Project 7.1 March 31 '97 Report
TeleLearning Professional Development Schools (PDSs) Network

1. Significant research results and findings. Thanks to the Professional Development School (PDS) model, and the university-school formal liaisons, we now have communities of educators which can assume responsibility for the orientation, organization, implementation and evaluation of the pre- and in-service education of teachers at each site. At the Laval University/Quebec City site, the infusion of information and communication technologies (ICT) moved at the top of the teacher educators' agenda (pre-service and in-service professional development activities), likewise at the McGill/Montreal site, but there the emphasis was put on the professional development of school principals. At UBC/Vancouver site, the emphasis is on the high school learner at one end, and on the development of a creative teacher education program at the other end, with the two coming together in an onsite teacher education program that deploys telelearning technologies. The project is being coordinated on a national scale utilizing Virtual U as a collaborative worksite for researchers and project leaders, and the process has been documented, with some of the results presented at AERA and SITE a few weeks ago .

Early results of this R & D project highlighted the necessity of the following four steps, which corroborate Banathy's finding (1991): 1) information sharing, cooperation, coordination, and integration. Moreover, early results have led to the formulation of a six-step process, now being tested at Laval, for the integration of telelearning tools in the education of educators.

Innovators and early adopters (student teachers, teachers, school principals, and university educators) use e mail, develop search avenues, web pages and collaborative spaces. Technical problems are numerous. Quite a few are interested not only in having their address in cyberspace, but in building a home, hoping that others will visit, or pass through their site in order to access other sites. The objective of creating functional and collaborative communities of inquiry (objective 1) calls for the channelling of these energies, and interconnected learning communities has become the guiding organizational principle for two of the sites.

Ways in which telelearning can shrink the gap between sites of learning and sites of practice (objective 2) are being uncovered : e mail messages for both administrative and pedagogical purposes, sharing of recommended sites on the Internet, help in getting newcomers started, construction of an interactive web site. For instance, we have seen a high school learner teach basic navigation skills to a student teacher, a teacher educator teach cooperative teachers how to use a new application, student teachers do course assignments in partnership with school teachers, teachers meet student teachers for technical advice, teachers come to a graduate course to describe a project they are working on.

These examples demonstrate how the uses of technology for learning may influence the practices of participants (objective 3). As telelearning tools penetrate the classroom, issues of control reappear (Who will decide which hardware and software to buy? Will students engage actively in their own learning?). We know that pre-service teachers need to see teacher educators (university-based and school-based) operate and they also need to put into practice how to manage a technology-rich learning environment, how to conduct project-based learning using telelearning tools, and how to guide knowledge-building activities.

The development of functional and collaborative communities of inquiry in which both teachers and students adopt new roles as they assimilate new social expectations, cognitive science implications for the classroom and how computer-supported learning activities may be instrumental is what this action-research is all about.

2. New intellectual property developed. We now have developed Power Point presentations on the integration of information and communication technologies, computer-supported courses syllabi, on-line learning materials and activities related to the integration of ICT into the school and the classroom, articles.

3. New issues which could significantly affect the research in the next 6 months. At first, the challenge was to establish a state-of-the-art test bed at each of the three sites. Because the building of a critical mass of emerging practices is now the challenge, it follows that not only to link to and share the activities that are occuring at each of the three sites, but also to connect and share learning materials, and findings of the principal investigators working on the other Theme 7 projects. Given the developments that have occurred, the time has also come for sites to be inclusive of beacon technologies as they progress in the integration of information and communication technologies (ICT).

4. Significant developments in industry interaction. Formal agreements on state-of-the-art "test beds" now exist at each site :

- Laval University / Ecole Les Compagnons-de-Cartier & Ecole Le Sommet (Quebec City area), and the Quebec-Chaudiere-Appalaches School Districts are integrating telelearning tools.

- McGill University /schools of the Protestant School Board of Greater Montreal and other schools in the School Improvement Program are now involved. The development of a social network of partners, including school principals and committees, is being studied.

- UBC/Richmond School District have plans underway to utilize CSILE in facilitating the building of a learning community among pre-service teachers who are initiating a site-based teacher-education program that is going to be supported in its telelearning initiatives by integration with the 7.2 and 7.4 projects.

At Laval University, the focus is on the potential of using on-line materials and interaction (Internet and Intranet) to satisfy some of the requirements -- related to the processes of information sharing, co-operation, coordination and integration of activities -- in order for university-school partnerships to contribute significantly to the education of pre-service and in-service teachers within a large network of associated schools. A three-layer information and communication technology (ICT) infusion strategy is in progress :

1. Intensive presence and telepresence of Laval University in two high schools located in different school districts (École Les Compagnons de Cartier & École Le Sommet).

2. Partnership in a number of ICT initiatives taken by school personnel (École La Rochebelle, École St-Denys-Garneau, École La Passerelle) and the two participating school districts (C.S. Les Découvreurs & C.S. Des Ilets).

3. ICT information and training to other interested student teachers, cooperative teachers, associated schools, and school districts. Note : The network involves, as a whole, 22 school districts, 35 high schools, 100 elementary schools and over a thousand cooperative teachers. They constitute one third of the educational system that is schooling the youngsters of the Quebec-Chaudiere-Appalaches Region. Most of these schools are likely to be connected to the Internet before the end of 1997.

Researchers at all three sites espoused the perspective of radically different learning and teaching environments will emerge through the school-university association and the intensive use it makes in teacher education, of the technological media already linked to a vast network.

Participation in other local, regional, national, and international undertakings may also be mentioned (for instance, schools' plans to integrate ITC, Quebec's and BC's plans for ITC implementation, SchoolNet's mandate to help link the 16 500 schools within Canada, Office of Learning Technologies's program, Unesco's reflection on the role of the teacher).

Contract of 10 000$ with the Secrétariat de l'autoroute de l'information, in collaboration with CRIM, on a consultation document on the implementation of ICT in Quebec schools (Year 2).

Resources from Videotron, IBM, MEQ to one PDS are pending.

Discussions involving SUN representatives and another network of centres of excellence (IRIS) for the building of an Intranet in the Quebec Region schools have reached the stage of a written proposal.