Conference overall theme
The Second International Conference on Education: current and future trends in teaching and teacher training is an opportunity to keep abreast of what is happening in education research, teacher training, and the teaching profession, to explore current issues, and to contemplate new and promising directions for research and development.
The overall scientific objective of this International Conference is to spark intellectually informed discussions and reflections under the five following themes:
Teacher training programs (initial and ongoing)
The teaching career
These themes are parts of a continuum that covers the teaching career pathway: 1) taking a teacher training program; 2) entering the profession; 3) carrying out professional duties in interaction with other schools and educational actors, aiming to help students succeed academically; and 4) performing one’s job within the education system. To these we have added a fifth theme: 5) Digital learning, which is becoming a must in the educational field.
This Conference also has objectives that are relevant to the larger scientific community. We have targeted the three following objectives:
Bring together researchers from around the world to pool their expertise and share their work and knowledge, participate in fruitful discussions, and stimulate advances in common research themes and objectives.
Ensure transfer of the latest knowledge on teacher training, professional insertion, educational intervention, the teaching profession, and digital learning to partners and public organizations operating in the educational field, and to other education stakeholders, including teachers, educators, and administrators.
Build an international network of collaborations and partnerships with researchers and diverse education stakeholders in Québec and beyond.
Theme 1 - Teacher training programs (initial and ongoing)
In Québec and elsewhere, many teacher training programs (elementary, high school, special education, etc.) have undergone major transformations since the 1960s, in several areas: education faculties, curriculae, knowledge and competencies, relationships between education actors, and more. These transformations are evident in new education policies (professionalization, universitarization, etc.) and various reforms of the teacher training system. Today’s university system in Québec is the product of the reforms of 1994 and 2001, which resulted in extended training programs, improved integration of research, greater collaboration among schools and universities, and the rise of the competency-based approach. Furthermore this improved training system, although with certain timing lags, had to deal with major reforms of school programs and new societal demands for properly qualified teachers namely the ability to use computerized teaching and learning tools; the capacity to work in an increasingly multicultural environment, the requirement to integrate students with learning, developmental, and other problems, and the skills to cope with disadvantaged school populations, notably in major urban centers.
Theme 2 – Professional Insertion
Professional insertion into teaching as a career is a crucial. It is a time when novice teachers undergo job socialization, construct their professional identity, and consolidate their knowledge and skills. This transition demands the capacity to adapt to what are often difficult teaching conditions. In this respect, researchers, educators, and decision makers should be aware of some disturbing trends: teachers are increasingly leaving the profession after working for only four or five years (FCE, 2005); there is a lack of qualified teachers in subjects like high school math and science; and the legions of teachers who are retiring means that legions of new teachers need to be hired. The compelling issues are therefore to attract and retain well qualified replacements (MEQ, 2003), to provide them with a professional legacy (COFPE, 2002), and to breathe new life into a faltering profession (CSE, 2004). In Québec, although initial and ongoing training programs have been subjected to major reforms, the area of professional insertion is still being developed (COFPE, 2002; FSE, 2008). Yet successful professional insertion is essential for making the job appealing, inspiring teachers to pursue their teaching career, and developing good teachers, in addition to helping students learn.
Theme 3 – Education interventions
The education intervention encompasses all the actions that educators (teachers, teachers-in-training, interns, university professors, etc.) take in order to achieve educational goals in an educational setting, whereby they create favorable conditions for effective learning. At school, the education intervention includes planning (the preactive phase), the practice or intervention per se with learners (interactive phase), and assessment of the practice or intervention (the postactive phase). The intervention is a thought out and reflexive action in the sense that it involves reasoned planning and preparation. It is a complete regulatory action carried out by an actor (the educator) within a socially standardized framework (Couturier, 2001). The concept of educational intervention is intimately bound with that of mediation, because it involves a practical and regulatory interaction between learners, the curriculum, and a socially mandated intervenor (the educator). The concept of educational intervention therefore implies an action taken within a relational profession intended to modify a process or system.
Theme 4 – The teaching career
Who are the teachers and the other education stakeholders? What do they think about their jobs and how they collaborate? What is their place and power in the education system? How do they define their professional identity? What are their reactions to the many reforms and social changes that have affected schools in recent decades? These questions are central to this theme. In Québec and across Canada, educators play a vital role not only in the education system, but also in the socioeconomic system as a whole. They account for approximately six percent of Canada’s labor force, and they constitute one of the largest skilled professional populations. In Canada, some 320,000 qualified preschool, elementary, and high school teachers are responsible for 5.5 million students attending over 16,000 schools. In Québec, there are 120,000 educators working with a million students when you include the professional and adult sectors. Through their daily dealings with students and other education stakeholders, the school staff constitutes the cornerstone of the education system. They are the ones who take on the basic educational mission of preparing new generations of citizens and workers. In this sense, the socioprofessional conditions in which they work merit close examination, given all the profound changes that have taken place, which affect schools, students, and society.
Theme 5 – Digital Learning
The growth of digital learning signals and accompanies a profound transformation of developed societies: the emergence of the knowledge society. Computers are playing an ever more central role in all spheres of daily life. They are also wielding a steadily growing influence on how countries are evolving worldwide, with significant effects on the economic, social, and educational dimensions (Redecker, 2010). These far-reaching changes have accelerated with the advent of Web 2.0, with interfaces that allow web users to interact with page content and with one another. In the education field, the integration of information and communication technologies (ICT) into education has become irreversible. In terms of learning styles, these changes are seen in new learner characteristics. Redecker’s (2010) literature review identifies nine learning patterns that characterize the new generation of learners: constant use of technology, multitasking, individualization and personalization, greater connectivity (available anywhere, at any time), immediacy, use of a range of media types, engagement, work-oriented attitude, sociability, and new habits in response to new needs (e.g., digital literacy in order to successfully participate in a “smart” economy). The question arises as to whether new teachers are properly prepared to take advantage of the information explosion in the Internet era. Through investigations into the ICT integration process and the impacts on education systems, researchers are attempting to identify the strengths and weaknesses of teacher training approaches in the use of ICT tools in education. They are seeking the best integration strategies for teacher training programs, and they are exploring resistance factors in using ICT for education, in both teachers and learners. To this we may add the emerging trend of distance learning and massive open online courses (MOOCs).