Websites and Virtual History Museums: Educational Strategies Used by Francophone Teachers in Canada
Paquin, Maryse, Barfurth, Marion, International Journal of Instructional Media
Recently in Canada, information and communication technology (ICT) has made massive inroads into the fields of museology (CHIN, 2002) and education (COLT, 1999), as it has in other fields. Always open to new trends, museums are constantly producing innovative educational tools that might be of interest in the schools. (Hawkey, 1999; Kraus, 1999). Among these, we note in particular the ClioClic website developed by The McCord Museum of Canadian History (Larouche & Vallieres, 2002) and the Virtual Museum of New France (VMNF) developed by The Canadian Museum of Civilization (Blanchette, 1996).
Enthusiasm about the use of ICT in teaching has not bypassed French-language schools in Canada (Lenoir et al., 2001) and Francophone teachers are starting to show interest in the websites that are available to encourage their students' learning in social science and history (Hudon & Landry, 2002). However, there are several stumbling blocks to the use of the Internet by French-Canadian teachers: few websites are available in French compared to English, few of them are formally assessed to determine their educational value (Buchanan, 1998; Wilkinson, 1997), lack of training and time (Barfurth, 2002), and the shortage of connected work stations in classrooms (Ipsos-Reid, 2002). This situation exists even though most of the country's primary and secondary schools have for some time had the minimal technological equipment required to access the Internet for educational purposes (Statistics Canada, 1999).
BACKGROUND AND RESEARCH QUESTIONS
At this time, we know little about the ways in which Francophone teachers in Canada use the Internet and virtual museums, notably the VMNF, to encourage their students' learning of socio-historical concepts, like the way of life for the settlers of New France. This is true despite the conclusions from an earlier study by Paquin (2003) that the VMNF conforms to the educational objectives of Ontario and Quebec's social studies and history programs at the primary and high-school levels, which indicates the relevance of this website for teaching concepts related to New France. In extending this study, it is now important to verify the manner in which Francophone teachers use the Internet and virtual museums, and also to identify their perceptions about the type of learning their students achieve. The following research questions were asked: How do Francophone teachers in Canada use the Internet and consult virtual museums in relation to their teaching of social studies and history at the primary and secondary grade levels? What are their viewpoints on the type of learning achieved by their students in these subject areas through the use of ICT?
In order to answer these questions, quantitative data were collected by means of an interview questionnaire comprising both semi-open and closed-ended questions. After it was designed, the questionnaire was submitted to an expert committee made up of teachers, museologists and researchers for validation. Then the questionnaire was pre-tested with six teachers and concluded with telephone interviews that were recorded, then transcribed. Following the pre-test, final corrections were made to the questionnaire. All quantitative data collected during the study was compiled in tabular form and subjected to analysis and interpretation. In all, 125 Francophone primary and secondary social studies and history teachers in Canada participated voluntarily in this study, via invitations that were first sent by e-mail to their school boards or districts, as well as to their school administration.
Some Socio-demographic Data
Among the 125 Francophone teachers who took part in the study, 58.5% taught at the primary grade levels and the remaining taught at the secondary. The teachers represented the IO Canadian provinces and 3 territories. In terms of age, 58.5% of the respondents were under 40 years of age and 28% were between 40 and 49. …