May 17, 2004
FREDERICTON (CNB) - Education Minister Madeleine Dubé today released a Call for Participation inviting public schools to apply to take part in a pilot project to evaluate the impact of dedicated computer access on student learning and teaching practices.
"The Dedicated Computer Access Initiative is a natural extension of what we have been doing in our schools in recent years to incorporate the use of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) into our classrooms," Dubé said. "It supports the vision of our Quality Learning Agenda to create 'A culture of excellence and high achievement exemplified by innovation and lifelong learning.'"
The pilot project will involve four schools - two anglophone and two francophone. One rural school and one urban school will be selected from each sector from among those submitting proposals to participate in the project. The first year of the two-year pilot project will involve Grade 7 students and teachers. In the second year, those students will continue in the pilot as they move into Grade 8 while a second group of incoming Grade 7 students will also take part.Schools have until June 4, 2004, to submit proposals to take part in the pilot project.
"Based on the number of schools and school districts which have already indicated their interest, we expect there will be many applicants who want to take part in this very exciting initiative," the minister said.
She said each of the schools selected to be part of the pilot project will have dedicated access to a technology mentor who will work on pedagogical issues with participating teachers as well as an IT technician.
Dubé said New Brunswick is ideally suited to research the impact of dedicated computer access on learning and teaching.
"Over the past three years, we have installed high-speed bandwidth in all our schools and we have developed about 35 online courses for students and teachers," the minister said. "New Brunswick has been a leader in the use of ICT to improve learning and teaching, so I am confident we will be able to implement a research project such as this one more easily than most other jurisdictions."
Researchers from two New Brunswick universities - Université de Moncton and Mount Allison University - will evaluate the project's impact on learning and teaching, she said.
"We will work with our post-secondary partners to undertake a study to assess the impact of dedicated computer access on teaching practices, the learning environment, and student motivation and achievement,'' Dubé said. "During the research project, information will be obtained from students, teachers, school and district administrators, and parents."
The minister said information technology is already transforming New Brunswick classrooms just as it is transforming workplaces and homes.
"Without question, we are in the age of information technology and our schools, like everything else, must adapt," she said. "Already, information technology is transforming our classrooms. It is changing how our teachers teach and how our students learn, and that's what this is really all about - improving learning and providing more learning and teaching opportunities."
Dedicated computer access will allow students and teachers to access and process the most up-to-date information, while improving ICT competencies, said Dubé, who added the pilot project is one of the actions set out in the Quality Learning Agenda for the public school system.
The Department of Education has budgeted $1.1 million in 2004-05 for the pilot project.
The Call for Participation document is available online at: http://www.gnb.ca/0000/publications/comm/not-e.pdf
MEDIA CONTACTS: Steve Benteau or Hugues Beaulieu, communications, Department of Education, 506-444-4714.