Did you say confinement? Not for the Networked School!

Some of our neighbors like Ontario or some countries like France and Israel already had plans B for online courses. In Quebec, we wondered when schools closed. Yet the Network School (EER) shows that in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, we also have tools that can work and that have been proven. Again, you have to know them.

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Some of our neighbors like Ontario or some countries like France and Israel already had plans B for online courses. In Quebec, we wondered when schools closed. Yet the Network School (EER) shows that in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, we also have tools that can work and that have been proven. Again, you have to know them.

At the turn of the 20th century, optical fiber took off. At the time, the CEFRIO (Center facilitating research and innovation in organizations, using information and communication technologies) has been somewhat challenger by the Quebec Ministry of Education to allow small schools to be connected so that they do not close. It is in a way the genesis of Networked School, as told by its director, Josée Beaudoin, the former vice-president of innovation and transfer of CEFRIO. A few months later, with the help of Professor Thérèse Laferrière from the Faculty of Education at Laval University, the École en Réseau (EER) was born.

Since 2002, the ERA, funded by the Ministry of Education and Higher Education, has adopted these three verbs of action, which serve as objectives: innovate, collaborate, learn. The director general of the EER specifies certain figures. “We currently have around 30 school boards with us. They even receive some funding from the Department. »Between 1,000 and 1,200 primary and secondary school teachers participate in the network's various activities. “About 80 % teachers are from primary and 20 % from secondary,” says EER coordinator Esther Simard St-Pierre.

The school in a network, how does it work?

Free for teachers, the communication platform VIA provides access to project videoconferences. On the EER site, thanks in particular to resource teachers, there is also a virtual educational support room, which is there to help teachers who are taking their first steps in videoconferences as an educational tool. In terms of functionality, VIA offers an easy-to-use whiteboard, and Esther Simard St-Pierre mentions that it is also possible to distribute PowerPoints, even small videos.

Also on the EER website, teachers will notably discover two sections, “ Network activities / spring 2020 " as well as " Shared Directory ". In the first case, these are activities that the Networked School carries out with various partners such as the Miguasha National Park in Gaspésie or the Living Memory Museum in Saint-Jean-Port-Joli. In the second case, it is a directory of educational projects carried out remotely by teachers from across Quebec, with which it will be possible to join forces. What to give the taste to move forward with distance education, especially at this time!

Systems such as education, because of their administrative burden, are sometimes difficult to change. But the pandemic may allow us to develop new ways of doing things. Josée Beaudoin believes “that we are currently in the greatest inequality. Teachers who are advanced in online learning will advance their students… ”But what about the others? The ERA would even allow online assessment. Some teachers believe it. “We are in the process of transforming from what we know at the moment. In innovation, you have to know how to seize the opportunity, ”concludes Ms. Beaudoin.

To find out more, visit the School's website: https://eer.qc.ca 

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About the Author

André Magny
For more than 30 years, André Magny has been going back and forth between journalism and teaching French to teenagers and adults alike. Freelance freelance writer for various media including Francopresse, he was also a cultural journalist at Law in Ottawa and in charge of new technologies at Soleil de Québec. He also did sports journalism in France. He has a weakness for the Francophonie, culture, sports, cuisine and politics.

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