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Published November 10, 2008

Is Research in the Integration of IT into College Education at an End?

The deadline for PAREA grants (programme d'aide à la recherche sur l'enseignement et l'apprentissage) is February 13, 2009. For the twenty-second consecutive year, MELS (ministère de l'Éducation, du Loisir et du Sport) is soliciting applications from teachers and professionals in the college network to do research in the field of teaching, the acquisition of knowledge, the academic environment or information technology (IT) in education. There currently is little interest in this last category on the part of researchers asking PAREA for funding. The reason for this is not financial given that PAREA is one of the most generous of funding programs available for college researchers providing up to 60% release time and funding consultants in methodology as well as specialists in the field under study. Furthermore, team projects are admissible and the length of the project can be as long as three years.

There currently is little interest in this last category on the part of researchers asking PAREA for funding.

Although the grant program requires that each project accepted for funding must produce direct benefits for the college network, the quantity of subjects to research is vast. In the category of Program-oriented Research, specific themes have been earmarked as priorities by MELS and presented with specific and explicit frames of reference.

Is the need for further research in this field at an end?

The themes prioritized within this category were selected because of their importance and the paucity of existing information available. An example is the changing nature of the college network's student body. In 2008, IT integration in college instruction was dropped as a priority, as it was felt that the phenomenon had reached a point where there were few if any themes that would directly impact college pedagogy. It was felt that eliminating the requirement for subjects to be IT-specific would actually produce more IT-related funding requests to MELS drawn from a much wider variety of related subjects. In 2008, this has not proven to be the case, as the number of PAREA applications in this category has not risen from the low numbers received in recent years. Is the need for further research in this field at an end? Have researchers lost interest in this subject?

Have researchers lost interest in this subject?

Ongoing revision to the program may provide some answers to these questions, but in order to do so researchers must either submit their research projects in this field or communicate their needs to MELS if the current program cannot meet them. The small number of applications gives the impression that the need for further knowledge in IT is not great and doesn't justify new measures or the improvement of existing ones.

There is still time remaining to prepare a funding request from PAREA. ARC (L'Association pour la recherche collégiale) offers support for this activity to its members. It will pair them with someone in a related field who has already gone through the process.

Are there researchers in the college network still interested in exploring the integration of IT in education?

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