IT: an eSSENTIAL Tool for Teaching and Learning Today
Is e-learning dead? That is the very provocative question asked by Khalid Guedari in a text posted on October 21, 2008. He notes that e-learning, and we could add IT in general, is aggressively promoted by corporations for financial gain. He adds that having limited IT tools is not in itself a major problem as long as a teacher or a tutor is actively involved in the organization and the delivery of learning activities.
What is important to note is that IT is fundamentally a set of tools within the context of a pedagogical enterprise. Therefore, one must determine teaching and learning objectives before making a decision about the best means for reaching them. Once the objectives are set, the best IT tools will naturally find their way to the center of the stage.
This principle was used in two pedagogical projects with which I am presently involved. In both cases, next to no mention of IT is actually made. This can seem somewhat odd, especially since I am an IT representative.
Seeing IT as an automatic solution to complex problems or as an end-in-itself can have a detrimental effect on education.
Champlain - St. Lawrence Pedagogical Induction Program
A Pedagogical Induction Program is presently offered at Champlain - St. Lawrence. It focuses on basic pedagogical issues related to course planning, learning processes, class management and the evaluation of learning. The program approach is introduced throughout the four meetings offered during the school year.
This Induction Program benefited from Ivan Simoneau's input on the concepts of pedagogical content knowledge and the student as a cognitive apprentice. The program was also greatly influenced by some of the material developed for the Turnkey Pedagogical Day that will be offered jointly by PERFORMA, the AQPC and the Carrefour de la réussite to anglophone colleges in Winter 2009.
Carrefour de la réussite logo
Winning Strategies in the Classroom
The theme of the Turnkey Pedagogical Day is "Winning Strategies in the Classroom." This activity aims at exploring the best strategies for optimizing in-class learning and includes short presentations and supervised work involving scenarios, role-playing activities and discussions in sub-groups.
It was developed by myself and Marie-Claude Allard (Education Advisor at Collège Bois-de-Boulogne), Francine Lalonde (PERFORMA resource-person), Marie Ménard (Education Advisor, Collège Montmorency) and Lise St-Pierre (Professor, Université de Sherbrooke, PERFORMA).
The pedagogical day examines the challenges of teaching and learning in the context of changes currently taking place in colleges. Participants reflect on characteristics of Gen Y and on student involvement and motivation with regard to their learning. They also experiment with strategies and techniques that maximize learning.
One of the objectives is to develop an intervention strategy targeting in-class learning. Participants complete an intervention plan booklet throughout the day and work with colleagues in developing a concrete plan for the classroom. This plan can of course involve IT.
Learning and Technopedagogy
The Pedagogical Induction Program at Champlain - St. Lawrence and the Turnkey Pedagogical Day implicitly call for the use of IT in CEGEPs. Both discuss the fact that IT is a defining characteristic of our students' cultural experience in the realms of communication, learning and creativity. They also take into account the education reform presently underway in high schools which encourages collaborative work and group projects. IT is of course ideal for organizing this type of activity.
Seeing IT as an automatic solution to complex problems or as an end-in-itself can have a detrimental effect on education. This can be avoided by asking a simple question: What is the added benefit of using a particular IT tool in or outside of the classroom? An incisive answer to this question will help ensure that IT remains a valuable tool for teaching and learning today.
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