Recently, I attended a meeting of the BOCES Educational Media and Technology Association (EMTA) in Rochester, New York. Visual Learning Systems has been a member of this organization for nearly 15 years. The organization is made up of very dedicated media coordinators from New York State BOCES (Board of Cooperative Educational Services). Also, it is made up of over two dozen corporate members. The goals of this organization are multifaceted including the selection of media to add to library/media center collections, providing access of content to educators, professional development, and cost-saving techniques to name just a few.
The BOCES EMTA is a unique organization in that it brings together publicly funded educators and private sector educational company representatives in a partnership. Over the years this relationship has been invaluable to me as an educator and a business owner. Not only have individual BOCES supported Visual Learning Systems by purchasing our products, but they have also provided feedback on product development. The BOCES media coordinators are some of the most highly qualified, dedicated professionals I have come to know in my career as an educator. I consider this group to be a role model for many other states in the country.
Two general membership meetings are held each year. In the spring a large, multi-day conference is held. In the fall a meeting is held which I just attended. Last week’s meeting consisted of an executive meeting followed by a general membership meeting. In the afternoon a professional development session focused on ways to promote media services. Each BOCES member shared some specific strategies implemented to “get out the word” on the fabulous array of teaching and learning tools provided by individual BOCES. It was evident these media coordinators realize they need to promote their services so classroom teachers, building librarians, and administrators will use them. An internalized collection is of little value to students or the tax payer. They shared a variety of creative tools such as websites, brochures and in-person presentations. The session reenforced the fact that we live in a time of tremendous resources, but these resources are only valuable if front-line educators know they are available, and in turn use them in the classroom.