Ideal Support Structure for VC

This morning, Jerry made some great comments/reflections on the support of VC related to mentoring. I’ve been thinking about this support structure issue for quite a while, and pretty soon I’ll be able to share some research that backs this up too!

So here’s my dream scenario for supporting VC in schools. There are ways to adapt this structure if your scenario is missing a piece or two. See if this matches what you find as successful in your area.

Jazz Workshop: Teachers and Coordinators Learn to Use VC
Jazz Workshop: Teachers and Coordinators Learn to Use VC

Educational Service Agency Level

  • A curriculum integration person, who helps teachers integrate VC in the curriculum, trains the school VC coordinators, creates resources to support VC in the curriculum, and facilitates original programs for the schools.
  • A technical support person, who runs the MCU (if applicable) and assists the districts in getting VC to work through their firewalls, explains how VC works to the district techs, troubleshoots videoconferences, finds alternative ways to connect a VC if the school can’t do it on their own, upgrades software on the endpoints, provides just-in-time training to the district technical personnel, etc.


School District Level

  • Technology Coordinator. At the very least, the technology coordinator needs to be aware of videoconferencing, the benefits to student learning, it’s impact on the network,  how to make VC work through the firewall, how the cables are hooked up to the projector/monitor etc to assist when problems arise, how to dial, and basic videoconference troubleshooting.
  • This person needs support from the ESA level tech person as they often are so swamped with every day technical support that they don’t have time to learn the intricacies of making VC work on their network.

Ashton Graham Mentors During the Jazz Workshop
Ashton Graham Mentors During the Jazz Workshop

School Level

  • VC Coordinator who is supported by the people listed above.
  • The VC Coordinator has many names: site facilitator, cart manager, etc. and could be the librarian, media specialist, a couple of lead teachers, the school technology facilitator, a media paraprofessional, or even a secretary. I have two coordinators who are secretaries – they are in small schools with limited staff.
  • The VC coordinator supports the teachers as I described yesterday.


  • I don’t think any of these positions need to be full time for videoconferencing, except if possible at least one person at the educational service agency level or district level if the district is large.
  • In very large districts, the educational service agency level support is provided at the district level.
  • In some cases, schools receive some of the educational service agency support from organizations such as CILC and TWICE.

Your Turn:
What do you think? Do you agree? How does this match up to your area? Are you missing any of the pieces? How could you work to fill the gap?

Or another question might be: Is this support structure unique to VC? or is it helpful in all educational technology implementations?

Or another question: What other great examples do you know of where these structures are in place?

Please comment and share!

0 replies on “Ideal Support Structure for VC”

  1. Janine,

    Thanks for the follow-up on my comments from yesterday. I’d like to give you some feedback on today’s post “Ideal Support Structure for VC”. Speaking from an ESC perspective again I think you nailed it right on the head with the importance of the roles played by a curriculum integration specialist and technical support person.

    Because of the complexity and differences in those two roles its very rare to find someone who can play in both camps. Here in Southeastern Indiana I handle the Curriculum Integration role and though we have a Technical Support person for our region he isn’t stepping up and providing that type of support. I try and compensate for that by working with the Indiana video network engineer and my equipment product representatives to help our clients IT departments work through any technical details.

    My struggle is that sometimes I must convince or persuade the school’s IT Dept. to work with either the state network engineer or equipment rep and since I work at a regional level and have no direct authority over what individual school personnel do other than as a consultant or vendor it can be difficult and time-consuming for me to work through the school’s bureaucracy to get the vital technical/network support work accomplished. For example, I have one school district that held its first video conference this past Spring eight years after they recieved their first piece of VC equipment. A member of their staff actually told me that for a time the technology coordinator had the unit (a working unit mine you) locked up in a closet and refused to have anyone bring it out and attempt to use it.

    I don’t wish to air my dirty laundry here I just wanted to offer my experience in support of your “Ideal Support Structure for VC”. Like you I believe that the structure you described is ultimately what is needed to support technology in the classroom. If people can in their organizations make that happen great please do, if you don’t have the power to influence within your organization you’ll need to look for ways that you can somehow provide that level of support from multiple sources. Again Janine thanks for the follow-up I love the work you do it helps me provide a level of customer service that I couldn’t provide working in isolation.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.