To give you indicators of the French pedagogical debates that are currently taking place among our French colleagues, here are some examples of subjects that I have discussed with some of them:
According to what I have been told, social media are banned from schools by direct order of the authorities of the National Education. Several teachers have asked me if there is such an instruction in Quebec. I explained to them that this is not the case and that the teachers have a lot of latitude as to the didactic tools they wish to use. Whether for the use of social media, as for that of any tool, whether technological or not, it is the educational intention that prevails.
That said, yes, there are several teachers who use Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and even Snapchat with students, but it is impossible to establish the quantified trend. For those who are approaching the flipped classroom, YouTube seems a tool of choice for uploading their video clips.
So, yes, teachers can use social media, and certainly in the overwhelming majority of cases, it is done with good judgment and professional judgment. The only instruction that is usually given to teachers is not to make personal use of it with students and to respect the basics of professional ethics, which is usually not a problem.
This debate quickly crossed the Atlantic: the Macron government had promised to ban phones in schools from elementary to high school and this for the students as well as for the staff who work with them. The Minister of National Education, Jean-Michel Blanquer, therefore announced, last December, that this promise would be implemented. from the start of the 2018 school year.
Once again, as is the case in Quebec, teachers are divided: on the one hand, those who advocate digital citizenship education denounce this decision, while on the other hand, there are those who advocate digital citizenship education. who welcome this decision by arguing that it is a huge distraction in the school context. How will this be implemented in French schools? That remains to be seen and the Minister has not yet addressed this subject.
I told them about some Quebec schools that have adopted "AVAN" ("Bring your digital device") measures, better known under the English name of "BYOD" ("Bring your own device") in recent years. I gave them the example of the Alex Manoogian School which is certainly one of the first to have implanted and developed a code of ethics to support such school use. All in all, AVAN is well experienced in the classroom when the pedagogical use is circumscribed and supervised by the teacher.
More and more, in Quebec, we are approaching the use of digital tools with students from a perspective of citizenship and digital education.
Been to Seesaw? I witnessed a discussion between a teacher and a school executive in which the teacher asked to use the app with his elementary students. To his disappointment, this request was refused on the pretext that there is a law stipulating, among other things, that the data collected by these platforms must be stored on French territory, which is, it seems, not the case with Seesaw. It is probably for this reason that Google Classroom, Google Docs, Dropbox, etc., are struggling to establish themselves in French classes, despite the fact that several teachers would like to use them for educational purposes.
Programming and robotics
Definitely, these are two areas that arouse real enthusiasm among teachers and students, at least according to my observations, at the elementary level. Ozobot is very popular, just like Bee-bot and Blu-Bot. In this regard, the Laboratory of Innovation and Digital for Education (LINE) led by the professor Margarida romero, is active in the field to provide teachers with frameworks for the pedagogical use of robotics in collaborative and creative situations for students. This is the case, for example, for projects #smartcitymaker and #créetaville.
If at first glance the French seem to take different educational and digital directions from those of Quebecers, at least two particular factors must be considered: we are, unlike the French, greatly influenced by American, Albertan and Ontario practices. Geographical proximity probably plays an important role in the (non) dissemination of ideas to Quebec as well as to France. Also, we must not overlook the important cultural differences between Europe and America in several areas. Education is certainly no exception.
Despite everything, the French are very interested in what is happening here in education and with the integration of technologies. A good example is certainly the sketchnotes by Jacques Cool and of Sylvia Duckworth which are displayed on the walls of the offices of the Digital Education Directorate at the Ministry of National Education, in Paris!
This article is part of a series published by our author and collaborator Marc-André Girard, as part of his participation in the Laboratory of innovation and digital in education (LINE) at the University of Nice Sophia Antipolis.