Friday, October 26, 2012

eLearning v ICT

In recent years we have made massive efforts to evolve from an 'ICT' mindset to an 'eLearning' mindset in schools. Some may say this is semantics. However, by definition, ICT refers to technology (stuff - cables, equipment) whereas eLearning refers to learning. Take the classic example of the incumbent ICT Coordinators in schools a few years ago. Usually these were men, often in jeans, who fixed the printers, ran the networks (with DIY fixes) and taught the occasional computing class. Five years on, after a focus on eLearning, we now have 50/50 male/female eLearning Coordinators, who are teachers first and foremost (from all disciplines). We employ technicians to do the technical work.

It is a personal bugbear when, because I work with technology (in teaching and learning), I am often referred to as the IT guy. I do not have those skills, I cannot fix your printer or write code for your website. However, if you want support with teaching, particularly in capitalising on the opportunities technology provides in (and beyond) the classroom, then I'm your man! 

Don't get me wrong, I have the utmost respect and need for people with technical skills. Unfortunately, I feel both technicians and teachers who work with technology are often treated in a patronising fashion as lackies to fix other people's problems. Surely it is the responsibility of all teachers to capitalise on the use of technology where appropriate (and a part of one's professionalism to develop problem-solving skills rather than default to your nearest lackey).

I expressed this frustration in a tweet with elicited some great responses from Judy O'Connell and Andrew Churches:

 eLearning is simply 'learning' in this day and age, enhanced and augmented by technology.


  1. Im with you on this but it seems as though there is a demand for an "all in one" Someone who is also the bridge between technicians and teaching staff. Someone who has a general understanding of whats going on technically, who is abe to translate to the technicians and staff. A mediator.
    High schools also need a leader of ePedagogy as you describe Simon.
    Someone who able to move teachers from duplicating with technology to a real transformation in the learner be it teacher or student. Transformation includes a redefinition of learning, where the technology allows the learner to reach places otherwise previously inconceivable.

    I guess at the end of the day other roles suffer the same problem
    The Pastoral Care Coordinator. Is the Pastoral care Coordinator doing what ideally they have been commissioned to do. Most of the time no
    The Curriculum Coordinator. The Curriculum coordinator should be leading Curriculum and this what they end up doing mostly. No

    1. Thanks John, appreciate the reply. All things considered the reality is what I described is still a hypothetical in some schools. Ultimately the role is what the Principals demand. We have moved a long way though some Principals want/need what you describe. (There are also large schools that can fund both eLearning and ICT Coordinators).

      As you point out, eLearning straddles both ICT and Curriculum, sometimes falling between the stools. It will be interesting how roles evolve when we now have Teaching & Learning Coords and Leaders of Pedagogy.