The demands and responsibilities of information technology
Assistant Secretary/Treasurer Paul Giles reflects on the growing role and importance of information technology in non-government schools in Queensland and the Northern Territory.
Consideration is given to what we as a union need to do and what we require of employers so that information technology in educational sites is an integrated and effective element of a whole educational experience for students as well as an accessible and vital tool for educators.
It is important for Information Technology (IT) to be resourced in a way that would assist employees and not become another employer enforced burden.
Over the past two or three decades, IT has changed the face and nature of schooling and continues to be an exponential force of, and for, change. Historically, its use in Australian non-government schools has been for administration (timetables, mark books, resource centre management, reporting, budgets, class lists etc) and distinct information technology studies.
Such baseline application and introduction has, however, given way to the use of technology, to varying degrees as an integrated, widely applied learning tool in the day-to-day teaching and day-to-day learning program of educators and students. This needs to be resourced with the provision of time for employees to effectively use the IT available.
Research indicates significant success and improvement in student learning when IT is effectively combined with appropriate learning and teaching methods in curriculum areas. Other stakeholders in education including parents/carers also encourage and in some situations directly pressure educational sites to incorporate ever new and contemporary technologies into their educational programs. Extra demands are being placed upon educators.
Such demands require adequate resourcing by employers especially in regard to the provision of time so that employees can meet the demands of IT as well as use it productively.
Guidelines for effective IT use within normal hours of duty and use of IT for professional development online and outside of normal hours of duty are also industrial issues that need to be addressed.
Members have identified the following key issues:
- Professional Issues including the provision of appropriate and timely training for all staff including pre-service staff and the need for fully resourced professional development for all staff within the normal hours of duty.
- Industrial issues including, amongst others, acceptable use policies and protocols, equity in relationships to access for students and staff and occupational health and safety issues. Time resources to effectively use IT for planning and reporting. Guidelines for effective IT use within normal hours of duty and use of IT for professional development online and outside of normal hours of duty are also industrial issues that need to be addressed.
- Curriculum issues including the development of Australian and Australia-relevant software and the integration (rather than accommodation) of IT into contemporary teaching and learning programs.
Our members believe that to ensure such information technology is used to effectively enhance teaching and learning, employers need to develop policy and procedures which provide for a full system level infrastructure for IT implementation and guidelines for planned site level IT management. System level policy and procedures should include, amongst other things, provision for ongoing enhancement and resourcing, provision of and plans for technical support and ongoing staff professional development, and a balanced view of IT integration into the whole school curriculum.
At a site level, such policy and procedures should provide for professional development of all affected staff, involve the staff in critical decisions in regard to that IT, and provide protection for staff and students where such IT is inappropriately used.
Expectations around the use of IT by and for staff need to be appropriately time resourced so that IT associated tasks do not become outside normal hours of duty demands.
This article was extracted from the September edition of Independent Voice. Click here to read the full edition.