Opening Statement



Thursday, 26 May 2011

Our Members Write No.2: Low Tech?

TSU member AB responds to my "In School Voting Pig in a Poke" post focusing on the pressing need to be able to better use technology to carry out our unit's business, in this case, with our recent TSU election:

Well said, David! I didn't understand very well, though, why we can't pass to the 21st century? More than convenient and fast, it's environmental friendly! Please, what do we have to do to have it done electronically or by phone? It's a right that assists all the members to be able to vote and not be conditioned by a location or with so restricted time frame. As you said, let's dialogue and do the change for better and for everybody!
Since AB wrote, we have indeed approved ballots, telephone and online voting for next year's TSU election. That's a big technological step for TSU, but it is not totally unprecedented. Scroll down to my April blog archive AB . You will find two further blogs "New Wave Social Media" and "Beginning Teachers and TSU Renewal".  They discuss in part how TSU has been catching the new technological wave to improve our services. The TSU "Joint Technology Committee Report"  [JTC] handed out at TSU UAGM also provides many insights and recommendations. I’ll try to get an electronic copy or link to share with you here on my blogspot. Or you could call the TSU office to see if any hardcopies are still available.

Let me summarize briefly some of the tech initiatives TSU has been involved with. President Rene Jansen is very keen on revamping our TSU Website so it is a better resource not only for TSU but also for others to use. Many of our committees are planning their own webpages. Beginning Teachers [BTC] plans to post all their info, documents and materials, as well as a BT Q+A. This could handily replace the quickly out-dated BT binders used in years past. Safe Schools Committee plans
to create a research library page of all the Safe School primary documents, reports and analysis we could possibly want or need. 


All of our huge stacks of TSU office files, often going back decades, are now being copied and filed digitally for reference purpose. This includes our grievance records, meeting notes, committee reports and materials. The new library will be much easier to search and use. It will also create an "institutional memory" for TSU, a complete record of all that we've done. It can be passed on to future generations of TSU'ers, so that all we have accomplished is not someday lost in the past.
Our Joint Technology Committee has prepared a report to submit to the TCDSB about how to improve the board website from a teacher’s perspective. Do you know where the mandatory "Safe School Reports" are on the board site? They are supposed to be completed each time a serious discipline incident happens! JTC has also been monitoring the roll out of the teacher computers each school has received from the board as a part of our Webmarks grievance settlement. The board might argue that a proper computer system for each school is too expensive. The again as a teacher, we can't be told we have to buy a computer for work, Webmarks or otherwise. Unlike a business person we can't then turn around and write it off as a tax expense either. If your school is anything like mine you couldn't give most of the old computers away at a garage sale. So what do we do? For the first time the board is required to provide upgraded teacher only computers that we all must be able to share at work. Granted there aren't a lot, but it’s a start!

Progress is often measured in small steps. Slowly but surely TSU's are getting bigger and bigger, but for the huge technological leap into the 21st century, we really need our younger teachers to help lead the charge. For many teachers in my older age bracket, it is not necessarily something that comes natural to us.

Try to picture the 1950's when I was born. The living room t.v. was a huge piece of furniture with a small screen showing black and white pictures broadcast from two or three stations. They did not broadcast all day or all night! The big technological breakthrough was the first Russian "Sputnik" satellite which orbited the earth for about a month. It contained two radio transmitters that went beep-beep-beep. There were dial telephones, no cells, except later on "Star Trek". Instead of a word processer we used clanky old manual typewriters and "white out". Your Grade 9 option was Typewriting or Art in the early 1970's. The first computer I saw was as large as a gym. The swirling tape reels were managed by scientists with clipboards wearing white lab coats in a sealed dust free environment. We all rushed to the university to watch. It could even played tic tac toe. Get the picture?

Of course that's no excuse for us not to at least try to catch the new technology wave, but it is a very steep learning curve, unlike for our younger teachers who grew up with cellphones, large screen digital t.v. and small personal computers. Even the social media probably is second nature to you. I would strongly urge you, and any of our computer savvy teachers to get involved in our tech projects at TSU by joining the committees I've mentioned. I am the liaison for BTC and Safe Schools but please ask around. There are a lot of other committees riding the wave and if not, maybe you could help get them started. Check the TSU website for an application or visit our office. As AB writes; "...let's dialogue and do the change and do it for everybody." With your help TSU's future is then truly within our reach.

Note: Sometimes a very topical or importance news piece will come along. I may have to change the order of the postings on my blog to make temporary accomodations. A new post will be featured tomorrow and I might start throwing in an appendum of odds and ends, maybe a few times a week or as need be. There should pretty much always be something new to see on this blogspot each day if you look around. Thanks! David


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