Lap­top brings drop in dropout rate

Stanstead Journal - - FRONT PAGE - Staff Branby

Stu­dent Aze­lea work­ing at her lap­top. Former ETSB Di­rec­tor Gen­eral, Ron Canuel who was the orig­i­na­tor of the pro­gram, an­swer­ing jour­nal­ist ques­tions. He is now the CEO of the Cana­dian Ed­u­ca­tion As­so­ci­a­tion.

One of the find­ings pro­posed yes­ter­day by Dr. Thierry Karsenti of the Univer­sité de Mon­treal on the lap­top pro­gram of the East­ern Town­ships School Board is that the huge drop in the dropout rate at the lo­cal schools may be at­trib­uted to the use of the com­put­ers in schools. The event was held at Granby’s Parkview Ele­men­tary and was cov­ered by lo­cal me­dia from Granby, Mon­treal and Sher­brooke.

Pro­fes­sor Thierry Karsenti of the Univer­sité

de Mon­tréal, holder of the Canada Re­search Chair on In­for­ma­tion and Com­mu­ni­ca­tion Tech­nolo­gies (ICT) in Ed­u­ca­tion, ex­plained in his study: “In fact, the stu­dent dropout rate stood at 42% ten years ago, and the board was ranked 67th out of 69 boards across the province of Que­bec. This piti­ful per­for­mance forced the en­tire ed­u­ca­tion com­mu­nity at the East­ern Town­ships School Board, in­clud­ing direc­tors, school prin­ci­pals, teach­ers, and com­mis­sion­ers, to un­dergo a ma­jor re­think­ing of how their stu­dents were be­ing taught. They then did what no other school board in Que­bec or in Canada had ever done be­fore: they bought 4,500 lap­top com­put­ers and gave one to each stu­dent, from grades 3 to 11.Now, ten years af­ter chang­ing its ped­a­gog­i­cal ap­proach along with this wide-scale tech­no­log­i­cal im­ple­men­ta­tion, the school board has leapt from 67th to 23rd po­si­tion in the province. In ad­di­tion, the dropout rate has been cut al­most in half, from 39.4% to 22.1%. This is one of the most dra­matic im­prove­ments in dropout rate among all Cana­dian school boards. Fur­ther­more, far from

be­ing re­solved, the dropout prob­lem has been get­ting worse in Que­bec over the last ten years.”

While he ad­mits that other fac­tors may ex­plain the fall in the dropout rate, what is known is that the im­pact on the teach­ing meth­ods has been an over­whelm­ing success, es­pe­cially in writ­ing skills, where stu­dents are mak­ing fewer mis­takes and find­ing it eas­ier and faster to write; the main ben­e­fits of the lap­top ini­tia­tive. The study also stressed the im­pact on the stu­dents’ ca­pac­ity to be cre­ative and of team­work and co­op­er­a­tion.

But as Chan­tal Beaulieu of the school board said in her open­ing re­marks, the pro­gram’s fate is now in the hands of the pro­vin­cial government who has told school boards across the province to cut costs.

The report and the ex­cel­lent videos are avail­able at: http://etsb.cri­fpe.ca/

Photo Stanstead Jour­nal

Photo Stanstead Jour­nal

Photo Stanstead Jour­nal

Dr. Thierry Karsenti of the Univer­sité de Mon­treal.

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