September 29, 2009

PAREA and IT: giving you the means…*

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

This text was written in collaboration with Isabelle Laplante, coordinator at the CDC (Centre de documentation collégiale), and Mathieu Maltais, research officer at MELS (ministère de l’Éducation, du Loisir et du Sport).

In a context of ‘self-paced’ distance education, how is social software being used and what are its impacts? To answer this and a host of other questions, a multidisciplinary team has been conducting experiments since last year within courses offered by Cégep@distance1. In what ways do students use text correction software and virtual reference tools? What effects do text correction software programs and reference tools have on the quality of their writing? What is the potential of these tools and software as a means of providing reflective feedback on learning? A team at Collège Jean-de-Brébeuf is currently attempting to answer these questions in order to identify avenues for intervention and support2. Do students make better learning progress with teaching methods involving sociotechnology or with those involving traditional teaching? Researchers from Dawson, John-Abbott and Vanier colleges are currently part of a team which, last year, undertook a project aimed at answering this question3. Though the questions asked about these projects may differ from each other, the projects do have one thing in common…

What the research projects Logiciels sociaux, collaboration et persévérance en FAD, Outils virtuels et qualité de la langue and Scaling-up Socio-Technological Pedagogies have in common is that they are funded by the Programme d’aide à la recherche sur l’enseignement et l’apprentissage (PAREA). Year in, year out, the Québec Ministère de l’Éducation, du Loisir et du Sport (MELS) provides financial support to projects under PAREA; some of these projects deal with the integration of IT into college-level teaching. Would you like to consult science outreach reports or articles published after completion of projects funded this way? The collection housed at the College Documentation Centre (CDC) includes all of them, without exception. Would you like to obtain information on PAREA? Every year, l’Association pour la recherche au collégial (ARC) organizes several information sessions on PAREA. In addition, this fall, in collaboration with ARC, the Association pour les applications pédagogiques de l’ordinateur au postsecondaire (APOP) is organizing a virtual brown-bag lunch on research on the integration of IT into college-level teaching. Note that the deadline for submitting an application for 2010-2011 is February 19, 2010! Take advantage of the resources placed at your disposal right now.

Since its creation, the college network has been so active in conducting research on the integration of IT into teaching that ARC was able to carry out metaresearch projects on the subject (Barbeau, 2007; Barrette, 2004200520072008). As a result, more and more is known about the technical, organizational and pedagogical requirements that must be established in order for the integration of IT into teaching/learning to have positive impacts on educational achievement. That being the case, we are still definitely far from knowing all there is to know. That is why PAREA, which can release teachers from their duties so that they may study issues in great detail, remains as relevant as ever. If you have a project in mind, if your questions are not being answered, or if you would like to form a team to study a specific subject, why not try your hand at increasing this stock of knowledge? Do you have a project in mind, are your questions are not being answered, or would you like to form a team to study a specific subject? Why not send in your comments below…

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