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Integrating the ICT Profile in a Program

Academic environments are directly involved in helping students face the reality of a digital society. With this in mind, we see that in every college, teachers are already preparing classroom activities that support the development of ICT Profile skills. That being said, an integrated program approach around a frame of reference such as the ICT Profile for College Students allows further development by promoting a planned and successful integration of ICT and by developing progressive and coherent ICT skills with the implementation of appropriate pedagogical and organizational conditions.

There is no better time for the integration of ICT in a program of study than when it is being developed or reorganized. For example, the steps for integrating the ICT Profile are perfect when implementing a new program or when an existing program is evaluated or revised. These opportune moments should be seriously considered. Other occasions can also be taken advantage of: general reflection on the program, revision of the master plan, implementation of an on-line program or of an enterprise training project, etc.

In order to support the integration of the ICT Profile, the IT REP Network has put online a guide (Aubin, 2009) and several resources to help the main actors in the college network. The guide proposes an approach that is consistent with the steps for implementing, evaluating and revising a program. As there are no unique formulas, colleges are invited to coordinate the integration of the ICT Profile with their own program management process. Available in the “Integrating the ICT Profile” section of the IT REP Network site (as is the guide), are the different resources including slide shows that share the integration work done at Cégep de Granby (Dupont, 2011) and at Cégep de Victoriaville (Boissonneault, Garneau-Angers and Ouellette, 2011).

Let’s now see how to integrate the ICT Profile into a program of study. The approach presented here shows the steps and methods that were observed in a few colleges: the methods used for the integration of the ICT Profile in programs of study are varied and each institution is free to use the one that best suits their needs. Observing the approach that colleges have used nevertheless show some winning directions, such as:

  • start from existing activities done by teachers as well as with the technology literacy of the teachers in the program;
  • lean on the existing ICT skills in the program of study and on the natural links possible between ICT and the nature of the course skills;
  • promote a project-based approach;
  • adopt an approach based on collaboration: between teachers with students, and with resource persons and the college administration.

The article “Integrating ICT Profile for College Students Skills in a Course or in a Program of Study”, published in Pédagogie collégiale, presents details on this approach, by showing, for example, tools that can be used for specific steps and by linking the ICT Profile Skills with examples of skills from programs of study.

STEP 1 - Analyzing the Context for Using ICT Specific to the Program

Before starting a project, it is useful to take a close look at the current role played by ICT in the program to which we want to associate the ICT Profile. To do so, one of the first steps is to survey all activities using ICT in each course in the program. Using a simple table, teachers are asked to associate pedagogical activities carried out by their students using technology with activities that correspond to skills from the ICT Profile. One can then transfer this information in a “skill to course” table with links, for every course in a program, to the activities requiring ICT skills and with the corresponding ICT Profile skills. This table will be very useful when the time comes to determine which skills from the ICT Profile will be integrated in the program (see step 3), among other things, to remove those that are not yet tackled.

By taking a global look at what is being done, one can identify both the shortcomings and the strengths. During this exercise, teachers can see for themselves that they already undertake a number of pedagogical activities that are supported by ICT and, by doing so, they contribute to the development of skills from the ICT Profile.

At this stage, some colleges undertake additional processes to collect information from teachers, students, graduates, employers and other major actors in the market. By doing so, they try to identify the requirements for the labour market and post-collegial studies in terms of mastering informational and technological skills. In the same objective, they also want to prepare an up-to-date overview of their programs and of practices linked with ICT.

STEP 2 - Placing ICT in the Program

This step consists in identifying the potential use of technology by looking at the characteristics of the program of study (general goals, objectives and standards, etc.) and by leaning on the ICT elements that are already there. Following that, possible links will be established between ICT Profile skills and those related to the program. This exercise is a great opportunity to look at the program with new glasses.

Some of the ministerial specifications include prescriptions that can be clearly linked to the use of ICT, whether in terms of the goals of each program or their objectives and standards. It is incidentally possible, by looking at these documents with a fresh look, to identify situations where the nature or element of a skill, or a performance criterion suggests pertinent usage of ICT.

The content and structure of the ICT Profile allows to easily associate skills to be developed, either in a general education course or for specific training, to skills and objectives, whether in a technical or preuniversity program. Various programs in the college network clearly invite students to look for information, to process and share it. Several elements of general education are also linked with the mastering of methodological, cognitive or technological skills.

STEP 3 - Applying the ICT Profile for Students to a Program

Following an analysis of the current usage of ICT and their association with program’s characteristics, comes the time to progressively and coherently develop ICT Profile skills. To achieve this, ICT skills need to be associated more formally with learning activities and evaluations directly linked to the development of skills for the program. This can be done through a dedicated course or as part of a project approach.

It is important, at this stage and throughout their progression, to make sure that students are encouraged to use, in different contexts, tools and resources available to them that are specific to ICT. We also have to take into account the fact that they will develop their own learning strategies, autonomy and efficiency and demonstrate in-depth learning. As this preparation is quite similar to the methods already in place for achieving the other objectives of the program, all that is needed is to reproduce the consultation and pedagogical planning method by contextualizing it to the integration of ICT.

To ease the administration of the level of responsibilities associated with teaching skills from the ICT Profile, we suggest using a skill/course grid. This will help to determine in which course a given skill will be specifically taught, in which course the evaluation will be formative and, finally, in which course this skill will have a summative evaluation. Using a skill/course grid helps to better plan the progressive and coherent evolution of the learning process as they are spread out over several semesters. Skills from the ICT Profile can be integrated into the course outlines and associated with different competencies, either for a specific learning activity, by means of contributory disciplines or in general education, in conformity with the program approach.

Consult the “Philosophy of the ICT Profile” section for information that can guide you in a concerted team-program approach.

STEP 4 - Planning the Integration of the ICT Profile and Taking Action

Once the development of the ICT Profile in a program is completed, the planning of its implementation can begin. At the end of the process, the evaluation of the achievement and implementation measures by the program provides an opportunity for corrections to be put in place for future cohorts.

An action plan and a schedule can be very useful tools at this stage. During the implementation of the ICT Profile in courses, teachers can adapt their pedagogical strategies and activities depending on the objectives previously set. When planning the integration of the ICT Profile in programs of study, one must look at the future and keep in mind what will be required for its implementation: proper training for teachers, human resources (pedagogical counsellors, librarians, and technical support), classrooms/labs, software, equipment, etc.

Generally, it is safe to assume that the vast majority of colleges already have the necessary resources, infrastructure and equipment. Furthermore, the availability of products and services in education has undergone reorganization in the last few years: free software is more present in colleges; free applications are more available and of better quality; and colleges have access to platforms that can better suit their needs. As for professional development, the college network has developed an expertise in techno pedagogy which has since become very accessible. Consult the “Structure and Content of the ICT Profile Space” and “Recommended Websites” sections to learn more on available resources and services offered in the network.

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