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Portable classes: from St-Léonard to Yaoundé

Montreal - Quebec is far from being the only region in the world where we are wondering about the integration of ICT in education. During the Odyssey of portable classes… from elementary to post-secondary, presented within the framework of the 78th ACFAS congress at the University of Montreal, several speakers came to present their projects.

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Montreal - Quebec is far from being the only region in the world where we are wondering about the integration of ICT in education. During the Odyssey of portable classes… from elementary to post-secondary, presented within the framework of the 78th ACFAS congress at the University of Montreal, several speakers came to present their projects.

Laptops in Cameroon
Ella Ondoua, from the University of Yaoundé, made the long trip to Montreal to talk about the Pilot Project for the Improvement of the Quality of Basic Education (PAQUEB). This project, still in the experimental stage, aims to provide 37,500 students in 51 schools with XO laptops, donated by the organization One Laptop Per Child. 140 laptops have already been purchased, 7,000 are yet to come.

So far, the experience is being lived by 622 students and 14 teachers. In Cameroon, the classes are very large: those targeted for the project have an average of 104 students.

Ella Ondoua noted that teachers collaborate more with school principals, responsible for managing computers, and prepare more for classroom activities. The participating teachers all received a full week of training, given in collaboration with Université Laval.

The main problem identified by teachers is the limited number of computers and the low battery life. Ella Ondoua, meanwhile, notes that this project, initially political, must constantly be readjusted with the help of educators.

50 million euros for laptops
In September 2009, the Greek government offered a coupon of 400 euros to all students in the first year of secondary school to buy a laptop, ie 120,000 students aged 12 and 13. 7,000 teachers also received a cell phone. Vassilis Komis, of the University of Patras, drew up an initial assessment of this operation in front of his colleagues in Montreal.

First, Mr. Komis clarified that Greece has a long tradition of teaching computer science at the secondary level and therefore has a large teaching staff in computer science.

Despite this, the situation is sometimes difficult: like his Quebec and Cameroonian colleagues, Professor Komis notes that teachers urgently need training. In addition, there is little appropriate educational software. Also, while in theory all colleges have an efficient wifi network, in practice only 62% colleges have a usable network.

Greece is currently going through an extremely difficult economic situation. Vassilis Komis hopes that this project will not be affected by the budgetary austerity measures since it would be impossible to assess the success of the project with a single cohort.

A classroom without a desk or a textbook
Pierre Poulin's 6th grade class in St-Léonard looks like an Internet cafe. In this icl @ sse very particular, technology is used to motivate students and develop their autonomy. There are many tools available to them, they now have to choose which one to use. Behind this autonomy, we still perceive the discreet but effective intervention of the teacher, who perfectly masters his tools.

The Montreal icl @ sse project first had to be accepted by the administration and the school board. At the end of the year, Pierre Poulin's students must now overcome a new challenge: enter a secondary school that is not ready to receive them.

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

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