December 11, 2007

If research on the integration of IT into college-level teaching interests you…

The Association pour la recherche au collégial (ARC) is currently starting the third phase of its metasynthesis project to evaluate the impact of information technologies (IT) on college education. This will involve setting up an advisory committee. ARC started its first IT metaresearch project in 2003, reviewing some 20 years of college research in this area. This led to the second phase, in which a model was developed of the conditions for integrating IT into teaching practices in order to achieve a positive impact on student learning (Barrette, Christian. “Réussir l’intégration pédagogique des TIC : un guide d’action de plus en plus précis”, Clic, No. 63, January 2007, p. 11-16).

Despite the work done to date, the heuristic (reasoning that requires intuition, uses case studies and is based on empirical rules drawn from experimental results) model established by ARC is not without fault. Indeed, the founding corpus involved a total of only 32 studies in a period of 25 years, with a high degree of diversification in both the aims of the studies and the information technologies used. What is more, the reasoning that forms the basis for the model could result in poor decisions, since the initial condition and resources have become outdated.

For all these reasons, ARC is planning to update its model by comparing the existing model developed in Phase 2 with models formalized by experts based on their recent experiments. Do these experiments lead them to identify variables that are absent from the model developed in the ARC metasynthesis project? Do they reveal new correlations between the factors that determine whether IT used in an educational setting has a positive impact on the learning experience? The value of a heuristic model lies in its ability to guide decision-making. Thus, the third phase of the ARC metasynthesis project will also attempt to verify the usefulness of the model as a guide for action. Does the model facilitate the design of research projects? Does it facilitate identification of the variables to be controlled and the impacts to be observed or measured? This secondary purpose is in keeping with ARC objectives, namely to promote the training of researchers and to stimulate the creation and development of inter-collegiate research teams. This is why ARC wishes to form an advisory committee that brings together both emerging researchers, who have recently presented or will soon present IT integration projects, and experienced researchers who, with their extensive experiential knowledge, are mentors in the making.

Whether you think of yourself as an emerging or experienced researcher, please contact myself or Lynn Lapostolle, director general of ARC, if you are interested in participating in the new phase of the metasynthesis project on determining conditions for effective pedagogical integration of IT. We will be happy to answer any questions you may have about this project and how you could contribute. You can also use the Reader Response feature below.

Thanks to Lucille Nelson for translation and Susanne de Lotbinière-Harwood for copy editing!

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