Presenting Nathalie Bastien: The IT Representatives Network’s New Coordinator
The Quebec college network received a highly anticipated bit of news at the start of the Fall 2019 semester. After months of speculation on potential candidates, the network finally learned who would replace Nicole Perreault as the community leader of the IT Representatives Network (IT-REP/REPTIC) following her retirement last summer.
The nomination notice revealed that the person selected for the mandate was none other than Nathalie Bastien, former IT-REP and Pedagogical counsellor with more than a decade of experience accompanying teachers. I had the opportunity to interview Nathalie in October 2019 and to ask a few questions about her new mandate and plans for the future.
Q. Can you introduce yourself?
NB: I began teaching Art History in the college network where I taught for about 5 years. It’s during this period that I developed a reputation as a teacher that rapidly integrated technology into my teaching. Next, I worked as a Pedagogical Counsellor (PC) at Cégep André-Laurendeau from 2007 to 2011, which was my first experience as an IT Representative responsible for the integration of information and communication technologies (ITREP). After taking parental leave, I worked as an Instructional Designer at Cégep à distance, which is affiliated with the Collège de Rosemont. A while later, I realized that I missed accompanying teachers and working on programs, so I accepted a mandate as a Pedagogical Counsellor in the Academic Dean’s office at the Collège de Rosemont.
After a few years, another opportunity presented itself at the Collège André-Grasset and I worked there for 2 and a half years. That was the role I was working in just prior to starting my new mandate at the Fédération des cégeps.
Q. What is the role of the Fédération des cégeps and the community leader of the IT-REPs/REPTIC?
NB: The IT Representatives Network is part of the Direction des affaires éducatives at the Fédération des cégeps and is part of the CAP (Commission des affaires pédagogiques), which is composed of the Academic Deans from the CEGEPs.
Incidentally, the majority of ICT Pedagogical Counsellors report to the Academic Dean or an Associate Dean. The integration of digital technology is an objective that is shared by all of the colleges, so we have every interest in working on projects and creating productions together. If a Ped Counsellor is experimenting with Virtual Reality in one college, chances are that there is another of their peers that has the same objective and that they are having the same reflections.
Digital technology is a natural topic for a community of practice since even the tools that we use to collaborate at a distance with colleagues across Quebec are digital ones. The IT-REPs from public and private colleges hold in-person meetings twice per year, once in Quebec City and once in Montreal. Between these meetings there are several virtual meetings held by our working groups where we develop tools collectively.
The IT-REPs and REPTIC participated in a simulation on using the Guide CAAP at the April 2019 IT-REPs/REPTIC meeting. (Image courtesy of the IT Representatives Network)
Q. How can the administrators of our establishments maximize the potential impact of their IT-REP?
NB: One of the explicit measures of the Digital action plan (DAP) is to maximize the role of people supporting the integration of digital technology. Making sure that at least on full-time IT-REP is on staff is an excellent means of making this happen.
I think that is important to allow the ICT Ped Counsellors to work on interdisciplinary initiatives with the IT department, the Academic Dean’s office, the library, etc. If we allow them to work at multiple levels, not only on teaching and learning, it is possible to have an impact on all the services offered by the college.
Q. What message would you like to convey to teachers with regards to the IT-REPs in their college?
NB: Your IT-REP is your friend! Whether digital technology is a source of stress, enthusiasm, exasperation or indifference for you, your IT-REP is ready to listen and work with you to meet you where you are at!
Our default mode of operation as a teacher is often to work in isolation, alone with the student. I was no different when I was teaching. Nevertheless, when resources are available, it’s so much more interesting to work together as a network within an ecosystem. The interactions between several people to support the base is the fundamental nature of the college network.
In my projects at the Fédération, I also want to work in an interdisciplinary way. For instance, I have the goal of working with the community leader of the RIIPSO network on Internet addiction and with the REBICQ network community leader on academic integrity and plagiarism.
Q. In your opinion, are there one or two techno-pedagogical approaches that teachers should be exploring?
NB: I wouldn’t place any emphasis on a tool - rather I would look at pedagogical alignment. Is the ultimate goal to achieve the course competency with the help of a tool, or is the objective to augment your teaching with the use of technology? To go faster, to have a better approach or go deeper with the learning? I prefer to avoid engaging in proselytism, especially when it involves promoting some of the products of the multinational Internet giants!
Q. Over the course of your career, what are some of the principal lessons you have learned with regards to accompanying teachers?
NB: The relationship with teachers starts with empathy, beyond what expert knowledge that a Ped Counsellor might have or underlying approaches to accompanying teachers towards innovation. For me, teachers first need to be heard before embarking upon or continuing their shift to digital approaches.
The Digital Action Plan for Education and Higher Education outlines sums available for the development of activities related to digital technology and provides a high degree of visibility for the IT-REPs.
Q. What is the role of the IT-REPs community leader with regards to the implementation of the Digital Action Plan ?
NB: Part of my role is to disseminate information about the DAP and the opportunities it provides. I can also take part in brainstorming for projects that can be deployed thanks to support from the DAP.
During a meeting of the IT Representatives Network that will be held in November 2019, we will be running a brainstorming workshop on potential DAP projects.
There is also a more “macro-level” role that consists of lobbying to increase the links between the IT-REPs and different segments of the college. It is important to increase their visibility and promote the role of IT-REPs within the various parts of the administration and amongst the members of the college staff.
Q. What are the main goals of the IT Representatives Network in the next 3 years?
NB: Certain initiatives are recurrent year after year. ICT and Student Success and the Guide CAAP to help Ped Counsellors accompany teachers during the creation of a digital activity are some examples of these ongoing projects [Editor’s note: The Guide CAAP is only available in French at the moment].
But to be honest, it is the IT-REPs in the field that have the final say in prioritizing the files that I work on. It’s not me who decides what is important: The IT-REPs decide what is important to them. Our work reflects their reality and their interaction with teachers.
Q. What are some of the opportunities and challenges that you see during the same period?
NB: As far as opportunities, there is the DAP which will increase the focus on digital initiatives while helping the IT-REPs to maintain a high profile. It is truly current and topical!
As for challenges, I would say the following: To communicate our message well and to ensure adequate change management. People should be accompanied toward change rather than being subjected to it.
Towards the end of our interview, I was convinced that Nathalie’s dynamic personality and desire to work collaboratively with the network will surely help her to succeed over the course of her new mandate. Her enthusiasm and team spirit will be effective implements in her professional toolbox!
She reminded me that the motto of the IT-REP/REPTIC network has always been “1 + 1 = 3”. It is Nathalie’s profound conviction that together we can go further. For her, our collective goal is the success of our students, and it is our shared duty to support them towards this end.
Bon succès, Nathalie in your new role!