Friday, 19 March 2010

Things to look for in a middle manager with whole school responsibility for e-learning

At a medium/ large secondary school I would expect these posts to be two separate posts. Appointing someone to be Head of the ICT taught courses department is relatively straight forward; an excellent ICT class teacher who is ready for middle leadership.

The leadership of ICT across the school is somewhat a different ball game, it's a whole school role, it's strategic and they have to influence all sorts of different people- most without an ICT background without directly line managing them, which is a challenge.

In smaller secondary schools the two posts are often rolled together and if they are going to be successful in their whole school role there are additional things to look for in candidates. Teachers in other subjects can be hard to influence from the position of Head of ICT as they will often say 'its just not like that in History...English etc' which is why I prefer the model to be a Head of the ICT department and a whole school ICT leader who probably comes from a background of making great use of ICT in a non-ICT subject.

So to get that whole school perspective that creates confidence and ambitious in the whole workforce and fosters trust in ICT look for:

•Enthusiasm about the massive potential ICT has to revolutionise learning
•Has a good understanding of the massive role ICT plays in daily lives of students, parents and teachers outside of schools and the issue that schools struggle to keep up with this and exploit the potential to catch up with the norm outside of school and move ahead to innovate
•‘Gets’ the importance of VLEs- experience of using them, perhaps understand the post VLE landscpae- PLEs and PLNs. (personal learning environments/ networks)
•Understands the importance of quality content on VLEs- both homemade and bought in
•Understand the important of staff development around encouraging, training and handholding a shift towards new pedagogy, such a training on e-learning content creation and the skills of teaching with ICT
•Can see how ICT can improve outcomes for children by freeing teachers for time consuming tasks- allowing sharing of resources, faster admin, reducing marking, reducing work load with things like reports and improved pedagogy; engaging activities, differentiation and AfL built in, make great use of communication tools to access teacher support out of lessons
•Has a good grasp of the reticence many non-ICT teachers feel towards new technology and has ideas of techniques to get ‘buy in’ gain trust and incentivise innovation and peer to peer sharing. Has to present a bold vision and have ambition but balance with sensitive support for those who don’t pick up new technology quickly.
•Understands how ICT and web tools can enhance teacher CPD and peer2peer support and school2school support, also the importance of training staff in e-CPD
• Strong on E-safety and ICT Polcies but takes a realistic and pragmatic approach to the risks.
•An expert ICT practioner in professional life and personal life- 'walks the walk' not just 'talks the talks'
•They don't need to be a techy; that's the network manager's job, but they need to be able to hold conversations with the techies and know the difference between upload/download and wifi/hard wired and be technically aware from a user's point of view

When looking for a Network Manager I would say go beyond the technical ability, elevate the post to a similar level of this one and expect significant cross over in the roles so these people can work together. In other words look to appoint a Technical Manager who doesn't just maintain systems but drives curriculum and school development forward as part of the whole school development plan- the Headteacher's key technical advisor.