This post is my seasonal card to the people I work closely with….
Many of these people beaver away in the background supporting project teams throughout the UK. They may occasionally get acknowledged in a final report… They may sometimes receive thanks from individuals…Sometimes they just get a barrage of complaints, grumbles and even rudeness.
There are hundreds of people supporting the innovators, movers and shakers who are trying to transform the learning experience through technology. Not all projects are at the cutting edge of innovative practice… Some are trying to drag people kicking and screaming from their comfort zones of traditional practice and institutional torper. For some institutions what seems like old hat to others is like a step too far into the unknown. Most projects are somewhat unwilling to pay attention to the work of others and carry forward previously funded work – so wheel reinvention is common – ‘but my wheel is different’. Some projects exhibit a naivety of understanding of what institutional transformation really requires in terms of effort.
Behind these projects is not only funding (in fact this may be the least important part of the package that projects have) – there are teams of people – some specialising in particular areas – such as standards, accessibility, legal issues, dissemination, management, evaluation, resource management and pedagogy.
The people who work with these support agencies are often unseen in a personal sense. In a world where self promotion is highly effective using the social web – (see ‘how to be an e-learning expert‘ for a tongue-in-cheek description of this) many of these people are enablers – unsung and not noticed. In fact I would argue that often these ‘support’ teams are actually providing inspiration and stimulation for some of the innovative practice.
Someone has to have the vision to devise a programme that results in meaningful outcomes… We need people who can see the bigger picture and where individual project activities can be taken into the wider community.
I have worked mainly with the JISC and HE Academy communities and the staff often bear the brunt of negative perceptions of these agencies. I’m not saying that agancies like this always get things right – like everyone else they make their mistakes, but spare a thought for the hundreds of people who make these agencies consistently deliver positive services and outcomes…
It’s dangerous doing a list in case I forget someone but I want to offer massive thanks to all those people who tirelessly work in the background to make others achieve greatness… Christmas cheers to JISC programme managers, JISC Cetis, JISC Techdis, Jisc Infonet, JISC Legal, JISC RSC’s, HE Academy and HE Aacdemy Subject Centres, CETLs and I will add Becta (although I have not worked with that organisation myself). Do not assume that these staff are not themselves teachers, researchers, innovators and creators.
If you have ever been rude enough or arrogant enough to assume that staff working for these agencies are less innovative, intelligent, knowledgable and dedicated than you and your project teams – then shame on you… (I could do my own list of people who did this to me when I was a JISC Programme Manager but wont embarass anyone).