From the French Side: Going the Distance, Opening Up and Innovating, Naturally!
Hats off to the French Sector at Profweb, which produced some very inspiring publications in March and April 2015 that will help us to enhance our professional practice, and maybe even become better global citizens.
A Featured Report on Distance Education
Andréanne Turgeon, Project Manager, and Caroline Villeneuve, Coordinator of Profweb recently published a Featured Report on some of the current practices and issues related to distance education in the college network.
Outside of urban areas, in the various regions of Quebec, distance education is another means of providing access to studies for learners. This access can help diminish the exodus of the workforce and demographic decline that is a concern for the ongoing vitality of these areas. Distance education is also a means for recruiting outside of the administrative regions of colleges to ensure a viable cohort (an average of 15 participants). Marie-Hélène Bergeron, the IT-Rep at the Cégep de la Gaspésie et des Iles also makes the interesting point that distance education provides a means for employees of small and medium enterprises in the regions to upgrade their skills, as they are called upon to fulfill many roles (accounting, IT experts and secretarial functions).
The author of the present article knows a thing or two about the subject of distance education and congratulates Andréanne and Caroline for this thought-provoking contribution. It includes a wealth of information on the initiation of Teachers to blended delivery with technology, netiquette, and engagement strategies for distributed learners.
The Featured Report is currently in translation and will be posted on English Edition as soon as it is ready!
The Future is Wide Open
With the recent Free and Open Source Software conference organized by the ADTE, the network has been abuzz with discussions about the use of free content and software. A series of articles on Open Educational Resources (OERs), Creative Commons, Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) were contributed by Teachers, IT Partners, and Profweb’s very own Marc-André Laflamme.
Christophe Reverd from La Vitrine Technologie-Éducation (VTE) submitted an article designed to demystify the jargon used to describe materials and tools on the Internet, such as free, open, proprietary and cloud-based solutions. One of the key shortcomings of the English language is that we use the word ‘free’ to describe both the cost of an item as well as the liberty we may have to use this item. In French, the word libre describes the latter case and gratuit means there is no cost. Christophe deftly navigates through this terminology with some help from the Free Software Foundation, and touches upon some of the issues with using various types of licences, whether they be free or proprietary.
Profweb’s Marc-André Laflamme submitted an article that discusses why Teachers might be interested in looking into Open Educational Resources to enhance their teaching practice. OERs can take on various forms, be they lesson plans, videos, guides, or many other formats that can be used in teaching, included blended delivery (in class and on-line). Some Teachers are hesitant to use the material for concerns of copyright and plagiarism. This is where the Creative Commons Licence comes in. For more information, check out Marc-André’s article. For our unilingual Anglophone readership, read the in-depth article on Creative Commons submitted by Cristophe Reverd in 2013.
Rounding out the trio of articles on open resources is a contribution from a Teacher’s point of view. Kurt Vignola, a History teacher from the Cégep de Rimouski submitted a Real Life Story that begins with his personal history of using Free and Open Source Software. What began as a cost-saving measure 10 years ago, is now a personal crusade (pardon the history pun). Check out the article for Vignola’s take on the importance of teaching software skills to those that are more inclined to use mobile devices, and don’t forget to read the comments section below the article!
Can’t Stop Innovating
It is clear that the college network was hard at work this winter, pushing the boundaries of the classroom ever further.
A well-received Real Life Story was submitted by a team of Teachers and the IT-Representative from the Collège de Rosemont. Multiple teachers have been experimenting with Google Apps for Education with inspiring results. The integrated nature of Google’s services (think Gmail, Docs, YouTube, Agenda, etc) and their ease of use have lead to their quick adoption and appropriation by students. The story submitted by the team at Rosemont spans multiple disciplines, including History, Physics and French.
Profweb’s Andréanne Turgeon and Marc-André Laflamme provided an interesting brief on a webinar they attended. The session entitled Clearing the Confusion between Technology Rich and Innovative Poor was facilitated by Alan November. He is one of the co-founders of the Stanford Institute for Educational Leadership Through Technology, and was also described by Tech and Learning magazine as one of the most influential thinkers of the last decade. In their article Votre utilisation des TIC en classe est-elle réellement innovante? Andréanne and Marc-André relate the 6 questions we should ask to evaluate whether or not our use of technology is innovative. One of these is “do students have the possibility to establish a dialogue with an international audience?” If this is truly one of the key criteria, the next Profweb français entry can surely be classified as innovative…
A team from the Cégep Ahuntsic submitted a Real Life Story about the use of iPads for an integrative project in the Languages, World and Cultures program (German specialization). The project was a collaboration between the CEGEP, the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Montréal and Germany’s Central Agency for Schools Abroad (ZfA). The story defies a brief description, but suffice it to say that this is a must-read for educators that believe in cross-disciplinary approaches and the importance of art in education in producing well-rounded knowledge workers.
Martin Parrot, Editor from the French Side of Profweb, produced an interesting summary of a report on Serious Gaming published by REFAD (Réseau d’enseignement francophone à distance du Canada). You may recall that Educational gaming and gamification were identified by the 2011 edition of the NMC Horizon Report as likely to be adopted within a 2-3 year timeframe. Martin informs us that the REFAD report divides serious games into four categories: quizzes, gamified multimedia modules, simulation games and process simulations. Many of the examples of these serious games are drawn from products developed by our friends at the CCDMD, including Netquiz and SECRA, which is the simulation of a communication exercise in a helping relationship.
Trois-Rivières: There Must Be Something in the Water(s)!
In March and April, we have seen that Trois-Rivières is not only a convergence point for three rivers, there is also a whole lot of innovation in education going on. A special mention in this edition of From the French Side goes out to the Cégep de Trois-Rivières, which graced the pages of Profweb on at least three occasions in the past couple of months (including once in the English Edition).
The most recent entry about Trois-Rivières was penned by Martin Parrot (Profweb). Inspiring Portraits are a new type of article that Profweb will be publishing regularly beginning in the Fall. These portraits will focus on actors in the college network that are elemental in the process of introducing technology in the classroom. The honour of the very first portrait went to Chantal Desrosiers from the Cégep de Trois-Rivières. We learn that Chantal was initially a Physics Teacher, whose early use of Moodle inspired her to take a new path in her career – helping other Teachers to integrate technology into their teaching practice. She notes that the barriers to entry today compared to when she started as an IT Representative 8 years ago are much less intimidating. Chantal is a dynamic Education Advisor involved in several innovative projects, and has a particular penchant for Active Learning at this point in her career.
Nathalie Houle and Josée Brière, co-coordinators of the Nursing program at the Cégep de Trois-Rivières submitted a Real Life Story about their integration of simulations using high-fidelity dummies. The simulations use CAE Fidelis dummies that can simulate child birth! The simulations occur in a specially designed location that allows for the student’s intervention to be filmed. John Abbott College previously reported on their experience using high fidelity simulators in English Edition.
And while we are talking natural phenomena, this From the French Side closes with an entry submitted by Marc-André Laflamme (Profweb) that was posted on Earth Day (April 22nd). Marc-André informed the readership about an environmentally and socially-conscious seach engine named Ecosia. The search engine donates its surplus revenue to tree-planting projects. At the time of writing this article, Ecosia states they have planted 1,821,545 trees. In his article, Marc-André points out that any CEGEP wishing to attain or maintain its Cégep Vert status has every interest in promoting the use of this search engine. He also states that environmentally conscious millennials will likely be receptive to making Ecosia their new default search engine. I just did!
The home page of the Ecosia Search Engine
Thanks again to Profweb français for its many inspiring publications. We’re looking forward to more of the same from the talented team on the French side from now ‘til the end of the semester!