February 6, 2007

Living with Technology!

This text was initially published by Profweb under a CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 International licence, before Eductive was launched.

Like a phantom presence, the uneasy feeling that technology in our teaching establishments is ‘bending education to its will’ percolates through the Quebec college network. Certain teachers have chosen to go paperless, giving no handouts at all to their students. Other teachers chaffe under administration mandated use of computer based platforms for grade registration. Handwritten student work is not always received gracefully. How many other examples can we find in our day to day existence of the relentless penetration of techno-culture into our schools?

As the pace of technological change quickens and therefore becomes less and less costly, it even insinuates itself into the backpacks of our students. As cellphones, DVD viewers (‘aka’ mobile technology) and portable computers become more and more a part of the classroom landscape, we are forced to make a pedagogical accommodation with them. Are these invaders to be integrated into pedagogical scenarios or simply tolerated as inescapable? According to a survey, a large proportion of students with cellphones feel that they should be able to keep them in class as long as they do not disturb others.

Recently, this accommodation has run up against a barrier. Bad reviews of teachers and even video clips of them filmed by cellphones are now on-line. A school, the victim of this practice, banned ‘any electronic communication device’ Is this the answer to this problem? Should any IT use not mentioned in the course plan be forbidden? Aren’t there risks even with scheduled IT use? One college student in two has already committed computer-assisted plagiarism. Won’t too great a negative reaction only serve to widen the generation gap5 that already exists?

We must carefully evaluate technology in terms of its usefulness to our teaching, to its added value to our everyday instruction, while promoting ethical use. This is how we in the educational establishment can rise to meet the challenge of this powerful transformation that is occurring around us.

Profweb in English this week has two major ‘openings’ to feature. As I am writing this, I don’t know which to make the subject of our banner. Youdan (Dai) Zhang of John Abbott College has asked me to remind readers that the website for this year’s IT Fair is up and running. This seems to be the more urgent of our ‘banner’ events.

Another milestone is the addition of the English version of Nicole Perreault’s excellent report on electronic plagiarism to our reports section. Check it out under the link Reports in the lefthand column. 

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