A Space to Foster the Development of Innovative Pedagogical Practices — A LaSalle College Project Funded under the Digital Action Plan
This article is a translation of a text first published in the French edition of Profweb.
In the context of the Digital Action Plan for Education and Higher Education (DAP), the MEES (ministère de l'Éducation et de l'Enseignement supérieur) issued a call for proposals for projects on the innovative use of digital technology in higher education. LaSalle College saw both of its projects funded:
- To provide teachers with a space that would help foster the development of innovative pedagogical practices. This is the project that I will talk about here.
- To set up a dedicated room for hybrid courses. This project is the object of another article.
The group at the origin of the innovative educational space project
At LaSalle College, the GRIP (Groupe de recherche en innovation pédagogique) [in French] supports pedagogical experimentation by teachers.
The GRIP oversees 2 communities of practice:
- An active learning community of practice
- An inclusive pedagogy community of practice
The GRIP also welcomes teachers who want to solve a real class issue (a concern or a pedagogical dissatisfaction). The research and innovation initiative that results are conducted by adopting the SoTL stance (Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, a research and innovation approach).
The SoTL mindset was presented in an article in the Pédagogie collégiale magazine
written by Angela Mastracci and Angie Stevens.
In its SoTL mindset [in French], the GRIP emphasizes peer-to-peer counselling: a teacher with experience in pedagogical innovation (dubbed “positive leaders in pedagogical innovation” by LaSalle College) mentors a teacher who undertakes a research and innovation process. (Teachers can also work on their own if they prefer!)
With SoLT in mind, the GRIP organizes laboratories. A GRIP member, a teacher who wants to try a pedagogical practice, initiates each laboratory. All of the teachers who are interested in the topic are invited to come and talk with the teacher/initiator.
Then, the initiator conducts the experiment in class (observers are welcome!). To complete the teaching experiment, the teacher-experimenter must determine a way of analysing the impact: the teacher can gather data using questionnaires or forming discussion groups, for instance. The results are shared with the teachers who participated in the laboratory (and can also be shared outside the GRIP!).
Among the topics presented at GRIP laboratories during the 2019 winter session are:
- Digital badges issued to the students of the Hotel Management program as an indicator of the values and behaviours required by the industry
- The use of free software (such as GeoGebra) during math exams
The GRIP launched the project of setting up a space funded by the DAP: the GRIP needed a room well adapted to its needs. Mathieu Lépine, Assistant Academic Dean at LaSalle College, explained that the college wanted GRIP activities to be held in a more casual room than the faculty lounge.
The furnished room
A small conference room was converted into a genuine laboratory for innovation. There is:
- An interactive whiteboard (interactive multifunction projector)
- 2 Oculus Go virtual reality headsets
- A creativity wall that includes a cork bulletin board and a writable wall, useful for conceptualizing projects
The interactive whiteboard can be used by teachers who do not know how to work the whiteboard and do not want to attempt using it when their classroom is full of students. It must be noted that the occupancy rate of classrooms is very high at LaSalle College, thus it’s difficult for a teacher to find a classroom to test equipment outside of teaching hours… In the innovation laboratory teachers can test the equipment on their own or receive training by making an appointment with Raquel Thomas Pellicer, Coordinator for Pedagogical Support, or Julie Hébert, Teacher in Charge of the GRIP.
The same goes for the OculusGo headsets: teachers will be able to learn to use them as they see fit. The aim is to encourage teachers to experiment with virtual reality in order to discover the possible pedagogical uses of the technology.
And it works?
When I spoke with Mathieu Lépine, Assistant Academic Dean, and Raquel Tomas Pellicer, Coordinator for Pedagogical Support, the room had just been finished. The teacher in charge of the room, Julie Hébert, had just seen it for the first time. Charles Laporte and Heather Sorella, 2 of the leaders in innovations and trends as well as members of the GRIP, had just completed a presentation to the entire faculty. They spoke about the GRIP laboratories they had lead in the previous session and they encouraged people to attend laboratories in the new room. This presentation aroused the interest of a few teachers who will be launching projects with support from the GRIP.
Mathieu Lépine et Raquel Tomas Pellicer naturally hope teacher participation will be high. Towards the end of the session they plan to survey the teachers who participated in order to assess the impact of the project on their sense of belonging to the college as well as their sense of professional self-efficacy. Profweb will follow up and inform you of the results!
I would like to thank Mathieu Lépine, Assistant Academic Dean, and Raquel Tomas Pellicer, Coordinator for Pedagogical Support, for taking the time to speak with me and for their excellent collaboration in writing this article!