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Published January 25, 2010

A Treasure Chest of Teachers' Tools - Web 2.0

Raymond Cantin, a resource person at PERFORMA (it has customized courses to reflect the needs of teachers and fostered a network of professors whose work contributes to the excellence of college teaching)is currently teaching an elective course exploring the Web 2.0 and its pedagogical potential. This activity is part of the course sequence for the Master Teacher Program for college teachers during the Winter 2010 semester. We met with him to learn more about the course. This text was adapted from an interview with Raymond Cantin in French in ENREVUES, an information document published by PERFORMA in November 2009.

Raymond Cantin

Raymond, you're giving a course called "The Web 2.0 and its pedagogical potential". What are the objectives of this course?

The objectives of the course are to give teachers the know-how needed to integrate Information and Communication Technology into their teaching and to transfer this information into the learning activities of their students. My course explains how these new tools work and gives examples of how they are used in a pedagogical context. Teachers choose a tool as well as a pedagogical strategy to create a class project. The participation and exchanges that result are extremely interesting and stimulating, and the resulting climate of mutual aid nurtures a very constructive learning environment.

In your opinion, how can ICT help teachers to make their teaching more dynamic?

Students from Generation C (for create, communicate and collaborate) are at ease using the Web and its new tools such as wikis, blogs, podcasts and research functions. They can be very creative in a learning strategy that includes technology, but students need teachers to guide them in this learning process and to support them in the development of their critical faculties in relation to the Web in general. In adding activities that allow students to be more active and creative in their learning, teachers distance themselves from the traditional lecture-based pedagogical model. They become a facilitator and guide in the students' active learning. My course initiates teachers into the use of these new tools and shows them how to integrate ICT into their own pedagogical activities.

Is it possible to give concrete examples of pedagogical projects that were developed as a result of your course?

Of course, here are a few:

  • A physical education teacher created a community of practice in the form of an interactive site with contributions from the cegep's sports and health professionals, students and the regional population at large.
  • Another teacher developed a wiki to promote exchanges between seasoned teachers near retirement and the newly arrived teachers who were replacing them.
  • A website allowing students to submit work on line was developed by a Computer Science teacher.
  • An educational blog encouraging student composition, editing and reflection was the product of another teacher.
  • Yet another member of my Performa course integrated podcasts into cultural visits with her students, creating rich learning possibilities promoting participation, creation and collaboration.

The teachers in my Web 2.0 course have told me that they have gained an appreciation of the importance of the concepts of participation, interaction and collaboration within learning which are at the core of Web 2.0.

They have also discovered that ICT is a virtual treasure chest of tools to improve learning strategies. They appreciated the fact that I apply the principles of exchange and collaboration in my own course so that they can experience firsthand the reality of what I am proposing that they incorporate into their own teaching. Finally, understanding the Web 2.0's operation and the analysis of examples of academic sites has also promoted better ICT integration into teaching.

Technology exists to ease the task of the teacher and not to complicate it.

What would you say to teachers who hesitate about using ICT because they believe that this will leave them too dependent on technology?

Technology exists to ease the task of the teacher and not to complicate it. The teacher selects and will always select the pedagogical strategy and the appropriate technology to attain the learning objectives of the course.

My task as a teacher of technology is one of popularization and facilitation. I teach teachers interested in ICT that they remain in control of their learning objectives when they use technology. My course targets those who want to develop teaching strategies where ITC becomes a positive tool that promotes learning. At the end of the Web 2.0 and its pedagogical potential course, the teacher will be able to use ICT within a dynamic, well-structured, considered and active framework that stimulates active reflection on the part of learners as it promotes the acquisition of the objectives of the discipline and the course content.

Thanks Ray for agreeing to this interview!

Perhaps Profweb's readers would like to relate their own experiences and hesitations about Web 2.0 in the Comments feature!

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