Tuesday, 4 October 2011, 10:25 PM
By Kerri Gibson
Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) have great potential to compliment and support the education of our future generations. Fortunately, there are high quality educational programs available that help train individuals, and teachers in particular, on how to creatively integrate ICT into classrooms. The Masters of Education, Educational Intervention Program, is a perfect example of one of these successful programs.
This M.Ed. program was initially offered at the University of Montreal (Université de Montréal). With the support of the First Nations Education Council (FNEC), it has now been tailored and expanded to serve the needs of Quebec First Nations Masters students and educators. The first cohort of First Nations students (which included teachers and a principal) commenced the program in 2007, and since that date there have already been five graduates. A 75-85% graduation rate is expected with regard to the first cohort, but even more impressive is the 100% graduate rate predicted for the second cohort!
|Click here (Publication #26) for research on Post-Secondary Distance Education for First Nations, Métis and Inuit Learners in Remote and Rural Communities|
The training program is multi-faceted, and according to two evaluations is being very well-received by students. Specifically, the program involves such things as distance learning, the support of tutors, practical opportunities to apply skills, and an “in-person” component where students and their professors unite to connect at the beginning of the program. This initial in-person contact has been found to be incredibly beneficial — helping build relationships and contributing to on-going motivation. Further, it has helped to build a sense of belonging among students which can help buffer against feelings of isolation, which is one of the challenges of distance education. At the same time, while the students are “on-site” they are able to use the variety of resources and tools available to them.
Students in this program have noted many important lessons that they have learned, including being able to think critically about using ICTs in educational settings, knowing the benefits of using ICT in education, and having the technical skills to implement them. Fortunately, many of these students have gone on to support fellow teachers in their adventures with weaving ICT into the classroom.
Above all, students in this program have completed interesting, creative, and important theses — ranging from an exploration of digital storytelling and how this approach can support Native Language (as well as French and English) development and fluency, to how ICT influences the motivation of Mi’Kmaq Elementary-school students.