“By becoming a teacher, you agree to become a lifelong learner. Professional development could even be part of the reflexes to be acquired from initial training. This is all the more true when it comes to developing digital skills,” says Maxime Pelchat, digital strategist at CADRE21.
As part of Teachers' Week, the Edteq Association presented an online activity on February 11 on the development of teachers' digital skills. On this occasion, Maxime Pelchat exchanged with Pierre-Olivier Garand, doctoral student in education and lecturer at the University of Quebec at Trois-Rivières (UQTR).
It is possible to re-listen to the entirety of this very dynamic exchange on the chain École branchée from your favorite podcast platform, or directly here:
From the outset, the two speakers agreed that there are still certain challenges when it comes to getting teachers trained in the pedagogical uses of digital technologies. Although there are reference documents such as the Digital Education Action Plan, the Digital Competency Development Continuum and the Professional Competency Framework for the Teaching Profession, some reluctance remains.
Similarly, university programs leading to teaching practice are still very uneven in terms of the integration of technologies in their training course, and this is without taking into account that the use of digital technology is not necessarily part of the evaluation criteria for traineeships for future teachers.
"We observe an amalgam of fears, and they are all legitimate", agrees Pierre-Olivier Garand. In his pedagogical introduction to technologies course, he aims to get his students to qualify the use of digital technology in education.
First, what is called "digital education" can take several forms: administrative or pedagogical tools and those that teachers use in a personal way, technologies in the classroom, those used to teach at a distance, etc. . For example, even if a person describes himself as not very comfortable with technologies, he will have no choice but to use those imposed by his employer. “You just have to think about the platforms to record student grades for the production of report cards. The system is thus made, it is not a personal question. »
Then, “for a teacher, the goal is to give his lesson in the best possible way to engage his students. He must ask himself if technology can be a good tool to achieve this. Since screen time is already relatively high among young people (social media, video games, etc.), the reflex is sometimes to tell oneself that it is already too much and that it is better to favor paper and pencil . “On the other hand, we can't pretend that digital doesn't exist and take the screens out of the classroom. On the contrary, the teacher has a guiding role to play with his students. It then becomes an opportunity to support them in their use. In short, you have to develop your critical spirit around the use of technologies. »
And this is where we come back to the need for teacher training. "Continuing training is imperative and should be anchored in mentalities", maintains Maxime Pelchat. He acknowledges that keeping digital skills up to date can be a big challenge for some teachers, when there is not enough time to multi-task. “In this sense, digital is also becoming a tool to facilitate professional development,” he argues, mentioning the communities of teachers who share online resources on various social media.
A word on scientific research and digital technology in education
The sciences of education are not exact sciences where one can study phenomena “double-blind” (as one would do with taking a drug and its placebo in pharmaceutical research). “Studies are heavily context-dependent and it will almost never be possible to replicate two similar studies,” says Pierre-Olivier Garand.
This also concerns studies on the use of digital technology in the classroom. Several factors can influence the results (socio-economic context, learners' initial skills, etc.) and studies can relate to the use of a specific tool. Generalizations are therefore not possible. According to the doctoral student, we obtain a portrait in a given context. We can draw inspiration from it to go further, but these are not conclusions to be taken literally.
“Since there is vagueness around the integration of digital technology in the classroom, should we wait before using it? I don't think so," he concludes.