an LMS is superior when it comes to managing the communication between the school's administration, teachers,pupils and parents.
    Anyway, every pupil should have their own laptop. ICT rooms are not satisfactory in the long run. Teacher-pupil communication should not be barred by ICT-rooms and parents' economy. Therefore, every pupil should be provided with a laptop by the school, funded by the government!

  • http://www.succeedtolearn.blogspot.com Miss H

    For a great description of a ’21st Century Literacy Specialist’, see Kim Cofino’s post on her blog. You might find it interesting, I just stumbled across it the other day.
    http://tinyurl.com/yokrpu

    As for every student having a laptop (comment above) I don’t know… first of all, the teachers need to be trained and savvy as to how to engage those kids with their laptops. All students & staff should have access to the appropriate equipment in a timely fashion? Sure, that I could agree to. That’s why I like the thought of mobile labs. Use a space in the school (if you need to get out of the classroom), and go to it! Not every student needs to be working independently all the time… and, I think starting off with a smaller number of accessible (albeit likely in-demand) computers is more realistic than every child getting a machine. Just my thoughts. :)

  • http://www.dougbelshaw.com Doug Belshaw

    Therefore, every pupil should be provided with a laptop by the school, funded by the government!

    Schools should certainly be able to provide students with some type of device, although I'm not entirely sure which. I suppose it depends on the needs of the students and the school. I'd go for Asus Eee-like devices in my particular school. :-D

    I also beleive there should be government funding to help those on the wrong side of the 'digital divide' to get online. Without this, students from less well-off backgrounds may not develop adequate 'digital literacy' skills to compete fairly with their more affluent contemporaries.

    @Miss H: Kim was the first person I went to when I learned of my meeting this Tuesday with the Head! We've worked together with NextGenTeachers in the past and she's doing a great job. Kim kindly pointed me to exactly the same post you did! Thanks. :-)

    As regards "students & staff should have access to the appropriate equipment in a timely fashion", you're spot on. There's no point in ploughing huge amounts of money for ICT equipment into a school that's not ready for it. You have to prepare the way by changing the infrastructure and skillset of the staff first of all. Hence my role next year!

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  • http://edtech-insights.blogspot.com/ George

    We are also having a person do a similar role to yours next year – but we have taken a different approach.
    Since we needed a new library, we designed it to be a large space with flexible use seminar rooms and meeting rooms, with the access to both computers and wireless access points. The person “in charge” is not a librarian but the Learning Resources Coordinator – an ICT champion and savvy person.
    Here is how we hope the LRC will function:
    http://docs.google.com/Doc?id=dcsh9nv9_55hnk89jfv

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