Towards Well-Balanced Technology-Enhanced Learning Environments :

Preparing the Ground for Choices Ahead


Rechercher l'équilibre au sein des environnements d'apprentissage intégrant

les technologies de l'information et de la communication


Thérèse Laferrière, School of Education, Laval University &

TeleLearning Network of Centres of Excellence (TL-NCE)




In order to facilitate the discussion at the upcoming meeting of the Deputy Ministers of Education in Saskatoon, the CMEC Secretariat felt that the preparation of a paper dealing with the subject matter would be appropriate and I was assigned the task of preparing the present document. The Deputy Ministers are already well aware of the tremendous impact that information and communications technologies (ICTs) are having now or will undoubtedly continue to have in the field of education.

It should be emphasized that ICTs are above all considered as a means of enhancing the learning process for each individual and as a means for society as a whole, to participate fully in the new information era. Secondly, both the choice between blindly leaping ahead or waiting for more benefits to come could lead to disastrous consequences at all levels of education and of society. Thirdly, the decision to integrate ICTs (Internet connectivity, teacher education, and network development) constitutes a point of no return, one most likely to lead communities into a gradual but steady replacement of the sociotechnical infrastructure of their education systems.

The present document aims to present 1) an overview of the needs and possibilities created by the ICTs; 2) competing visions in the face of coming changes; 3) cost effectiveness in education: a crucial element resulting from the changes in the role of the players and use of the ICTs; and 4) suggestions for a CMEC strategy on information and communications technologies are annexed. Thus, contrary to providing an exhaustive view of the problems, questions and solutions, this document highlights important issues for CMEC's decision-making process regarding its strategy on information and communications technologies.



Use will be made of the facts, trends and learned statements which prevail in answering the following three questions. What is happening on the international scene with the arrival of ICTs into the education system? What evidence supports the learning paradigm? What are the potential long term goals?

1.1 What is happening on the international scene?

a) Information and communications technologies are moving in a quantum fashion.

Personal computers now have the capacity to process a huge quantity of texts, sounds, images, and videos. Moreover, learners can interact with PCs (and soon, NCs [Network Computers]) in increasing and more and more captivating ways. Computers, linked to other computers (Internet and Intranets), are already modifying work as it was done in the past by other technologies such as the copy machine and the fax. Communication through e-mail or discussion forums such as First Class are commonplace. In the last three years, the Internet has captured the imagination of more than fifty million people who are building cyberspace made up of components from an exponential number of resources. Search methodologies are being developed in order to facilitate access through on-line materials and proxies to monitor what gets into local area network (LAN). NetNanny and others are helping the care for the eyes and minds of our young people. The role of librarians is changing, as they are called upon in their daily work to make more higher-level of intervention. And now push technologies are geared up to solve the problems of those who prefer to be on the receiving end of a customized project rather than to have to deal themselves with the material coming out of the Web. showed up first, now there is a and more recently, The prevailing climate in the inner circles is not only the knowledge that the technology is there, but now, that the attention and energy should be directed at the information society through a revamped sociotechnical infrastructure.

b) Knowledge activities are on the rise.

With the world trade globalization concept prevailing, territories, provinces and countries cannot passively wait any longer for the development of their natural and social resources. Each entity must now count more than ever on its better informed human strength for the management of its natural resources and in the participation of a well-balanced economic growth. Education supported by its new information and communications technologies, will become the tool of choice to face the problems created by the expansion of trade and the various human needs of the nation. The Delors Report published by UNESCO's International Commission on Education underlines the need for students with a strong capacity for learning assisted by the new information and communications technologies. OECD recently stressed the importance of the large non-formal sector in which individuals are undergoing on-the-job training, and of knowledge networks as key in the distribution of knowledge among different actors and institutions.

c) Individuals' higher needs and the demands of the workplace are converging.

For many years, the development of the individual has been mainly the province of European philosophers and humanistically-oriented North American psychologists and educators. As technology develops and expands all over the world, it follows that the demand for individuals with higher-order thinking and technical skills will increase. But the task of managing a business or any organization today is much more complex than it was in the past. One must not only manage the manufacturing of a product but must do so with the full participation of a team of human beings with family, social and cultural preoccupations that have to be taken into consideration. Since fewer people are needed on the assembly line -- the industrial model of excellence throughout the 20th century -- the talk is more toward promoting the individual's capacity for autonomy, higher-thinking, creativity, and collaborative skills. For instance, these individuals are sought often by the engineered industry, which wants them for project-based work activities. Thus, the nature of the workplace is changing dramatically and the opportunities for employment will be fulfilled through a great variety of disciplines.

d) Learning is becoming a moving target.

There is a strong demand for upgrading human knowledge and skills: young people should learn computer and information-gathering and higher-order thinking skills; they also should learn to develop cooperative skills and how to become a lifelong learner. A number of pan-Canadian initiatives aim at accelerating our passage to a knowledge society: SchoolNet, Community Access Program, Office of Learning Technologies, TL-NCE. For instance, "Working with knowledge" is a key concept applied across TL-NCE's research network. The blurring of the frontiers between school, workplace, and home is increasing.

e) Territories, provinces and countries are developing plans to introduce information and communications technologies in education.

Most countries are now engaged in the process -- even the Northern Provinces of South Africa have joined the ranks. The European Community is sending a clear message that collaboration has become a must for teachers, a gesture which parallels what the Quebec Secrétariat de l'autoroute de l'information has recently done in a document entitled Pour une école branchée. Mexico has a team of 25 persons monitoring telelearning educational activities and programs, and is considering adopting some initiatives developed in Israel. B.C.'s new Open School, a merging of the Open Learning Agency and the Ministry of Education's Education Technology Centre, has established a partnership with Mexico. Newfoundland's Stem~Net is an excellent example of the use of information and communications technologies to provide expanded education to a population spread out over a broad area.

f) Advanced countries implementing information and communications technologies are thinking of value-added learning activities.

An increasing number of schools and educational organizations now have their own Web site and server, and are in a position to publish locally relevant information, students' creations, and educational activities. Whether for vocational/professional education or the acquisition of basic skills, partnerships are being formed in order to develop robust learning activities on the Web. Quite often, they include telecommunications companies interested in getting content into their new networks. In Vienna, musical archives are being digitalized. France, a country once in the forefront with its Minitel and with a long tradition of colonization, is involved in the planning of value-added learning activities that could then be sold to other francophone countries. In the US, it is estimated that the "edutainment corporations" are investing 250 billion dollars in similar activities whose budget amounts to five times the annual education expenditures of all the Canadian provinces, including the federal government contribution. It is tantamount to saying that the field of education now constitutes a vast potential market in a networked world.


1.2 What is the evidence that ICT's can support a new and improved learning paradigm?

ICT's not only allow classroom presentations to be enriched and communication at a distance to be greatly improved, but most importantly support hands-on learning, collaboration and improved access.

a) The call for equity of access

The meaning of the principle of equality of opportunity -- a recognized driving force behind the status of the learner, and the decision-making process of educators for more than thirty years -- now has a broader meaning for those who consider access to ICTs for all registered learners of education systems. ICTs may be in the end the only way to deal with inequalities -- ICTs could enable the distribution of content of equal pedagogical quality. But the potential is there for ICTs to increase the discrepancies of formal learning environments. Access to ICTs outside of the school environment could increase the gap between the haves and the have nots, with poorer families having to face real problems as students are encouraged to use ICTs outside the classroom or to come to university or college equipped with a laptop computer. Much attention will need to be devoted to the establishment of the key conditions to be met: connectivity, content development, and, last but certainly not least, teacher education.

b) Learners' differences are increasing.

Diversity has become a key issue for educators. The learners' age, ethnic, learning background, and now, location are more and more disparate. It is true that ICTs greatly enhance the possibilities of individualizing instruction. Is it the best use of ICTs to consign low-order repetitious teaching practices to them in order for teachers to reallocate their time to demanding conversations and dialogues with learners? The emphasis on lifelong learning accentuates the differentiation among learning needs, and the response to those needs. Those who know how to obtain the information and understand data (for analysis and synthesis purposes), how to solve problems in a collaborative fashion and how to network (networking power), are more likely to make learning (tacit and codified knowledge) part of their daily routine. At the request of the SchoolNet Advisory Board, a group of educators dealt with these issues in their Vision Statement for the Learner in the 21st Century.

c) The empowerment of learners by computers linked to other computers.

The teacher-centered mode of teaching is a highly centralized one. Some students find it too slow, and are likely to resent more and more overtly having to adjust their learning speed to the whole class while they could access authoritative sources on the subject matter concerned through CD-ROMs and the Internet. Students want increased interaction among students, and between students and instructors (one-on-one interaction and professor/student(s) interaction lead to more group- and seminar-like and less lecture-like learning situations). Today, students' heads are filled with images, and they want both theoretical and practical knowledge (computer simulations of moral dilemmas are being developed along side of simulations of frog dissections, and visualization becomes possible). Students used to surfing the Internet for learning resources are discovering the freedom that comes with choosing information sources, communicating with others with similar interests or facing similar difficulties, and working collaboratively on projects. Advocates of ICTs are saying that "traditional teaching" is expensive, time-consuming, and not as effective as it should be, and suggest that new models such as learner-centered delivery systems (for young people), and knowledge-on-demand (for adults) may become more cost-effective than teachers talking in front of a classroom.

d) The evolving view of learners and teachers taken from scientific research in educational psychology.

Different scientific perspectives contribute to our understanding of learning, and each is limited in terms of explaining classroom learning. Recently, the working hypothesis that there exists a continuum from various forms of information processing and cognitive constructivism through to social constructivism and on to sociocultural approaches to learning, was investigated in a special issue of Educational Psychologist. Considering the source, the underlying assumptions that differentiate the approaches, and the likelihood of conveying the value judgment that one end of the continuum is better, the resulting order roughly approximates the moment when the various approaches began to influence the field of educational psychology.

Mayer's research (1996) points to three metaphors on which the theories of learning and instruction have been based on during this century: learning as response strengthening (1900s-1950s), learning as information processing (1960s-1970s), and learning as knowledge constructing (1980s-1990s). During the first era, the research base was lab animals working on artificial tasks; the second era involved humans working on artificial tasks, and the last one, humans working on realistic tasks.

As a result, classroom learning researchers have successively stressed the role of the teacher as 1) a dispenser of rewards and punishments; 2) a dispenser of information; 3) a guide for exploring academic tasks. Concurrently, the role of the learner was seen as 1) a recipient of rewards and punishments; 2) a recipient of information; 3) a sense-maker. And corresponding instructional methods emphasized 1) drill and practice on basic skills; 2) textbooks and lecturing; 3) discussions, guided discovery, supervised participation in academic tasks.

This general trend, however, does not negate other educational psychologists' call, in their seminal works, for other ways of investigation (e.g. Binet, Dewey, Freinet, Rogers). Nor does it account for other research perspectives emerging from sociology, philosophy, history, etc. But it captures in a nutshell what most teachers were taught as scientific knowledge. Needless to say, today's educational psychology courses are richer than ever. Moreover, cross-fertilization among the approaches have, for instance, led to a more inclusive view of information processing, one that includes the activities of processing (information) as well as constructing (knowledge). And one that may see, for instance, the learner as performing a series of discrete mental operations on input information and storing the input or as actively selecting, organizing, and integrating incoming experience with existing knowledge.

e) Advances in cognitive science and technology create the conditions of an educational paradigm shift.

The persistent demand to explain learning in real settings has been met by researchers applying constructivist theories. For most educational and cognitive psychologists, all meaningful learning is a form of active knowledge construction. A clear indication of this tendency is the recent American Psychological Association's publication of learner-centered psychological principles, in collaboration with the Mid-continent Regional Educational Laboratory in the US. As computers multiply the possibilities for individualized, hands-on, collaborative learning and networking, the laws and most compelling educational principles first uncovered by Thorndike (the law of effect and the law of exercise), Dewey (learning from doing), Piaget (knowledge construction), and Vygotsky (learning as a socio-interactive process) can be applied on a much wider range. (See Grégoire et al., 1996)



The impact of the arrival of ICTs is rather obvious and it is hardly surprising to see that it constitutes a very disturbing element in the education world. The administration and teaching professions have in the past faced -- and with great success -- similar forces of profound change in society.

However, educators may have in mind the perennial character of the formal education situation, and be reminded of the formal educational motto: "someone teaching something to someone in a given context." Deeply entrenched in people's minds, that teaching-learning format has proven over and over again its worth to society. Varieties of that basic format, of course, do exist, and informal learning is now being given more recognition. That basic format has served education, and it is associated to competition among learners, and with social selection. Now that school failure is found to be an impediment to society as a whole and that teamwork skills are being promoted, how many more educators are ready to give up some control and to promote the value of "someone learning something with someone in a given context"?

Few will consider standing still in front of the monumental opening in the field of information, communications, and collaboration. Just like with the introduction of printing, society is now in a position to take another giant leap forward. The challenge to humanity is immense and the inevitable disturbance that will be brought with it, has to be met with a mixture of dynamism and caution.

By far, the most critical element here is the recognition that educators use different lenses when looking at the performance and potential of ICTs in their field. Education leaders must work with competing views as they proceed. Let's see now how the ICTs wave is perceived primarily in the education field and in the social world at large and let's take a reading on the characteristics of each group:

a) the members of the traditional group will generally:

hold a position within their organization that favors the teaching of traditional material over new creative work;

perceive ICTs as major annoyances to the present order;

believe that the benefits of a particular change must be clearly established before engaging in the implementation of new projects;

worry that school might be too much directed toward serving the needs of the corporate world;

emphasize failures (big or small) of past innovations to modify learning and teaching practices here and in other countries;

suggest that the students are de facto responsible for their learning.

b) the members of the moderate group will generally:

embrace a gradual approach to the introduction of change within their organization;

demonstrate knowledge in the culture of their organization and openness to the use of ICTs and are already sensitive to the imminent coming changes;

already be sizing up the impact of ICTs as a added-value element in the learning process;

be on the look-out for the experiences attempted in other countries that could fit in their own context;

become aware of the needs of the lifelong learner;

"be aware that students are mainly responsible for their own learning.

c) the members of the enthusiastic group will generally:

be carried away by the possibilities that ICTs could bring into their environment;

be eager to demonstrate in the possibilities and use of ICTs;

focus on ICTs as the driving force in today's society;

believe in the necessity for rapid changes and have a tendency to overcharge the learning capacity of the recipient;

be very keen in wanting to engage in activities at home in light of transformative actions occurring in other countries;

stress the importance of meeting the needs of the corporate sector at the expense of other areas in the education systems;

suggest the adoption of a learner-centered model of education without giving proper consideration to the new role of the teacher within that very model.

Each of these competing views brings an important contribution to the understanding of the problems and challenges faced by the world of education today. To listen to some voices while ignoring others is ill-advised. Though clinging to the technology of the industrial era for the management of education may be more risky than replacing it, to ignore the concerns of those offering critical points of view is also highly risky. (See Postman, 1995; Canadian Teachers' Federation, 1997).
All of those in charge, whether of the classrooms, schools, school districts, homes or governments, are faced with increasingly tough decisions as regards the most thoughtful ways to respond to another victory of humans over nature -- a networked world.



ICT's will probably not allow the number of teachers to be reduced if quality is to be maintained. Cost-effectiveness must be considered while keeping in sight the higher demands for education in the information age. The lines below suggest possibilities that build upon ICTs capacities : 1) ICTs can support teachers' work, and some functions to be reallocated; 2) ICT's can allow substantial savings in facilities, particularly, for example, in widely distributed education systems; 3) ICT's can give dramatically increased benefit through enrichment of the learning process and improved access. Here are argumentative statements and questions that may sustain decision-making in such directions.

a) Throughout history, new technologies have supported new forms of social interaction.

With the advent of agriculture, people became less nomadic, thus profoundly modifying their ways of interacting with one another. The industrial era encouraged people to live in the city. In the post-industrial era, travel became popular. In the information era, distance is even less of a problem as telepresence possibilities expand (from printed materials to phone calls, audio and videotapes, video conferencing, CU-See-Me, Virtual Reality). ICTs have opened many new possibilities for teaching and learning: 1) they provide direct access to information, thus reducing the need for the teacher to be a provider of information (CD-ROMs and Web sites); 2) they merge together the properties of the copy machine, the telephone, the fax and, soon, television, thus enhancing communication (e-mail, listservs, discussion forums); 3) they network resources, thus supporting teamwork and collaboration. How will the imagination and expertise of conceptual designers and those of educators meet in the generation to come?

b) The role of the teacher to be revisited.

The impetus for the teacher, as a social actor, to adapt to the information society is similar to the way he or she was challenged, in the fifties, to adapt to large increases of students in high schools and, later, colleges and universities. The assembly line, the technology then available in the industrial era, was borrowed for a number of reasons, not least of which is cost effectiveness. In other words, the democratization of education has led to large high schools, and large undergraduate classrooms. The gathering of hundreds of high-school students in the same building where subject matter specialists could dispense knowledge has become common practice. The same applies at the undergraduate level, where the gathering of numerous students is the most economical way, time wise, to teach them.

The "assembly line" approach may have been appropriate when the scope of knowledge and the content to be disseminated was much smaller and easier to define. This "knowledge explosion", combined with the much-larger number of students who now complete high school and go on to postsecondary education, presents formidable problems, for the teacher, that were not present in that more "simple" earlier classroom. As results fall below social expectations, as students become more assertive with respect to getting an education and training, and as the feeling grows that students' training is inadequate, it is evident that the time has come for a change! As the ICTs progress during this information era, will the role of the teacher be dramatically transformed or elegantly restored?

c) The enhancement of teachers' work.

As it has been seen in the past, the advent of printed materials has enhanced, through differentiation, the work of the teacher. A quantum leap in the nature of learning itself is forecast for the upcoming generations of learners. With networks and mobile access, time and space dependencies are reduced, as the above-mentioned teaching and learning activities can be transposed to other classrooms. The classroom teacher is called upon to emphasize dialogue and to de-emphasize information-giving. When spending less time "on the stage", the teacher has more time to guide "over the shoulder."

Computer interactive learning activities are found to directly engage the learner, individually or collaboratively, with the subject matter. Science educators are at the forefront of the movement by tapping into the potential of technology-based learning through the redefinition of goals, standards, methods, and activities. The Common Framework of Science Learning Outcomes, K to 12, which will be released by CMEC in October 1997, highlights the links between science and technology. How to enhance the role of governments and the civil society, besides that of the corporate world, in redesigning the work of the teacher?

d) Promoters of ICTs integration in education say that computers can bring the expert to the learner, anytime and anywhere, thus reversing the basic pattern of one teacher for many students at a given time and in one single space.

In other words, learners and teachers are invited to relate differently with the elements of time and space. Consequently, "education on demand" (at home, in the workplace, and in school) is more than simply a catchy phrase; it is a growing expectation. Learner-driven delivery systems (two-way, interactive) have begun to compete with class lectures (one-way information flow). What appears to be the blackboard of an electronic classroom can be transformed into a large screen, which allows everyone in the room to interact with people in another classroom through voice-activated camera (this in operation in Norway, for instance). How long will it take to overcome the constraints inherent in mixing of the blackboard and the screen, in order to benefit the learner?

e) Cost-effective instructional means: a crucial factor.

Canada already spends more than $56 billion on education (Council of Ministers of Education, 1995). More than ever before, education systems are doing more with less. The integration of ICTs only increases the pressure. At the beginning of the integration process, ICTs are likely to be considered as superfluous. Teaching practices remain the same, and multi-media materials that directly support approved curriculum are sparse. In other words, ICTs are an added cost. But, the use of new technologies as a tool is already showing signs that the curriculum is changing to accommodate new social expectations. They must become an essential part of the infrastructure. It is not a question of reducing costs but of recognizing that ICTs are an essential tool to the business of education. Given the availability of ICTs and the increased demand, both quantitative and qualitative, for knowledge, which pace will education systems adopt in revising their practices?

f) Collaboration among those working in education and industry is increasing.

In the face of worldwide competition, new alliances are being built and collaborative ventures are being initiated on a local, regional, and international basis. Education institutions are faced with the challenge of becoming more flexible, they are pressured to break down the walls of the classroom, and to bridge the learning at home, at school, and at work. For instance, universities are increasingly active at the international level. Will their "monopoly" in the knowledge domain prevail? Don't the information and communications technologies exhibit the three dimensions: dispersal, decentralization, and diversity?

As a means to transform the sociotechnical infrastructure of education systems, the integration of ICTs in educational systems will not be cost-effectiveness issues in the short run. A transition period is to be expected. Cost-effectiveness issues may press the agenda.



Under the CMEC guidance, impressive steps were taken during the last two years, laying the groundwork for choices leading to well-balanced technology-enhanced learning environments. The following activities could constitute elements of a CMEC strategy on information and communications technologies in education.

A) in the field of applied research:

1. Support for the Canadian Educational Research and Information System (CERIS), an important repository of the results of applied research, so that it will be in a position to update its data on a continuous basis.

Research projects have already demonstrated the progress accomplished by teams of educators working in partnership and committed to the discovery of pedagogical possibilities of technology-enhanced learning environments.

Conclusive results on the impact of ICTs are not yet available to policy makers to rely on as they are pressed into action regarding the integration of ICTs in education.

Well-documented pilot projects fostering the development of new pedagogies that integrate ICTs, combined with practices that have demonstrated their effectiveness in the past, are badly needed. Those kind of projects build learning communities, uncover factors that hamper organization and emphasize what works.

Ethnographic studies of teachers' work in technology-enhanced learning environments would be highly instrumental, in addition to or in replacement of task analyses on which many teacher education programs are based.

2. CMEC Secretariat should be requested to pay specific attention to developing means to increase the ICT-enhanced education flow towards not only the schools but also towards the community.

The information age, highlights the need to increase the ICT-enhanced education flow towards the community as well as towards schools . It is the community (i.e. the citizen's) which is made up of volunteer/non-profit/non-governmental organizations, that is likely to become one of the main beneficiaries of the ICT-education enhanced flow. Industry Canada, in changing the name of its department of Science and Academic Affairs to "Information Highway Application Branch", acknowledges the importance of the more than 18,000 organizations of that sector throughout the country. While ministries and departments of Education, and indeed, educational institutions, must first devote themselves to providing formal education, there needs to be some interaction between the formal and non formal sectors. Canada might even end up by having a better informed citizenry.

Whatever Industry Canada might have in mind when it indicates its intention to help the business and multi-media sectors, it would seem appropriate that the community also be supported so that its members could play their role in the society.

3. CMEC Secretariat should review the first version of the document entitled: "Vision of the 21st century learner", with a view to incorporating elements of this document into its own vision.

It must be kept in mind that the "Vision" reflects educators' core values, builds upon the reports of recent pan-Canadian committees, and is the by-product of the research supported by CMEC.

The Vision Statement fosters democracy and puts forward the notion of interconnected learning communities.

Keeping in mind the main responsibilities of the provinces and territories in the field of education and the importance of the subject matter, this document could receive the attention it deserves by forming the basis for future CMEC reflection.

4. The CMEC Secretariat should be requested to proceed with the preparation of a position paper as regards the value-added learning activities that should be encouraged and supported in Canada.

Public schools can only compete if they have quality programs with value-added learning activities and with some that are truly Canadian in nature and content.

The accent should clearly be put on the development on learning outcomes rather than on specific curricula which are clearly a provincial and territorial concern.

The accent should also be placed on the conditions necessary for the development of quality value-added learning activities. Provinces and territories are hard pressed to find the resources needed to develop the value-added learning activities that will be available to schools and to the home. Community involvement should be stressed (parents, elderly people, business, etc.)

The Pan-Canadian Science Project provides an opportunity to pilot the collaborative development of software/courseware/learnware.

Schools and ministries/departments can expect students to demand that they be given credit for courses taken elsewhere, as course credits for high school students become available from a number of sources on the Net. The subject of credit transfer and recognition of credits is another areas to which CMEC could turn its attention.

5. CMEC Secretariat should be requested to commission a longitudinal study on the overall social impact of the ICTs on education systems.

The social impact of ICTs on the education systems is not yet known : what are the consequences of embracing ICTs later rather than earlier? Which collective meanings will emerge?

The real value of connecting schools goes far beyond that of accessing information and merging the fax machine, the telephone and the copy machine by using e-mail and transferring files. It opens the door to a whole new repertory of activities between networked schools and higher ed institutions, some of which yet to be pioneered. Teleteaching and telelearning activities are being developed. Teachers and learners can get help in a flexible way.

Sharing concerns, resources and activities on-line are ways to cooperate and get support and help. Engaging in problem setting and solving on-line as well as in collaborative research on curriculum and instruction are other forms of collaboration. We are seeing the emergence of virtual teams of researchers.

Aside from the passage to collaborative modes of teaching, it is the distribution system (contents and educational resources) that computers linked to other computers may change within education systems. Without proper management, computers linked to other computers, may lead to the multiplication of private worlds -- too many unvisited web sites, for instance -- and the opportunity for collaboration will be lost.

Education systems need time to change. There are many different interests, individual aspirations, and school cultures that exist in the field of education. Sustainability must be provided in order for new activities and infrastructures to show results given the many and often conflicting forces at work.

The job at hand is managing the new equilibrium resulting from drastic changes in sociotechnical infrastructure.


B) in the support of on-going projects:

1. The CMEC Secretariat should be requested to favour the exchange of views between provincial and territorial experts across Canada on the use of ICTs as a tool to support and enhance existing and new curricula.

The subject matter is clearly a provincial responsibility. However, there is a great advantage for the provincial and territorial experts to be in a position to exchange views at a site set aside for this express purpose.

2. The CMEC Secretariat should team up with provincial and territorial officials in order to favour the development of learning outcomes and assessment instruments for ICTs.

Learning outcomes are needed that are congruent with a new vision of how people learn and organize knowledge.

New modes of evaluation and assessment are being developed, some of which are computer-supported.

It is unrealistic in the short term to expect improved academic results. However, this should be on the radar of decision-makers and practitioners, as classrooms and schools that engage on this path.

3. The CMEC Secretariat is requested to prepare a position paper on the barriers to reaching the education clientele in remote regions and on the role that governments (federal, provincial and territorial) could play in overcoming these barriers.

Disadvantaged groups are at risk of being further disadvantaged by inequality of access. Provinces and territories have specific problems to deal with: for instance, B.C. has a large Native population living on reserve, the Western Provinces have extensive northern regions to develop, Quebec has close ties with Francophones educators all over Canada and the French-speaking African countries, etc.


C) in drawing upon the international experience

l. The CMEC Secretariat should be requested to prepare a position paper on the feasibility of organizing a NetDay in Canada.

The NetDay, being organized for next October by the European Commission, was inspired by the US Netdays. It has been designed as an awareness raising campaign on ICTs, and offers an opportunity for networking in education, with a focus on the exchange of content. The European Community believes that a world educational market is a short 24 months away from becoming reality (as stated in Oslo, August 1997).

2. The CMEC Secretariat should be requested to produce a position paper examining various aspects of the effects of the enormous and constant flow of information on the world communication networks: legal issues, intellectual propriety rights, methodology as regards orderly and appropriate ways to screen the huge flow of data, etc.

The field of education has its own practices which should be reflected in such a document. This paper could be produced in collaboration with others (AUCC, CEA, Industry Canada, etc.).

3. The CMEC Secretariat should be requested to prepare a position paper as regards the opportunity for teachers to collaborate through networks.

As schools and classrooms become linked through intranets and the Internet, new activities will take place. There is an opportunity for more collaborative work among educators. Up to now, most of the possibilities of ICTs were seen as related to information (student learning). The emphasis should also be put on collaboration among educators.

Within a networked world of learning, the practices of francophone teachers of mathematics and those of anglophone teachers of science each group having topped the TIMSS list, could be just be a few clicks away from all other Internet-linked teachers who want to learn from their peers.

UNESCO is now considering the possibility of worldwide teacher education.

Microsoft and other companies have on-line professional development activities for teachers.




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