The impact of digital communication on workload
When the Queensland Teachers' Union (QTU) canvassed 12,000 teachers, heads of program and school leaders for the 2018 Teacher Workload Survey, more than half of the respondents claimed that reducing digital communication had a positive effect on workload.
That finding prompted implementation of a 'right to disconnect' campaign, which the QTU says aims to both reduce workload and to develop a preferred and purposeful definition of professional autonomy. The latter recognises the need for teachers to employ self-determination to address their own work-life balance.
Thanks to the prevalence of technology and tools designed to simplify and streamline our working lives, we're increasingly required to maintain an 'always on' presence, often to our detriment. According to QTU, educators must be given the right to disconnect from online tools, email servers, social media and other apps during out-of-office hours.
The union suggests a lack of legislative provision that enshrines employees' right to disconnect, coupled with the time required to manage work that arises from digital communication, leaves teachers open to an intensified workload created by the very tools designed to streamline workplaces and occupations.
QTU stresses that a campaign to disconnect from digital communication should not be viewed as a campaign against ICT in its entirety. It refers to its Position Statement on Information and Communication Technology, which recognises the benefits offered including increased efficiencies via online curriculum materials and student reporting as well as the ability to share learning resources, ideas and practices on a global scale. Rather, the union calls for reason when it comes to the excessive communication and bureaucracy that can arise from the use of digital communication tools.
To learn more on the campaign, visit the QTU Journal article here.
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