Why are eLearning Coordinators like Milkmen?

One of my very first jobs was painting Garden Gnomes. Several years later I joined the local milk delivery team. I wasn't paid much as a milkman, however, I enjoyed the thrill of riding on the back of the truck and grabbing cartons or bottles of milk and leaping from the moving vehicle, running up driveways and footpaths, jumping fences and leaving orders beside the front door of different homes.

Deliveries would commence straight after school and carry on until the early evening. I managed to run with three bottles of milk in each hand. Carrying six bottles of milk while running required strength and fitness. The truck was full when we started and as the duty progressed, I would stack the empty crates at the back of the truck. By the final delivery there was little or no milk remaining. The driver and I would each celebrate the end of the day by drinking a carton of flavoured milk as we returned to the depot.

My seat throughout deliveries was a large esky. Inside the storage unit was custard, cream, yoghurt and other dairy products. We delivered the produce throughout our journey. On board the milk truck we carried ice creams, eggs, juice and during various seasons an assortment of cheese. Needless to say we delivered a variety of dairy products. Surprisingly regular deliveries only accounted for half of the demand because the remainder of sales were from people waiting on the curb or urgently running from their home to make purchases as we drove our usual delivery route.

We zigzagged through the streets of the country town until sundown. On some corners and in some streets small groups of people waited for us to make neighbourhood deliveries. They would wave down the driver and they would in turn approach the truck and I would attend to their various requests. I would accept payment and provide change from the bag strapped around my waist. The social interactions were wonderful. Relationships developed and many customers became regularly dependant on our service. Unfortunately most home delivery systems have since closed because people developed the personal belief that the same or similar products can be purchased from corner stores or local supermarkets. In result the milk deliveries ceased operation and customers began to rely on alternative means of gathering supplies. Immediate, friendly, personalised and reliable support was no longer available. Rather than milk or other dairy items being delivered to the home local communities now collect grocery items on their return home from school or work. People battle for car parks at the local store to purchase a few supplies and end up walking out with more than was needed. Our daily lives are becoming busier and to manage time affectively families are resorting to ordering groceries online. Delivery trucks are returning to the streets of our neighbourhood.

eLearning Coordinators are a valuable commodity through provision of their reliable and friendly service within school communities. Like the local milk milkman visiting home after home, eLearning Coordinators visit classrooms to provide assistance. Staff regularly rely on assistance, guidance and coaching in the use of technology to cater for the demands of twenty first century learning. Approximately half of the school community require personal support in the use of technology and from experience I have seen individuals thrive on the provision of a mentor to assist with the integration of technology within curriculum. Due to time constraints teaching staff rely on 'just in time learning' and therefore require aid in developing blended learning approaches immediately. They await support like the lady on the side of the street who forgot she needed sour cream for the beef stroganoff recipe. This time, however, there isn't a milk truck coming along her street.

The milkman always carried a range of products and eLearning Coaches have an awareness of various tools, strategies and pedagogical methods that enhance teaching and learning. They have their hand on the pulse and an awareness of current trends, developments and workflow techniques. eLearning Coordinators provide coaching and swiftly respond to the demands of staff. In the same way I leapt from the truck to deliver milk, eLearning Coordinators respond in a timely manner to requests to ensure teaching and learning are not stalled. They are enthusiastic about providing support and are often aware of the needs of customers.

Unfortunately many schools have limited funds to support the role of eLearning Coordinators. The role either doesn't exist or is rolled back to function as a part-time position. Fortunate schools have individuals operating in a full-time capacity or at best several staff sharing the job to drive educational outcomes and academic excellence. The hidden danger of eliminating the role of eLearning Coordinators is teaching staff will find support elsewhere. While this can drive autonomy it may result in sour milk and stale teaching. Without regular support educational staff may rely on long-life milk and use default teaching practice instead of pushing the edge of their professionalism. eLearning Coordinators can deliver fresh ideas and unique products.

I have been both a milkman and an eLearning Coordinator. I see many parallels. The strongest is the unique relationship the job shares in assisting the community with staples of life; milk for living and technology for learning.


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