Last spring, we attended the two public meetings of the Consensus Conference on the use of digital technology in education. All the presentations and the content of the discussions were then taken into consideration. The result is a report containing seven practical recommendations that can be applied in the workplace and that has just been made public.
Our EVA Report - Equity and Value in the Use of Digital Technology for Teaching and Learning has just been published on the website of the Centre de transfert en réussite éducative du Québec (CTREQ), which initiated the process. It reflects the two themes that emerged from the work of the Consensus Conference, namely democratization of uses (equity) and "return on investment" (added value to learning).
"If these recommendations are implemented, the teacher's role as mediator will grow as he or she masters the digital technologies in the classroom," said Josée Beaudoin, Thérèse Laferrière and Simon Collin in the report's opening remarks. They were respectively co-chairs of the conference and chair of the jury.
The report also mentions that "as teachers are at the heart of a school team's pedagogical expertise, they benefit from actively participating in the choice of hardware and software technologies that are most appropriate to support their local pedagogical needs and purposes". Now that the school context is becoming more normal (after the two years of the pandemic), they must be able to argue that the pedagogical component should always take precedence over other considerations when making decisions related to digital technology in their respective environments.
The objective of the Consensus Conference was to continue the exchanges and to propose recommendations that would make sense in the present context for the majority of the actors, but which, in addition, would prove to be levers to move from peripheral use, even in times of crisis, to almost daily use for teaching and learning.
During the work of the Consensus Conference, "a twofold orientation quickly emerged: the need to combine equity of access and use with added educational value. Thus, two axes were determined to structure the exchanges and reflections.
The democratization of digital technology (equity)
"While the pandemic has enabled a massification of digital in schools through the purchase of equipment, this has not necessarily led to its democratization, as it requires the implementation of appropriate, meaningful and sustainable pedagogical practices and policies."
The return on investment (added value)
"It is not enough to replace traditional technology (blackboard, textbooks, workflows) with digital technologies while still doing, in essence, the same thing as before. In short, the costs in time and money must be translated into gains in learning."
The 7 recommendations
The following is a brief description of the seven recommendations (and their sub-recommendations). We strongly encourage you to read the report to find out more about each of them.
1. Digital technology, towards greater democratization of access, education and governance and towards greater accountability of the actors involved
1.1 Further democratize digital access in schools and at home for teachers and students
This recommendation is the premise for many others. Without access to equipment and the Internet, the uses cannot take place.
1.2 Make digital education more democratic
An explicit and exclusive space should be devoted in the curriculum to digital literacy (including its computational, ethical and critical dimensions).
1.3 Democratize the development and implementation of digital education policies
Leadership from school principals will be strategic moving forward, as they should be able to implement local digital integration strategies.
1.4 Supervising the use of digital resources by educational technology companies
The free, mainstream tools that are used in the classroom do not necessarily comply with legal privacy guidelines.
2. Digital, the time required to implement appropriate pedagogical choices
2.1 Agree on new time management arrangements
Teachers need to be able to schedule time to move from use to daily use. Time must be arranged accordingly with school teams and principals.
2.2 Free up teaching days for teachers who, on a voluntary basis, would like to introduce digital technology into their planning
Pedagogical days are valuable for engaging school teams in planning work (beyond training).
2.3 Provide funding to support volunteer teachers in the development of value-added, digitally supported learning activities and projects
The release of teachers who will be responsible for developing and sharing best practices for classroom management when electronic devices are deployed in the classroom.
"More usage does not guarantee added value. Conditions are required."
3. Digital technology, "doing with" for classroom use that adds value to teaching and learning
3.1 Using digital technology to encourage student engagement, a priority condition for success
Student engagement is enhanced when dimensions of digital competence are realized in the classroom: creating, communicating, collaborating, problem solving, developing critical thinking, etc.
3.2 Create and make digital resources available
School team staff may need to collaborate on the creation and sharing of editable resources. Custom designed content has become essential.
3.3 Target processes that characterize different classroom and school management dynamics in order to optimize digital uses
The use of electronic devices calls for the development of functional processes that allow everyone to learn. It would be beneficial to involve students in defining these new processes.
4. Digital technology, to make assessment a lever for student learning
4.1 Use digital tools to assess learning
Digital technology makes it easier to keep track of students, and thus to assess the student learning process and not just the final result on a single exam.
4.2 Linking the Québec Education Program (QEP), the Framework for Digital Competency, the Policy on the Evaluation of Learning and the Progression of Learning (PPL)
Assessment with digital technology should be presented consistently within departmental documents to ensure equity for students.
5. Digital, towards complementary services for hybrid and distance students to ensure their accessibility
5.1 Conducting an assessment
While gains were made in terms of providing complementary services to students digitally during the pandemic, a picture of current practices should be documented.
5.2 Conducting pilot projects
Some school service centers are currently reorganizing their services to take into account the advantages of digital technology. Providing them with the resources to turn them into real pilot projects could be an important step.
6. Digital technology, an essential part of initial teacher training and professional development
6.1 Support communities of practice and learning communities focused on specific digital uses
The communities that are established should be structured to support short-term transfer of results to the classroom. Teachers experiment (action) and share (reflection).
6.2 Build on win-win collaborations between schools and universities focused on specific digital uses
Exchanges between academia and schools must be increased in order to bring theory and practice closer together, while at the same time bringing out new innovative practices.
7. Digital technology as an added value for networking the school with families, community organizations and other extracurricular actors
7.1 Establish more sustained communication channels with families
It is proposed that policies for school-family communications be put in place to diversify the means of communication (digital and non-digital) and the ways in which messages are responded to.
7.2 Formalize collaborations with community organizations
- for the development of digital literacy: Digital literacy training and support for parents is essential for them to fulfill their role in their children's educational success.
- to benefit student learning: It is suggested that distance extracurricular partnerships be facilitated by enhancing the activities eligible for financial assistance and building on successful practices.
Now that the report containing the recommendations has been tabled, the CTREQ is continuing its work in order to stimulate reflection on the recommendations and to develop concrete courses of action for each of them. A first public meeting was held on October 26. A report on the discussions will eventually be published. We will continue to follow the progress of this work for you.
References : Beaudoin, J., Laferrière, T., Collin, S., Ruel, C., & Voyer, S. (2022). EVA Report: Equity and Value Added in the Use of Digital Technology for Teaching and Learning. Quebec: CTREQ.