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Published November 13, 2019 | Multidisciplinary

The Increasing Use of Technology in High School Classrooms May Heighten Student Expectations at the College Level

What do college teachers know about the use of technology in the high school classroom? Gen Z learners may have new expectations of their digital experience at college. Will there be a disappointing gap between these digitally proficient high school students and the reality of the college classroom?

For this article, I met with Marc Dallaire, Director General of College François de Laval for an in depth look at how one high school committed to embracing digital learning.

At first

In 2007-08 the Collège François de Laval set up whiteboards in a few of the classrooms. Marc Dallaire believes that the use of whiteboards for pedagogical purposes spread rapidly throughout the school after the direction mandated a few enthusiastic teachers to share their experience during PED days. The enthusiasm of a few teachers piqued the interest of others and rapidly the school equipped all of the classrooms with interactive whiteboards.

Marc Dallaire understands that the whiteboard doesn’t necessarily change the way people teach, but it can! Once the teacher realises that the board becomes the extension of the computer everything on the web becomes easily accessible. Maps, videos, digital tools of all kinds can easily be presented to the students. Thus, the integration of interactive whiteboards did in fact encourage teachers to vary their teaching strategies.

A little later

A few years later, the Collège François-de-Laval took the next step and integrated the cloud and the Google for Education platform to their teaching tools, requiring all of their students to have a laptop. Because the cloud is being used, parents don’t need to purchase a new computer, Marc mentions. The students can use an older model to log onto Google. Another advantage is that students can log onto their class documents from a computer at home or at a classmate’s. Once again teachers were quickly onboard. Math teachers created their own website, with videos and remedial capsules. Science teachers were also proactive. Teaching strategies were more and more varied.

Active learning space provides an inspiring environment for students to deepen their knowedge in science and technology. Source: Site web College François-de-Laval

When the high school decided to go online, the teachers and the administration wondered about the issues surrounding the use of social media. They came to the conclusion that, rather than ban social media, it is better to teach students how to use it appropriately. They produced a handbook for the students and their parents containing tips on the safe and responsible use of Facebook and other social media [in French]. Every year secondary-1 students receive an updated copy containing the most recent practices and participate in a cyber safety session given by local police.

A major innovation

In 2012, with a generous donation from a corporate sponsor, the school began work on a multimedia production center complete with filming and editing studios. The technology could definitely be used in pedagogy.

Several teachers immediately saw the potential. Instead of giving a traditional secondary-3 history class, one history teacher partnered with a museum and had the students create a series of video capsules. The students researched a historical figure, and then using period costumes, they recorded an interview with one student playing the role of that historical figure. The class made several quality videos that the museum is now able to play on small screens throughout the site.

Student learning to create videos.

Advertising is a theme in the secondary-4 French curriculum. A teacher incorporated the theme of bullying and asked students to create television commercials, made by young people - for young people, to denounce bullying. Rather than students giving an oral presentation, one after the other, in front of the class they participated in a creative active learning project. The following year, United Way-Centraide approached the same teacher. The students visited the non-profit organisation’s offices and learned about the local community programs it supports. Then students were required to design web advertising to promote those various programs. The best assignments were actually posted either on Centraide’s or its agencies’ websites. For the students this was a way of volunteering or doing community service and for the teacher a different pedagogical strategy to cover the curriculum of secondary-4 French.

The multimedia production center has become a way for teachers to vary pedagogical strategies and to teach students how to use social media in a positive way.

Using social media to create a sense of belonging

The “social media incubator” was created in the fall of 2019 to provide students with an opportunity to share their reality and to talk about their school. The main objective is to maintain the Collège François-de-Laval’s social media pages so as to help future students learn about the school and get a feel of the environment. However, the underlying objective is to find out what the current students are interested in and what their world revolves around in order to better engage them and develop a sense of belonging to the school.

The social media incubator up and running!

The students learn to use the technology available to create videos that they post to social media. Very few constraints are placed on the productions, of course there is an adult who supervises the process and approves the final version before it is posted. By nurturing the positive aspects of YouTube, Facebook and others, the College allows students to shine and shows them how social media can be used to create a positive digital footprint.

Ready for Gen-Z students?

Several high schools, and not only the one mentioned in this article, have chosen to integrate digital skills in classes, programs and extracurricular activities. From schools that integrate information and communication technology (ICT) in all classes to programs such as “Science-Languages and ICTs”, to mobile iPad labs and participation in robotics competitions, there are numerous possibilities for high school students.

As you can see several of these initiatives integrate skills for researching, processing and presenting information that are preparing students for the outcomes of the college level ICT Profile Skills. To meet the needs of this new generation of learners, for whom technology and social media are a part of their innermost nature, many colleges have already integrated digital learning strategies. Here are some inspiring stories from our Profweb library:

Encadré gris

Acknowledgments

I would like to thank Marc Dallaire, Director General of College François-de-Laval for taking the time to meet with me for this article.

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