A Cognitive Approach to the 2014 IT Student Profile
The ICT Profile for College Students presents a collection of essential information and communication technology skills for students. Nicole Perreault, coordinator of the IT Representatives' Network, gives us a preview of the changes that have been made in the 2014 edition of this document.
We all know that our students must master information and technology skills, either to pursue their university studies or to enter the labour market. And yet, at the end of their college education, we find that many students have difficulties in this regard, whether researching and finding information, processing it or presenting it correctly.
ICT Profile for College Students
In 2009, the IT Reps made the ICT profile for college students available to the colleges, in order to foster the learning of these essential skills. The ICT profile is a framework that provides a set of skills for the research, processing and presentation of information. Since its inception, thirty colleges have undertaken the work of integrating the skills of the profile into their programs and courses.
The ideal time to integrate the IT Student Profile is during the development or evaluation of a program of study. It can also happen when a teacher decides to integrate it into the courses within their discipline. Whatever the context, teachers can count on the IT Representative of their college and other professionals such as the librarian or the pedagogical counsellor for their program. Teachers can also rely on a host of resources to provide help during each stage of the insertion of the Profile into the courses (for example: a grid linking skills to be acquired with the courses of the program, video capsules of skill tutorials for students, etc.)
Teachers who have integrated to IT Student Profile into their course greatly appreciated these resources. As I wrote in my last column, teachers realized that they were already asking their students to perform skills within the Profile such as research projects or producing concept maps.
In 2011-2012, the IT Reps Network conducted a census of practices related to the integration of the Profile into those programs and college courses where it had been applied. These results led to a major overhaul of the ICT Profile, and the final version is expected in spring 2014.
The 2009 version of the ICT Profile for College Students focused on the mastery of software skills. For example, the profile showed that mastering the use of a spreadsheet was required. However, in some programs of the college system, the use of a spreadsheet is not required within the program.
The 2014 version of the ICT Profile for College Students is organized quite differently.
A Flexible ICT Profile for All Programs Using a Cognitive Approach
In the 2014 version of the ICT Profile, software control skills are always present (they are essential) but now they are integrated into a process associated with the mastery of cognitive skills (eg, developing the structure of the information, integrating and organizing the content). The 2014 version of the ICT Profile is divided according to cognitive skills whose objectives and underlying tasks are supported by the software skills to be acquired.
The new approach of the 2014 ICT Student Profile has significant advantages.
It is a transversal profile "all programs, all colleges" which gives more flexibility to programs on the choice of software applications to use to master a skill.
Take for example Skill 2: Process information - Structure the information - Choose the type and appropriate tool of representation. The cognitive approach is similar whether one is studying Fine Arts, Natural Sciences or Social Service. However, as the nature of the information to be analyzed is often different from one program to another, the choice of software applications to use during the process may vary from one curriculum to another.
Skill 2: Process information - Structure information - Choose the type and appropriate tool of representation
It's the same for Skill 3: Present information -> Carry out the production -> Integrate the content elements into the production.
Skill 3: Present information -> Carry out the production -> Integrate the content elements into the production
The 2014 ICT Student Profile also has the advantage of remaining valid for whichever future software innovations emerge.
A Simplified Flexible Structure
As well, the 2014 ICT Profile includes a maximum of three levels of detail, reflecting the structure of Ministerial specifications for curriculum within the Quebec College Network:
- Skill = Competence
- Objective = Element of Competence
- Task = Criterion of Performance
This structure greatly simplifies the integration of the profile into the curriculum.
As well, the 2014 ICT Profile was conceived to spread the objectives of skill mastery across more than one course, just as it is possible to spread the mastery of an objective across several courses within a departmental program.
To Learn More
Resources will be made available to colleges and programs to support its integration into the curriculum. At the AQPC Symposium this June, there will be a workshop on the underlying approach to the redesign the 2014 ICT Student Profile, which will be given in French. We warmly invite you to participate if your French is up to the task.
Meanwhile, we invite you to share your comments on the relevance and usefulness of the approach which has led to the new ICT Profile whose final version is expected for spring 2014.