This morning I read Andrea Israeli’s blog entry, Hit the Ground Running, with interest. She says,
This year our schools are videoconferencing in September. I think this is a first. It used to be don’t even mention the “V” word until October and even then it wasn’t until late October that things got going. Now I find schools have dusted off the monitors, hooked up the Polycoms and started making test calls and school just started on Tuesday! What’s going on?
I agree! Something is happening! Last year at this time I had 25 requests for VCs for the year; this year I have 91 already and they are pouring in! I talked to another colleague in Texas who is also having increased demand. Gone are the days of a quiet September prepping for VCs for the rest of the year.
It’s a great problem to have, really! Training and advertising has paid off. Increasing access to the equipment clearly has made a difference already. Now the new problem is how to manage the increase and begin transferring more responsibilities to media specialists and building level coordinators. Already I’ve sent some media specialists off to do everything for some upcoming programs. So here we go for another exciting school year with wonderful learning opportunities brought to our kids via videoconferencing!
A really insightful observation, both on Janine’s part and on Andrea’s. The de facto DL guy in my independent K12 school, I’m working on a proposal for a half-time position for Distance Learning. I’ve had to create a new collaborative calendar to manage the already scheduled interactions and to prepare for others I know are coming. Smaller scale than ya’ll deal with but the increase seems proportionately exponential.
My reasons for this request are twofold: 1), I’m afraid that if I get run down by a truck next week all the progress we’ve made at my school will be lost and 2) we’re always talking about how we could share our Best Practices and excellent teaching staff with more children/learners than the ~1000 students our building and programs will accomodate. Well, how about some IVC outreach to less privileged/fortunate schools and school systems? There’s a grant proposal there somewhere–now if I just had the time to pursue it!!!
The fact of the matter is, you can’t do this without support!! And having a position – some way to coordinate it – is crucial! But you also don’t want all the knowledge in one head just for the reason you gave. So I’m encouraging my buildings with new equipment to have two people as the contact/coordinator. It’s coming down to how to manage the growth in appropriate sustainable ways, right?
You’re absolutely right, my fave mave. I wish I’d set that up at the beginning. I wonder how many schools actually have DL specialists or the equivalent and how many are limping along with an ex-officio facilitator like we are. There’s another thesis or publication opp,ya’ll: We’re just crankin’ ’em out here.
Seriously, it might be the SIGIVC of ISTE could well spend some time researching the topic and perhaps proactively running some job position standards up the proverbial flagpole to see who salutes…
I’m really interested to see how the person’s position and release time (or lack of it) affects the usage in the building. Some of my buildings have two teachers (with no release time), some have a media specialist, some have a library aide, and some a computer teacher and an aide. It’s all over the board. Another great research topic! We should start a VC research questions wiki or something to collect these ideas for potential dissertations!! :>
I was happy to find your ongoing commentary on this topic. We’re seeing the same situation with our schools here and a high priority is going to be managing the manpower needed for both curriculum coaching and tech support.
When you talk about a specific DL position or similar, we’re not there yet either – currently the tasks are passed on to building curriculum-tech partners but we know their plates are full already. Our structure across the state provides us with videoconsortium director-type staff, but I know they as well never assumed these tasks would be part of their job description!
The pd we’re currently offering includes both the building admin and tech as well as the teacher focus – all for the purpose of strengthening the capacity of teachers to develop and take these projects straight through the implementation process. The trends in access to video units is transitioning from only being available at the high schools to now being in the elementaries in the form of both classroom and desktop units.
Right now we’re in the thick of planning for the year’s scheduled events – as you know, Janine, we took the RAA model and adapted it to a couple of state events. They’re both getting great attention from our schools – be careful of what we ask for, right? 🙂
Thanks for adding to the conversation Kim! It’s good to hear how this is working in North Dakota too! I wonder if we are where we were 10-15 years ago with educational technology – having a position just for that – and those positions seem to have been cut in many places…. now we have a new technology that takes extra support & are again having to squeeze support out of busy schedules… It’s an interesting conundrum that certainly could use more study!