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Montreal - Researchers and teachers are ready to take stock, ten years after the arrival of portable classes in Quebec schools. On May 11, around thirty of them gathered during the Odyssey of portable classes… colloquium from elementary to post-secondary organized as part of the 78th ACFAS congress which took place at the University of Montreal.
The morning of this conference was devoted to the Quebec perspective of portable classes. Several of the presentations were linked to research projects by professors from the University of Montreal. The experience of the Perce-Neige elementary school in Pierrefonds attracted particular attention.
Marc Dubois, principal of the school, came to share his experience of portable classes, which have existed in his school for two years, thanks to a project of the University of Montreal.
He notes that the challenges are primarily technical, setting up a wireless Internet network, learning to use the laptop cart, but also human. To perform the experiment, teachers had to teach at least 70 % of the time using ICT.
It was a real challenge for them and they felt a significant loss of competence at the start. "A project of this kind requires a lot of reorganization on the part of the teachers and the adaptation time is long", explains the director.
Mr. Dubois believes that a lot of time should be spent thinking about the integration of ICT in the classroom when implementing a project like this one. Teachers should not be left to fend for themselves, especially in the first year. According to him, however, the results are stimulating; children are more engaged in their studies, more motivated and above all very proud.
Sophie Goyer, from the University of Montreal, came to present the results of her study of the logbook of one of the teachers who participated in the project. If the start of the school year seems to have been more laborious, the teacher nevertheless noted that the parents were impressed by the students' work. The teacher's biggest challenge was to keep records in order to facilitate the assessment.
The Perce-Neige experience also enabled Simon Collin, a doctoral student at the University of Montreal, to study the impact of ICTs on students' results in French. His longitudinal study compares handwritten written texts with texts written in word processing.
The results show that children perform better in spelling and using all caps when using the computer. However, the handwritten texts had fewer syntax and conjugation errors.
According to Simon Collin, the use of ICT is efficient if it is accompanied by student reflection. For example, automatic correctors are useful for students who are thinking about different propositions and who do not automatically choose the first answer.
The last part of the morning was devoted to a round table in the company of several experts and educators. The participants wondered, among other things, if the laptop was the best tool for Quebec classrooms, since we noticed that computers are often underused.
In the age of the iPad, iPod touch and interactive whiteboard, some believe that it is better to wait a few years before equipping classrooms with laptops, while teachers gradually integrate ICT with simpler tools.
To visit the conference website and consult the speakers' presentations: http://acfas2010.crifpe.ca/.
To know more : http://www.crifpe.ca/
By Marie-Philippe Gagnon-Hamelin