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Published May 25, 2009

Cooperatively Constructing Competence in the IT Representatives' Online Library

As professionals and teachers, we live in a world where knowledge in general as well as pedagogical expertise are in constant expansion. Ongoing changes in pedagogical approaches, discipline-specific developments, information technology in education and a growing array of related fields leave us incapable of staying current on updates and research even in our own specialties. We are all prisoners of time!

Far from suggesting a perfect solution to this dilemma, this column is an attempt to showcase the IT Representatives' Network, a community of practice, which serves as a beacon of efficiency in the need to stay informed that is the hallmark of our age. The on-line library that is the result of the dynamic work of this network is featured as an example of their approach.

IT Representatives. Photo credit: Marie-Pier Fournier

I have had the chance to coordinate the activities of the Information Technology Representatives' Group, bringing together counsellors responsible for the promotion of IT in cégeps around the province. At one point, the network had two distinct linguistic branches with names in both languages: the Réseau des répondantes et répondants TIC (REPTIC) and the IT Representatives' Network. The cooperative nature of the work of the members from both linguistic groups, however, has seen members drawing together to create an environment where benefits are shared and communication in any language is encouraged. Meetings and activities that include everyone are now the norm!

In this spirit of cooperation, the members of the IT Representatives' Network have employed two simple-to-use and easy-to-obtain tools, a listserve and a webspace to assemble a great reference library. Imagine being able to consult IT profiles for college students, a guide for creating a program-specific IT exit profiles and many other valuable resources as well as the results of  calls for information using the listserve.

This important information has been assembled in the following manner:

Let's suppose that Marleigh Lamb-Sparks, a member of the IT Representatives' Network, is given an assignment to propose a departmental policy on electronic plagiarism or is asked to participate in the selection of a language lab for her college. Preparing for this task could occupy many hours which could otherwise be spent dealing with other issues.

Marleigh sends out a request for information on the REPTIC listserve.

The members of the list respond to her directly so as to not to unnecessarily overload participants' inboxes.

Several days later she compiles a list of all the responses she has received indicating their source and distributes it using the listserve. This operation has saved Marleigh hours of research and produced the most up-to-date results possible.

The cherry on the sundae is the compilation, which is then deposited in the REPTIC on-line library in the Polls - Inventories - Compilations Section where other IT-Reps can benefit from the information when they have similar tasks to accomplish. This is an example of how the library on the IT Representatives' site has been assembled.

A cooperative effort, this bank of information meets the specific needs of the Reps by grouping dozens of useful resources, many of them locally produced and extremely relevant for the mandate of the IT Representative, in one convenient location. A research motor with advanced research functions using tags for the resources of the library is available to make this information yet more accessible. Speaking of tags, the English Resource tag will produce some results, and there will be many more for autumn.

As a teacher, you probably do not have the time to follow all that is happening in IT across the network, but a short meeting with your IT Rep can frequently produce a response to any questions that you may have. If the information is not already in our library, a quick question on the listserve can elicit results from several colleges.

If you yourself wish to know more about the IT Representatives' network, you are always welcome on our site or you can stay up-to-date by subscribing to RSS feeds in the RSS Reptic section located halfway down the right hand column on most pages on our site.

To conclude, do you see an application of the principles for information gathering discussed here as being useful for your own field of study? I would very much like to read what you have to say about this subject. Use the Reader Response Feature below to share your thoughts on this matter with your colleagues.

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