My Thoughts About The Need For ICT Coordinators

Earlier this month, Terry Freedman stirred up a little stuff with a blog post entitled “Do We Really Need ICT Co-ordinators?” The posting generated some interesting replies and made me start thinking about the concept.  My original thought was that I could come down firmly on both sides of the answer.  It was only until I started to think deeply about it that I changed my thoughts to a resounding “YES” – provided you have the right person in the job OR you have a good person in the job who wants to become the right person.

The term ICT Coordinator is used in so many contexts depending upon the district or school.  In some cases, it might be the academic lead within a district or it might be the person who manages the equipment within a district or it might be a person within a school who does her best to make sure that activities strongly enhance curriculum opportunities or it might be a person who books the lab and cleans the keyboards.

As we’re within a week to the ISTE Conference, I thought that I’d better put my thoughts down so that I have a basis for discussions with some of the folks that I’ll meet there.  There’s a whole group that I get a chance to meet face to face annually and I relish the deep discussions that I have with them.

In summary, I can understand the logic in not having an ICT Co-ordinator if this is your reality.

  • the person is a one trick pony and the answer to every question is … <insert your favourite technology here>;
  • the person is simply a follower repeating the thoughts of others, including copying and pasting other content and really not showing the way;
  • the person takes time to go to professional development events but doesn’t share any new learning with others;
  • the person doesn’t take the time to visit a Grade 1 class or a Computer Science class or a Technological Education studies class to see who the true clients in education are;
  • the leadership in the district or school believes that teachers have the time and ability to fall into worthwhile activities without assistance.  After all, there are Academies on the Internet that will teach you everything.

I really enjoy this blog entry “Your Technology Coordinator works for you, not the other way around“.  It’s an interesting conversation.  Equally as interesting, as always, are the comments to the post.

On the other hand, I’ve seen some outstanding ICT Coordinators.  Unfortunately, some of them are in a position where their district is eliminating their position.  In these cases, they

  • do a great deal of thinking and share their thoughts (good and bad) with their colleagues;
  • recognize that these colleagues are not just those within the district or school;
  • inculcate incredible online resources sharing via their personal wiki or blog;
  • understand how and why technology, used properly, can engage students and inspire teachers like nothing else;
  • absolutely model new technologies or techniques and inspire others to try them as well;
  • realize that most of their entire job involves professional learning – the other tasks like meetings are just filler;
  • research and jump into discussions about what’s possible.

I know that the term is used so frequently but I’m going to use it again.  The difference between the two scenarios is passion.  I’m not talking about the one-day passion that you work up for an interview.  It’s the passion that knows that new and innovative things are just around the bend and they arrive daily.  It’s a matter of identifying them and immediately making the connection to great opportunities for students.  It’s the absolute thrill that one gets when you see a student excels because technology has helped her do something that she couldn’t have done any other way.  It’s the passion that comes through professional learning opportunities that pay off for educators.

Mary Beth Hertz recently summarized her thoughts in a table in a post called “The Dos and Don’ts of Tech Integration PD”  Anyone who is or aspires to be an ICT Coordinator needs to take a look and heed her advice.  While I don’t agree with her use of the term “trainer”, the advice that she offers hits the target.  She leads off recognizing that the differentiation that we expect in the classroom also has a place in professional learning.

Going back to Terry’s original post, he makes the statement “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. ”  Unfortunately, he doesn’t expound on that statement.  Is the “ICT” worthwhile?  Does it make a difference?  Is it engaging and inspiring students?  Is it truly transformative or is it a parallel activity that was formerly done with pencil and paper?  I would suggest that a good ICT Coordinator would set the table so that the teachers and the schools ask and answer those questions.

Perhaps it’s the term ICT Coordinator that needs to be eliminated.  What we need are ICT Leaders, Champions, Models, Cheerleaders, Researchers, Writers, and Futurists.  Wrap all that up into a person and you’ve got your ICT Coordinator!

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One thought on “My Thoughts About The Need For ICT Coordinators

  1. I actually see my job as an “ICT Coordinator” (not technically my title – but it fits) to teach myself out of a job. My goal is for my faculty to be self-sufficient and not need me. In a perfect world I don’t think we would need ICT coordinators, just like we wouldn’t need Curriculum Specialists, but I don’t think we are there yet. The question is how do we get to that point?

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