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Published September 16, 2016 | English (Second Language)

A Motivating Message Regarding Technology in the Classroom from an AQPC Honourable Mention Laureate

In her 25 years of teaching, Louise Dubuc has always had a positive outlook on technology and teaching. Teaching English to students in a region where the school only had a few English books in the library, guided her to the Internet and the use of technology in her pedagogical approaches early on in her career.

It is no wonder that someone with such an open mind to experimenting in the classroom was a laureate of the Honourable Mention from the AQPC 2016. Louise Dubuc teaches English at the CEGEP de Matane, where she is also known as an inspiration to other teachers in the school. When Louise found out about being a recipient of the award she was very moved and happy.

It gave me a boost to continue on and knowing that your peers think that highly of you is very incredible.

Not only has Louise been a promoter of technology in the classroom for many years, she also participates in a tutoring program at her CEGEP in collaboration with Performa. She tutors teachers, mostly new to the field, helping them with teaching strategies and classroom management.

An Early Innovator with Technology

Louise, originally from Quebec City, had the fortunate experience to attend school in English. These beginnings have obviously had an influence on her entire life, including her career. In 1998 she started to think about adding a computer laboratory for English teachers at her CEGEP. Her first use of techno-pedagogy with her students was to create a webpage and she has never stopped integrating new approaches since these first steps. Louise believes strongly in taking technology one step at a time, ensuring that the tools she chooses are simple and user-friendly. She describes herself as a lazy-techy!

I love using technology as long it does not take over the lesson. It has to be simple and flow.

Early on (before the days of Omnivox and Léa), she wanted to go paperless and find a way to have students submit assignments electronically, so that she could correct them on her computer. This led to a project, developed with the help of her IT Rep, to work with macro technology that is integrated into the Word program on her computer. She has 10 choices for her correction, such as wrong verb or wrong verb tense, that she can use to correct her students’ assignments without touching a pen. She simply highlights the error in the document and clicks on the type of error from the list of Add-ins available in her Word menu. She knows that the macro technology she uses is on its last legs to being compatible with new versions of Office Suite, but she will use it for as long as she can! She has shown this technology to other teachers, and she also presented it at the RASCALs convention in 2008.

View of a written assignment. She simply highlights the error in the document and clicks on the type of error from the list of Add-ins available in her Word menu.

An example of how Louise uses macro technology to provide students with feedback on written assignments.

Although she has been using technology in her pedagogical approaches for almost 20 years, she humbly tells me that she is not ahead of anyone else at her CEGEP. She feels fortunate to have a Dean of Studies that encourages the use of technology in the classroom and ensures that the teachers have the support they require to carry out this type of pedagogical approach. The school’s IT Rep is also very helpful in putting together new projects with teachers. CEGEP de Matane believes strongly in innovation and creativity, in all of their programs, from general education to their distance education courses.

Current Innovations

Louise is currently working on developing an on-line course for the CEGEP, as well as developing some new activities for her 100-level students this semester. She is never at a loss for ideas and she enjoys variety. She keeps what works and moves on from what does not.

Her latest project is to help her students with oral presentations. Being an English teacher to students who live in a region where English is not heard on a daily basis, Louise knows her work is not an easy task. She believes that a language cannot be learned without trust and fun. The trust part comes from not laughing at each other while trying your best.

She and a colleague (who is teaching the 101-level students) are borrowing the idea of “Humans in New York”, by Brandon Stanton and they have created a project called – Humans of Matane.  Students have to use technology and photography to meet other people and conduct interviews. The CEGEP de Matane has many international students and ensuring that her students treat them with an open mind is important to Louise. The international students often come from countries where they are taught to memorize, and their spoken English is not very developed. She tries to stay away from the traditional front of the room class presentation and this project will help them practice their English in a different way. Students will also write a story about their experience as a photo journalist and they will then create an exhibition in the library of the school to display their Humans of Matane project.

Louise believes that a teacher can bring students to do many different things, even surpass themselves and their capabilities. She likes to begin and end the semester with the question of: “So, did you think you could do that?” Of course at the beginning of the semester, the answer is “No”. But at the end of semester, students are amazed with what they have accomplished.

Louise will continue to vary her pedagogical approaches and to innovate as much as possible. She would like to learn more about Google Docs to encourage team work and to use that for correcting. In the meantime, she remains open to technology – even cellphones can be a practical tool: “If you can’t beat them, join them!” She continues to tutor teachers and to inspire those around her to innovate their pedagogical practices – remembering to keep it simple and to take it one step at a time!

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