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A day of reflection on the use of digital technology in education

It has been more than 25 years (!) that digital technology has been studied in education, but it is evolving quickly and so are the contexts in which it is studied. This time, the Consensus Conference on the use of digital, organized by the CTREQ, allows experts and practitioners to come together to discuss the issue with the aim of formulating recommendations. We attended the first public session. 

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In collaboration with Martine Rioux

It has been more than 25 years (!) that digital technology has been studied in education, but it is evolving quickly and so are the contexts in which it is studied. This time, the Consensus Conference on the use of digital, organized by the CTREQ, allows experts and practitioners to come together to discuss the issue with the aim of formulating recommendations. We attended the first public session. 

What is a Consensus Conference?

“A consensus conference makes it possible to take stock of the state of knowledge about a question considered important by the decision-makers and practitioners of a profession. It makes it possible to establish areas of consensus and divergence on knowledge and to provide decision-makers and practitioners with clear orientations in terms of policy and practice, as well as precise indications on the conditions for their successful implementation. »

The consensus conference on the use of digital technology, organized by the Transfer Center for Educational Success in Quebec (CTREQ), is therefore a process over several months. Those are the jury members of the Consensus Conference, composed of actors from the practice and under the chairmanship of Professor Simon Collins, who will be responsible for formulating the final recommendations, expected in June. To do this, they immerse themselves in a process of seeking information, analysis, discussion, reflection and sharing. 

Two public meetings are planned in the process, the first was held on February 9, and the second scheduled for March 23, 2022, to allow the members of the jury to enrich their reflection by exchanging with experts able to answer their various questions, which produced various preparatory texts a priori.

The themes of the February 9, 2022 session were organized around professional development, service organization and teaching-learning approaches. In particular, it dealt with the role of school management, the evaluation of learning and the use of digital resources.

What are the conditions for bringing about lasting change?

In one of the blocks on class routines, Sylvie Barma, full professor at the Faculty of Education at Université Laval in science and technology didactics, and Sophie Nadeau-Tremblay, resource teacher for the Network school and lecturer at UQAC, named winning conditions that they believe could bring about lasting changes related to the integration of digital technology into practices. 

For Ms. Nadeau-Tremblay, three elements must be met:

  1. Present models of teachers and classes that are accessible to the majority (yes, present models that are really out of the ordinary, but they should not seem out of reach for teachers.) 
  2. Support teachers. This does not necessarily require training. Accompaniment takes several forms: helping others to progress, cultivating their agency, so that they feel supported.
  3. Provide simple and easy access to technological tools in the classroom. (It should not be complicated to reserve equipment, the internet connection must be reliable, etc.)

For her part, Ms. Barma expressed some skepticism about changing practices, especially at the secondary level. “There is still a lot of masterwork. According to her, as long as there is no concrete integration between the training program of Quebec schools and the digital action plan in education, change will be difficult. 

“The perception that the digital activities experienced in the classroom prevent you from “passing the program” is still very present among teachers. However, it is precisely these projects that make it possible to pass the program, ”added Nicole Monney, professor in the Department of Education Sciences at UQAC, during a subsequent block. She is convinced that if teachers had more time to plan their learning and assessment activities, they would succeed in integrating digital technology more into their practices.

His college Stéphane Allaire of UQAC shared a similar opinion during the last block of the day: “Innovative and new educational practices cannot arise by themselves. Teachers must be able to benefit from real quality time which they can devote to their professional development. The question of time is fundamental to planning and exploring new possibilities”.  

Beyond digital

Throughout the day, beyond digital, there was talk of benevolence, classroom climate, feedback, learning strategies, community of practice, development of socio-emotional skills, connection with the parents… All of these elements become premises for student learning. Learning is a process that is part of a whole, reminded the experts on several occasions.

“Digital is one element in a vast ecosystem. The value of digital directly linked to the socio-cultural context in which it is experienced. – Stephane Allaire

In bulk ...

Because we really took a lot of notes!

About artificial intelligence…

  • An interesting nuance to think about: the expression “digital intelligence”, proposed by Stéphane Roche, perhaps does more justice to what we are really aiming for, particularly for education. 
  • Education is interested in predicting data and behaviors in order to thwart them!

About professional development

  • For Audrey Raynault, the "just-in-time" approach is one of the most useful when it comes to training for teachers, since it is when they are in full action, in their class, that they need support. It's also just afterwards that they have time to reflect on what they have just experienced. The next day, it's too late, they moved on. 
  • According to Christine Hamel, Université Laval has decided to withdraw the course on digital technology in education and instead integrate it into didactics courses, ensuring that it is taken into account in a significant way in each discipline.

About pedagogical leadership in the face of digital

  • A recommendation from Ms. France Gravelle: As management, be open to digital, since it is the future. “[As a leader, ] you have to be part of the [school] team and demonstrate shared leadership. »
  • A recommendation from Benoit Petit: “We focus on logistics and sometimes we forget (…) that the affective dimension is very important. To exercise true leadership, one must develop one's socio-emotional skills. They are tools, he believes, for those situations where one has the impression of being in a “dialogue of the deaf”. 
  • A Resource to Know: Self-Study for Managers https://gestionleadershippedagonumerique.uqam.ca

About learning assessment

From Anne-Michèle Delobbe and Nicole Monney: 

  • “We have to break the idea that the evaluation is a final exam. Evaluation should be integrated into learning. »
  • “We have to think of digital tools that will make it possible to testify to the student's approach during the evaluation. »
  • “We cannot transpose what is done without digital into the digital universe [and hope that it works]. »
  • “A student's difficulties in writing and reading should not affect them in terms of assessment in subjects other than French [since that is where these skills are assessed]. We must diversify the ways of evaluating and digital technology can come to play a major role here (think of the contribution of technological assistance functions!).

About integration of digital resources

  • Jocelyn Dagenais recalled that the work of the Higher Council for Education on the question of evaluation in the service of learning remains an essential work to fuel reflection with a view to formulating recommendations. 
  • Steve Quirion offered an inspiring example from geography: "For example, we learn that a GPS shows us how to get from point A to point B. But afterwards, we know that we can take small roads and that the trip is often as interesting as the destination”… Which inspires us with a broader analogy between travel and digital integration! Indeed, while travelling:
    • Some prefer the shortest route (what will allow me to quickly reach my educational objective?)
    • Others prefer to intentionally lose themselves and make unsuspected discoveries (for example by exploring new ideas and ways of doing things with their students)
    • Still others will want to take a different route there and back (how can two different ways of doing things allow me to measure the same endpoint?)
    • You can travel by car, bicycle, plane, on foot, etc. (some means will be more practical depending on the destination, some will even be necessary – difficult to cross the ocean by bike -, while others waste too much time…)
    • Our tourism choices can be influenced, consciously or not, by advertising (is it really the best tool for my needs, or only the most popular?) 
    • etc! (Continue with us if you wish!)

You can register for the next public session, scheduled for March 23, here.

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About the Author

Audrey Miller
Audrey Millerhttps://ecolebranchee.com
General manager of École branchée, Audrey holds a graduate degree in educational technologies and a bachelor's degree in public communication. Member of the Order of Excellence in Education of Quebec, she is particularly interested in the professional development of teachers, information in the digital age and media education, while actively creating bridges between the actors of the educational ecosystem since 1999. She is involved these days in particular in Edteq Association and as a member of the ACELF Communications Committee. When she has free time, she is passionate about her children, his rabbits, horses, good wine and... Web programming!

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