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Published November 16, 2008

DECclic: Beyond the Virtual Classroom

DECclic is a platform used extensively in francophone Quebec colleges to support learning outside of the classroom. With DECclic, teachers from various disciplines provide their students with virtual classrooms containing:

  • Web pages
  • Discussion groups and chat rooms
  • Course handouts
  • Links to Internet sites
  • Weekly schedules
  • Online tests
  • An integrated messaging system

And so much more! ESL teachers have the opportunity to use this resource which has a complete English interface even though it is not widely available in the anglophone network. Your Rep_TIC is a valuable first resource for technical support, and Brent Reid, who tells of his experiences below, is available to provide information to English users. As most francophone colleges are members of the DECclic system, ESL teachers in those schools are uniquely positioned to benefit from DECclic's rich learning environment, with its extensive technical support, at no additional cost.

Over the last couple of years, I have seen my job as an English Second Language (ESL) teacher "morph" from full-time teaching to no-time teaching! (No, I am not retired; I am currently a department coordinator and language help centre supervisor at Bois-de-Boulogne College as well as a coordinator for DECclic.) Now while being a teacher without a classroom has at times been challenging, this ironic state of affairs has in no way restricted my usage of DECclic as I now use the platform to help coordinate department activities and run a virtual help centre at my college.

The Virtual Department

When I started coordinating department activities four years back, I became aware of the need to archive important department documents securely in such a way as to make them easily and universally accessible to all department members As a result, all department documents were uploaded to DECclic, a password-protected platform in which users' rights can be modified (or removed!) as desired. Since then, department members have been able to access course plans, plans cadre, meeting agendas and minutes, budget requests, department rules, yearly work plans and yearly reports from any computer they wish-and this, 24/7! And as the number of features offered by DECclic expanded (especially in recent years), so too did the department's use of the platform:

  • Links to pertinent Internet resources (the union Website, the MELS website, the websites of various professional organizations, etc.) were added;
  • Discussion groups to facilitate pedagogical discussions were set up; and
  • A schedule to remind teachers of important dates (pedagogical days, meeting dates, administrative deadlines, etc.) was established.

Table of Contents for The Virtual Department.

The Virtual Help Centre

With a view to promoting student success, the language department at Bois-de-Boulogne College established the Centre d’aide en langues modernes (CALM) in 2005. In the CALM, students can improve their English listening and speaking skills by working with a language monitor or upgrade their English reading and writing skills by working with a peer tutor. To support these onsite activities, a virtual help centre was established on DECclic the following year to provide monitors, tutors and students alike with self-grading online grammar exercises, conversation activities and online tutorials.

An example of an ESL exercise.

Should you wish to obtain more information on using DECclic for virtual departments, virtual help centres (and yes, even virtual classrooms!), feel free to contact me by:

Readers are invited to discuss their use of DECclic on the Reader Response Feature. If you are teaching ESL, have you tried DECclic for your courses?

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