- NOTE: This document draws heavily from recommendations of the Electronic Communications Subcommittee of the task force convened by AECT Past President Robert Harrell. Each recommendation has been developed herein into a policy for its implementation to provide the services described. Its first two sections describe the services to be provided; the final section describes the personnel and organization needed to make these services possible. No priority of services should be inferred: all can, and must, be accomplished. Some may be implemented before others, but not in place of them. The combination of services is what ultimately matters.
- Elec. Svcs. - Electronic publishing
- - Journals - Books - Weblogs - News and Announcements - Governance (meeting minutes) - Podcasting
- - Electronic convention services
- - RFP management - Call for Proposals, review process, convention planners' activities - Convention scheduling - Registration - Activities during convention
- - General
- - Membership database upkeep - Voting - Sales
- Section One: Modeling Effective Technology Use to Meet Members’ Administrative Needs
- AECT is about the effective use of technology. At a minimum, our operations must reflect the fact that AECT has mastered the productive uses of the tools that our members work day in and day out to implement in their organizations. Ideally we will move beyond this point and become a model for effective technology use, and our members will see in our operations tools and methods that they may suggest for use by their own organizations. Our members deserve a high-performing team working effectively to give them what they need and want, when they want it. Our staff and division leaders should have no trouble establishing or operating asynchronous threaded discussions and e-mail lists or synchronous chats for the conduct of Association business. Generating membership mailing lists, budget data, and conference or publication information must be simple and straightforward, and submitting or reviewing a conference session proposal should not involve multiple copies of paper-based forms. A number of electronic services contribute to this first goal:
- 1. Emphasize Electronic Distribution over Paper-based Distribution
- a. Electronic distribution of information is faster, cheaper, and generally more useful than paper-based distribution. For these reasons, AECT leaders and staff will employ it as our primary mode of providing member services and publications. This should include both “push” distribution items such as newsletters and regular reports to the membership, and “pull” distribution items like documents, presentations, and other resources available via the AECT website. Answers to Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Association and Foundation history, mission, structure, and operations should be conveniently accessible in this fashion, and members should be able to join, cancel, and administer their AECT e-mail list memberships easily from the post-login members page.
- b. Listserv administration should be set up according to the following format
- A) There should be an automatic opt-in list that is moderated (Low traffic) coming from AECT headquarters. All AECT members should be signed up for this list. AECT presidents, other national leaders and appropriate people should be designated as moderators for this list.
B) A Similar listserv (moderated) for divisions should be established. This list would be moderated by division leadership. If you are in the particular division, you should be expected to be in this list. It would be automatically opt-in. A person joins a division, they are signed up for the list from the division as well.
C) A third listserv should be established. This is a free for all for each division. Member-member discussion should be encouraged on this list. This list can be encouraged, or ignored as individual members choose. People can opt-in to this list.
- b. At the same time, we must remember that AECT is the oldest professional association devoted to educational technology, and as such has members whose contributions literally shaped our profession and our Association long before today’s electronic technologies existed, who may not have access to them or have become proficient in their use. To balance these competing imperatives, AECT will provide most information in electronic form, but offer paper-based copies of key publications to those members who prefer that mode, at a cost that fairly reflects the additional burden to the organization.
- 2. Use Electronic Meetings to Avoid Travel Costs Video Teleconferencing (VTC) systems are in place at many institutions where our members and leaders work, and well-equipped facilities can also be rented from commercial sites. (Kinko’s, for example will rent access for meetings.) Desktop VTC technologies have also become relatively sophisticated and widely available. Teleconference meetings can save money—for the Association and for members—on transportation and lodging, and time previously spent in travel. These technologies can also be used to conduct “special events” as a service to members—for example allowing participation of guest speakers who would not be available to us (especially at the Division or Chapter level) for a face-to-face event. VOIP telephony should be investigated as a cost saving measure for regularly scheduled teleconferences.
- 3. Manage Submission, Review, Approval, and Scheduling of Conference Session and Workshop Proposals Online Conference planning activities will be supported using the Association’s electronic services resources. The solicitation, submission, review & approval, and scheduling of conference sessions will be managed through online forms linked to AECT databases, to accelerate these processes and largely eliminate the need to ship paper around the world. Wherever possible, automation will be used to make conference planning easier to manage and more responsive to member needs. For example, an automatic mailing to all current members could solicit session proposals, and automated crosschecks could ensure that all presenters are registered for the conference before their sessions are listed in the program, and that sessions involving the same presenters are not scheduled at conflicting times.
- 4. Encourage Online Conference Registration A full spectrum of conference registration services will be made available online. At a minimum, this must include a secure page on which the prospective attendee can supply all necessary information (including credit card information) to complete their registration for the conference, conference workshops, ticketed conference events, and other conference services such as proceedings or special accommodation—and to do so without requiring staff intervention. The ability to renew membership as part of the same transaction should also be provided. Ideally, linkages would also be established to allow a registered attendee to add or subtract additional selections under the registration itself at a later date: for example to order proceedings (or extra copies thereof) that were not selected as part of the initial registration, or to cancel workshop attendance (up to a certain date)—and to accept and submit the credit card charge or credit to support these transactions—also without staff intervention.
- 5. Make Comprehensive Conference Information Available Online Collection of conference session proposal information online will enable AECT to provide this information in turn to prospective participants. Upon session acceptance, detailed abstracts and presenter bios will be made available to assist them in choosing to attend and in identifying presentations and presenters of interest. This information should be searchable, to facilitate this process, and should be indexed by sponsoring division, council, or affiliate (or other sponsor such as for AECT Presidential Sessions). Subsequently, as conference planners schedule session times and locations, this information should also be available online, and prospective attendees should be able to access a second index giving them access to the program for each day, with offerings sorted by timeslot, to allow them to plan their schedule at their leisure before arriving at the conference. As the conference date nears, presenters could also be encouraged to post additional information.
- 6. Provide Modern Database Services to AECT Members and Leadership The AECT databases should be a centerpiece of value added for the Association and its members. At a minimum, these databases must maintain all critical information on members and Association assets & activities in a secure, clean, accurate, and easily accessible form, and should be designed in accordance with current Information Systems and Knowledge Management best practices. Ideally, all Association databases will be linked and interoperable, such that related records can be matched across databases to facilitate data mining and routine information access and such that replication of common data is minimized. All of the information contained in the database should be accessible directly by Board members and division leaders, and much of the information should be accessible to each member (including ALL identity, contact, and employment information pertaining to themselves). This access should be provided through a secure, web-based environment, so that users can connect to it from home or office, and should facilitate user self-service (e.g., member editing of own information, Board generation of custom mailing lists, etc.) and minimize the need for staff intervention; nevertheless, all AECT staff members must be proficient in the use of the database system and its associated tools.
- Right now there are two layers - staff and members.
- This should change to:
B) Main office staff
C) National Leadership
D) Division Leadership
- 7. Leverage Modern Telephone Systems and Procedures (Voice and Fax) AECT staff and leaders will, wherever both effective and practical, employ e-mail, fax transmission, and telephone conferencing to promote regular communication supporting the routine administration of the Association. This will include but not necessarily be limited to monthly Board meetings and weekly Executive Committee meetings, which shall be conducted by conference call when not collocated with a scheduled Association conference. The AECT Executive Director and President should have cellular telephones provided and paid for by the Association; all Board members and staff should have voice mailboxes at home and/or at the office, and should check them regularly.
- 8. Provide Current Budget Information to Association Leaders on Demand Current, accurate budget information should be provided to Board members each month, in advance of scheduled conference calls. Electronic services will facilitate this using e-mail, a web-based interface, or an automated fax back system.
- 9. Market AECT and Partner Publications through an Online Store Much of AECT’s potential value added for our members and for the profession takes the form of scholarly and practical publications generated by divisions, councils, affiliated organizations, and individual members themselves. (I don't agree with this premise! NOL) Member (and potential member) access to these publications should be facilitated by a secure, online store allowing prospective purchasers to browse offerings, view abstracts or tables of contents, select publications to purchase, and provide all billing and shipping information necessary to complete the transaction. Where AECT is not authorized to sell or distribute a member’s commercially published media, links to the publisher or authorized distributor’s online stores (to the specific publication’s page, whenever possible) may be provided to facilitate purchase.
- Using Technology to Expand AECT’s Contribution to the Profession
- 1. Provide Electronic News Bulletins to AECT Members Electing to Receive Them In a fast-moving profession in a fast-moving world, the publication timetables for books, journals, and magazines are by themselves inadequate to convey the up-to-the-minute information on the field that our members need to support their work and scholarship. Here, electronic services have a key role to play in locating, collecting, and distributing the most important developments and professional resources of which members should be aware. Electronic news bulletins that gather this information and combine it with Association news can provide enhanced value at reduced cost compared to traditional, paper-based newsletters. These should be concise, with hyperlinks to greater detail where appropriate, and should ideally be issued monthly, or whenever important information for our members is received.
- 2. Expand the Scope and Value of AECT-sponsored Journals and Publications
- a. The journals published by the Association remain both key venues for publication and important sources of research articles and other information for our members. This value is further enhanced by their growing electronic presence on the AECT website. Historically, the Association has felt that restricting this electronic access to members and subscribers using an ID-and-password “intranet” best protects its intellectual property. Substantial empirical evidence is accumulating, however, to suggest that free electronic access actually increases sales of paper-based publications by broadening their audience and enabling a “try before you buy” approach to subscription.
- b. The Association should also take advantage of its online presence to make non-periodical publications available. The “AECTion Packs,” a series of “just in time” professional non-periodical publications online, are one example: brief, technology-related guides, similar to the PDK “Fastback” series. Other examples include key AECT reference works like the Handbook of Research and “Getting Started in Research” volumes As with our periodical publications, these could be made freely available to expose graduate students and other potential members to AECT’s expertise and knowledge base.
- 3.Provide On-demand Services to Members and Prospective Members via the Web
- a. The vision statement for AECT’s website reads as follows:
- The AECT Web Site will be a center for information seeking activities in the field of instructional technology. The site will be recognized as a leading information source in the field. It will provide a dynamic structure for communication and information on the application of instructional technology.
- The AECT Web Site must be:
- an active and vital resource which demonstrates AECT’s leadership role in instructional technology
- a fluid, dynamic environment that addresses the needs of our constantly changing profession
- a flexible resource that serves a diverse membership in a wide variety of work settings
- a communication link between all educational settings within the organization
- a resource to develop alliances with organizations that share common concerns and interests
- The transaction site functions include
- online conference registration,
- online session proposal submission,
- online membership application/renewal, online purchasing through an AECT Store, and
- others as described in Section One of this chapter.
- Communication site functions include
- online forums related to current issues, pending legislation, etc.,
- web-based conferencing among members, (This is a pretty faint nod NOL)
- forms for requesting or submitting information to the national office, and others.
- As an information site the AECT website provides (We need to figure out how to make this more accurate NOL)
- information on AECT, its divisions, councils, & affiliates,
- events, news of interest to AECT members and prospective members, and
- searchable online access (for members only) to the current member directory and
- any current AECT conference program.
- The AECT Website serves three general purposes, providing a transaction site, a communication site, and an information site.
- The transaction site functions include
- - online conference registration,
- - online session proposal submission,
- - online membership application/renewal,
- - online purchasing through an AECT Store, and
- others as described in Section One of this chapter.
Communication site functions include
- online forums related to current issues, pending legislation, etc.,
- web-based conferencing among members, (This is a pretty faint nod NOL)
- - forms for requesting or submitting information to the national office, and others.
As an information site the AECT website provides
- - information on AECT, its divisions, councils, & affiliates,
- - events, news of interest to AECT members and prospective members,
- - searchable online access (for members only) to the current member directory
- - AECT conference programs
4. Support Routine and Ad Hoc Communications to and Among Members
AECT should support web based and email communications among members. Examples include but are not limited to:
- Web based discussion lists
- Other technologies
5. Provide Virtual Presence. Provide Virtual Presence and Support for Association Conferences and Other Face-to-face Functions In addition to the conference planning and administration services described in Section One of this chapter, electronic services may be used to enhance and extend face-to-face events of the Association in ways that can expand our contribution to the profession. Examples of this might include live webcasts of conference sessions, chat rooms where session “minutes” could be posted as the presentation unfolds—and where questions could be asked of the presenter by “participants” unable to attend the physical conference—or post-conference support such as web posting of presentation slides and other materials, and asynchronous forums where discussions begun at the face-to-face session could be continued and expanded. For additional information on the structure of these services, see Appendix A to this chapter. ce and Support for Association Conferences and Other Face-to-face Functions In addition to the conference planning and administration services described in Section One of this chapter, electronic services may be used to enhance and extend face-to-face events of the Association in ways that can expand our contribution to the profession. Examples of this might include live webcasts of conference sessions, chat rooms where session “minutes” could be posted as the presentation unfolds—and where questions could be asked of the presenter by “participants” unable to attend the physical conference—or post-conference support such as web posting of presentation slides and other materials, and asynchronous forums where discussions begun at the face-to-face session could be continued and expanded. For additional information on the structure of these services, see Appendix A to this chapter. 5. Provide Virtual Presence and Support for Association Conferences and Other Face-to-face Functions In addition to the conference planning and administration services described in Section One of this chapter, electronic services may be used to enhance and extend face-to-face events of the Association in ways that can expand our contribution to the profession. Examples of this might include live webcasts of conference sessions, chat rooms where session “minutes” could be posted as the presentation unfolds—and where questions could be asked of the presenter by “participants” unable to attend the physical conference—or post-conference support such as web posting of presentation slides and other materials, and asynchronous forums where discussions begun at the face-to-face session could be continued and expanded. For additional information on the structure of these services, see Appendix A to this chapter.
We need to consider a method of online professional development for training AECT members. This would be conducted via MS Live Meeting. Many AECT members still are not up to speed on weblogs.
This would be 1-2 hour professional development sessions. We could charge a small fee to cover the costs of the server. Potentially, we could partner with a university or consortium of universities for professional development credit.
Possible topics - Blogs, MS Powerpoint, Aggregators, Others.
Section Three: Personnel and Organization
Frugality would argue against a significant staff to expand into new services or forms of service delivery. However, it is equally clear that an organization of educational technology professionals must model the effective use of the technologies of our field in Association activities if we are to remain credible to our core constituencies. It is therefore imperative that AECT maintain an adequate paid staff augmented by sufficient volunteers to competently field the services described in the preceding two sections.
1. Paid Staff
- At a minimum, AECT must employ a highly-skilled, full-time Electronic Services Manager, and fund sufficient part-time hours at a level adequate to attract the additional personnel needed to complement this individual’s time and talent in delivering the full range of necessary services. (Part-time employees could take the form of personnel shared with a partner organization, or of graduate assistants from a top program that develops the necessary skills.) Ideally, two full-time employees would divide the services into the two categories described above (also supplemented as needed with part-time assistance). For example, one could be responsible for the membership database and online presence, and for the associated administrative support services; the other could be responsible for the conference planning database and online presence, and for the associated professional support services.
- a. It is risky to ask too much of our volunteers: other priorities will intercede and important work will sometimes be delayed or dropped. Nevertheless, an appropriate mix of paid staff and volunteers can be effective, especially if the volunteer work is allocated among institutions (rather than individuals), and if those institutions have a track record of service to AECT. For this reason, AECT should strive to maintain a series of competitive year-round volunteer “internships” to be awarded to the most qualified, most reliable candidates from institutions that have demonstrated a commitment to the Association and its mission.
- b. Applications for these Electronic Services Internships will describe the candidate’s qualifications for the position sought. Each application must include at least one letter of reference from a professor or supervisor of the potential intern, attesting to the fact that the applicant has the needed skills and will follow through, and describing adequate arrangements for local mentoring throughout the internship year. Applications should be submitted to the Electronic Services Manager, who will forward them to the members of the AECT Electronic Services Committee for competitive evaluation. Evaluation will be according to a rubric developed and approved by the Electronic Services Committee in consultation with the Electronic Services Manager, with the internship being awarded to the highest-scoring applicant for each position who scores at the “highly qualified” level. (No internship will be awarded for a given position until at least one highly qualified applicant is found.)
- c. Interns selected will report to a member of the full-time paid Electronic Services staff. These interns should be compensated by the Association as it does other interns, with formal recognition at the conference, free conference registration, and perhaps one year of free membership following each successful year of service (at the discretion of the Electronic Services Committee, upon recommendation of the supervising Electronic Services staff member).
- a. All full-time Electronic Services staff will report to the Executive Director; part-time staff will report to the full-time staff member in whose purview they are working. Both full- and part-time staff will require high-quality access to the Internet and to each other, but do not necessarily need to work at AECT Headquarters. Position descriptions must specify that these employees have the skills and self-discipline necessary to telecommute, in addition to the technical and leadership competencies associated with their jobs.
- b. Ideally, Electronic Services staff members will be located near a university having a strong educational technology program and a history of commitment to AECT, or near an AECT corporate sponsor. Such proximity will enhance the likelihood that prospective interns and/or reasonably priced office space with high-speed Internet access will be readily available. While the investment required to support this structure will nonetheless be significant, the cost of not doing so is prohibitive: the lost credibility that an educational technology professional association lacking an exemplary selection of electronic services would suffer could cost us our very existence. The opportunity cost of foregoing the potential new revenue streams derived from these services must also be factored into this decision.
Sample Electronic Services Procedure for Enhancing the AECT Conference
- 1) Request that divisions, councils, and affiliates ask their presenters to: a) create abstracts of their presentations and short bios of all presenters upon session acceptance; b) post these resources on the web prior to the conference; c) supply the URL to the program planner.
- 2) Ask the divisions, councils, and affiliates to consider making server space available to presenters who do not have ready access to it via their own accounts.
- 3) Ask the divisions, councils, and affiliates to rally volunteers to create web pages for presenters lacking the needed skills, but who can send electronic text and/or images to simplify the process.
- 4) Ask the divisions, councils, and affiliates to collect the URLs provided by their presenters and use them to create a program web page through which their members might find these resources.
- 5) Ask the divisions, councils, and affiliates to pass the URLs on to the AECT Electronic Services staff, who will embed the URLs into the Association’s conference program database.
- 6) Publish a set of “suggested guidelines for presenters” (probably on the Web) to recommend font sizes, font types, color combinations, ways to make the resources accessible to users with disabilities, etc.
- 7) Offer guidance to presenters as they prepare the online versions of their sessions.
- 8) Request that the divisions, councils, and affiliates select one or more sessions they believe their members will find most interesting, and create “online conversations” around these sessions, beginning before and continuing well after the sessions.
- 9) Ask each division, council, and affiliate to select one of its presentations for recording, and to get the presenters’ permission for this, then host a contest among educational technology graduate programs (and perhaps corporate sponsors) to see the creative ways that their students/employees can capture and make the session available afterwards. (Funding to support this competition might be sought from the ECT Foundation.)
- 10) Use webcasting—or another low cost technology—to make at least one high visibility session (perhaps a Keynote) available to members who cannot attend. Use e-mail to gather questions from the field during this session, and have the presenter address these questions in the form of a web page on the AECT site.
- 11) Create an improved conference session evaluation form on the web (to assess online “sessions,” and perhaps face-to-face sessions as well).