The information and communications technologies (ICT) situation is improving in Quebec public schools. However, many computers are not suitable for efficient use of multimedia and the pedagogical integration of ICT remains a major challenge for teachers. This is what emerges from a report published by the Ministry of Education, Leisure and Sports (MELS) last November.
The 2009 survey on ICT for general education for young people allows us to identify certain trends, although the report does not make a precise diagnosis on the use of ICT in schools. This survey was conducted by the MELS with a sample of 360 elementary schools and 244 Quebec secondary schools during the 2008-2009 school year. Each participating school answered a questionnaire on its computer park and on the use of ICT by students and teachers.
The first part of the survey focuses on the number of computers accessible in schools. While two-thirds of the devices are installed in classrooms and fixed labs, only 6 % of the computers are part of a mobile lab.
The survey also reveals that more than a quarter of school computers are not connected to the Internet. Of these, 65 % secondary schools have a wireless network. This figure drops to 40 % for primary schools. The vast majority of computers are networked.
The percentage of computers suitable for efficient use of multimedia is however low: half of secondary school computers meet this criterion, while barely 40% of primary school computers are suitable. While the vast majority of schools have multimedia projectors, only a third of primary schools and half of secondary schools have an interactive whiteboard.
In an interview with the Journal de Montréal, blogger and ICT specialist Mario Asselin affirmed that schools are not under-equipped, but that the equipment to which young people have access at school is out of step with that of the home, more efficient, without blockages or filters. Mr. Asselin gives the example of the Facebook and YouTube sites, blocked by many school boards. “Young people are fueled by the possibility of existing, of being recognized,” he says. When they post information and see that they are feeding Google, they get energized. It becomes stimulating for them to use the Internet. "
The educational use of ICT
The MELS survey also shows the poor mastery of ICT by teachers. Thus, less than 60% of primary school students use ICTs and the Internet at least once a week. Twenty-six percent use multimedia every week. In secondary school, 50% of young people use the Internet, 39% ICT and 22% multimedia once a week during their learning activities.
Activities related to ICT are essentially basic activities such as word processing or spreadsheets. Thus only a minority of teachers make their pupils use telecommunications applications (forums, correspondence, consultation of experts) and self-learning ICT applications (information search, websites). A minority of teachers used specialized software for teaching specific subjects (music, design, robotics) at both primary and secondary levels.
The study also reveals that teachers mainly use ICT to plan their teaching and to make presentations in class, but a minority of them make use of the computer and the Internet in the realization of the work by the pupils. The training of teachers in ICT is mainly provided by peers.