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Testimonial: Digital technology to adopt a posture aimed at universal pedagogy

Véronique Chouinard, BÉPEP student at Université Laval, presents a reflection on how teachers can take advantage of the accessibility of digital tools and use them effectively as a means of learning?

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By Véronique Chouinard, student of the BÉPEP of Laval University

According to Cathy Brazeau (2019), technology should be favored by the teacher because of its great flexibility, which makes it possible to meet the needs of learners and increase accessibility to learning […]. It is also important to stress that digital is omnipresent in the lives of students. So how can the teacher take advantage of this accessibility and use it effectively as a learning medium?

Does the use of technological tools promote learning?

When planning teaching-learning situations, the teacher must take into account an important factor, namely the cognitive heterogeneity of his learners. It is therefore essential that the teacher knows the strengths, challenges and interests of his students in order to optimize the integration of content. 

When a student learns, three areas of his brain are involved. According to Belleau (2015), when the motor cortex, the limbic system and the prefrontal cortex are called upon at the same time, they mobilize the brain, which promotes learning. For this process to take place, you need an interested and engaged learner. This vision of the learning process is the key element of Universal Design for Learning (UDL). 

Senécal (2018) explains that it is a set of principles related to curriculum development that promotes equal learning opportunities for all individuals. By opting for this pedagogical posture, the teacher uses technologies in a central way in order to offer students an inclusive classroom environment. He knows the diversity of the needs of his learners and chooses technological tools adapted to them.

The digital tool as a source of learning

From this perspective, the teacher must promote the digital tool as a source of learning and not only as a means of entertainment. To do this, he must supervise the use of digital tools and use them moderately. Depending on the pedagogical intentions, the teacher ensures that their use generates a real impact in the learning process rather than being a distraction or an obstacle.

In addition, the use of technological tools also promotes inclusion. Depending on the different needs, the use of digital tablets, interactive whiteboards and educational applications offers a variety of inclusive means. Here are therefore various interventions proposed in connection with the three fundamental principles of the AUC.

Commitment : Focus on stimulating tasks

It is essential to offer stimulating tasks to the students in order to promote the learning process. Several teachers use the free writing routine. In order to promote the virtual engagement of students, the teacher can, for example, integrate it digitally. Using the tools of Google Slides or from Google docs, the teacher can more easily provide feedback to the students and they can come back to work on a text without having to start all over again. 

In addition, they can add images related to their texts, vary the fonts and collaboratively write a text remotely. This greatly promotes student autonomy and keeps them engaged in the task. If free writing is a class routine, digital free writing can also become so in order to see the progress of students, both in terms of their digital autonomy and in terms of the learning achieved.

To adapt to the different rhythms of the students and facilitate the continuity of learning, the teacher can offer the submission of work electronically using Wizer.me. This tool looks like Google Forms, but offers several digital devices such as text holes, multiple choices, identification of elements in an image, etc. 

The teacher can send a previously constructed assessment to the platform and the students can thus perform the assessment. Using this tool, the teacher can create weekly reviews, dictations, cards for the number of the day, questionnaires, etc. Its operation is similar to that of platforms Seesaw and Google Classroom. The teacher must create an account and register his students on the platform. He can thus ensure the follow-up of the discounts, see the progress of the students and vary the assessment formats. Finally, it is also possible to provide written or vocal feedback when the evaluation is delivered. 

Representation: Opt for interactivity

Knowing the variety of learner needs, it is important for teachers to offer content in different formats during learning activities. The educational differentiation is therefore promoted by focusing on the different interests of the students. 

Among the panoply of means, the teacher can present the information by using educational videos, diagrams, sketches or images to support his teaching. He can then deposit them on a platform such as Seesaw, Teams or Google Classroom so that students can access it at all times. The pupils can then review the content and make sure that they have understood the material correctly. 

Not only does this accessibility promote their capacity for self-evaluation with regard to their learning, but it also allows students to develop strategies that they can reuse in other contexts using the same tools. 

To promote digital interaction and check students' understanding, the teacher can ask them to give feedback on their learning via an audio or video recording. Beforehand, the teacher will have supervised the students in order to teach them how to verbalize their understanding and he will use clear learning objectives. The pupils will therefore have an easier time performing the task and they will also develop their digital skills.

Another interesting way is the use of podcasts. To assess competence Read various texts, students are offered different types of everyday or literary texts in order to develop the different strategies relating to text comprehension. But, what about their listening understanding? Given the accessibility and diversity of existing podcasts, it is relevant to use them to assess students differently. Depending on their educational intent, the teacher can choose a podcast and provide the student with questions on paper or electronically. Students can therefore listen to the podcast at their own pace and answer the various questions afterwards. 

Both in class and at home, students can complete the task using their digital tablet, phone or computer. There are several interesting podcasts on the website of Radio-Canada And the one of Flea in the ear. To go even further, the teacher can suggest that the students record their own podcasts and thus explore the skill of communicating orally.

Expression: Encourage the creativity of learners

The guiding principles of the AUC encourage the teacher to focus on the creativity of the learner and to prioritize the different modes of expression. According to Couture (2020), in the article Organize your ideas efficiently & creatively, "Creativity helps to attract attention and to make connections with our vision of the world". From this perspective, certain digital tools allow students to interact and participate in the teacher's presentations. 

Using extensions Pear Deck or Near Pod on presentations Google Slides, the teacher can engage the students in teaching a concept. It can add different types of interaction in the slides such as whiteboard, word wall or interactive questions. The teacher must first share the presentation code like the quizzes Kahoot and students can access the presentation on their digital tablet, phone or computer. 

The teacher can choose different display types for responses and manage student responses. The teacher can ask the students to draw an element related to the subject taught or to write a simple word to give feedback on the learning. In short, the use of these tools offers several interesting possibilities.

Finally, to encourage learners' creativity, the teacher can allow the students to express themselves freely in relation to the concepts retained using the croquinote method and the application. Sketchbook. However, in order for the students to truly benefit from this method, it is important that the teacher explains the basics of it to the students. 

Using a sheet of paper, he can simply ask them to draw shapes such as a circle, square, cloud and use different colors to emphasize their drawings. Subsequently, he can ask them to write or draw the information retained on any subject. 

At another time, the teacher can give the same instructions to the students, but they must use the app Sketchbook. This app allows students to use colored pencils, felt-tip pens, paintbrushes, create shapes, etc. They can therefore express themselves in their own way. 

The teacher can use this method as a return to the end of a teaching-learning situation or set aside an entire period so that students can write down their knowledge on a topic before an assessment. They will be able to develop their skills to synthesize information and to represent important information in their own way and according to them. Moreover, the Coach Mao resources offer several great resources to learn about croquinote.

In short, the use of digital technology allows teachers to opt for a posture aimed at universal pedagogy. They become aware of the diversity of learners and choose technological tools that aim to develop the full potential of students. The effects are thus maximized. 

References

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