3 recommendations for the pedagogical use of computer programming in Quebec

The report resulting from the retreat on the pedagogical use of computer programming in elementary and secondary schools in Quebec was published at the beginning of the summer. We present the three main recommendations.

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Over the past year, more than 70 stakeholders from the school community participated in four half-day reflection sessions on the pedagogical use of programming. Together, they discussed best practices and winning conditions for integrating it into Quebec's elementary and secondary schools. Their report proposes three concrete recommendations.

Approach leading up to these four half-day retreats began when Sylvie BarmaThe Quebec Ministry of Education asked the professor of education, Dr. J.-P. D. D., to reflect on the issue. She decided to bring together researchers, educational consultants, elementary and secondary school teachers, school principals, members of community organizations (including the director of École branchée) and ministry representatives to discuss the subject and come to a consensus on the issue.

"Considering the divergent visions of the different school actors regarding the integration of computer programming, it is necessary to deploy favorable conditions to engage in a constructive dialogue on computer programming in the classroom," reads the mandate statement.

Our REPORT Days of reflection on the pedagogical use of computer programming: Findings on the integration of digital literacy was published last June.

A common definition

The 70 or so participants first had to discuss what computer programming means to them. They came up with a common definition.

"Programming is about developing students' algorithmic thinking, computational creativity and digital skills. It should be there to solve problems creatively, methodologically and cooperatively. This keeps students motivated and valued. To be effective, it must be at the service of learning, it must be transversal and concrete. In addition, a change of posture on the part of teachers must take place. They must develop a greater tolerance for risk and error. Teachers therefore need ongoing training, materials and collaboration in their community to make this vision of programming possible."

The work

Afterwards, they had the opportunity to hear from international researchers about studies conducted on the integration of programming in schools elsewhere in the world, and they attended presentations on projects underway in Quebec schools.

Finally, they participated in a World Café type workshop. This means that in teams, they had to formulate proposals and, in turn, build on the ideas put forward by others on various themes. Seven themes were discussed: 1) time; 2) money; 3) continuing education and support; 4) access to resources; 5) the training program and its cross-cutting nature; 6) initial training and researcher-practitioner collaboration; and 7) learning assessment. A prioritization exercise of the proposals was carried out afterwards.

The need to innovate

At the end of the process, three recommendations were made by Ms. Barma and her team. They are introduced as follows in the report: "These recommendations are in line with the need for us, as actors in the world of education, to put forward the necessary audacity, creativity and spirit of innovation that we need to develop in our young people a strong digital identity with a view to collective emancipation. There is no doubt that learning and practicing computer programming fosters the development of broader skills in all school subjects as well as in learning areas such as problem solving, creative thinking and critical thinking."

It is also specified that: "Learning to program must be considered in a broader context and not be limited to coding for coding's sake. Throughout the days of reflection on the teaching of computer programming, a consensus among participants (teachers, researchers, educational advisors, administrators, representatives of organizations) was established around the importance of taking into account ethical aspects, a broader understanding of issues related to digital technology, social and identity issues, knowledge of relevant criteria for information retrieval, as well as the underlying elements of AI algorithms and social networks so important in the lives of young Quebecers.

The 3 recommendations

Thus, the 3 recommendations are as follows:

1. Integrate the development and evaluation of digital competency in all school subjects of the Quebec Education Program from preschool to the end of high school

It is recommended that each program be revisited and formalized with requirements to guide the teaching and assessment of digital competence in :

- creating a learning progression (PDA) for the 12 dimensions of digital competence;

- Implementing pilot projects in primary and secondary schools to identify and validate indicators of digital literacy and computer programming development;

- Assigning a percentage of 10 % of the assessment to account for the integration of digital competence in each academic subject.

2. Establish and maintain partnerships between the Ministry of Education, universities, organizations and schools.

This may result in :

- Forcing the sharing of knowledge developed by organizations working in the field in the digital world with the research world and opening communication channels with ministerial bodies.

- To document good practices and not lose sight of the rapid changes in society and their impact on young people, by allocating a recurring (non-political) budget to document the impact of digital technology on young Quebecers from preschool to the end of high school.

3. Respond to the needs of schools for digital literacy learning and assessment and recognize the commitment of teachers.

This can be done in the following way:

- Support teachers' professional development to maintain a self-efficacy attitude toward digital competence.

- Recognize the commitment of teachers when they participate in pilot projects or other activities on the pedagogical use of computer programming, in the form of academic credit or release time in their schedule.

The full report is available online on the Quebec Ministry of Education website. 

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About the Author

Martine Rioux
Martine Rioux
After studying public communication, Martine worked as a journalist for various publications, before pursuing her career as an interactive communications consultant at La Capitale, a financial group, then at Québec Numérique, an organization she took over as general manager before making the jump. as political advisor in the office of the Minister for Digital Government Transformation. Today she is the online Editor-in-Chief and Special Projects Manager at l'École branchée. Her dream: that everyone has access to technology and can use it as a tool for learning and opening up to the world.

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