CSLP toolkit 

By Karen Herland

VP Research Louise Dandurand (left) and Acting Director of the Office of Research Carole Brabant congratulate the Director of the Centre for the Study of Learning and Performance, Philip Abrami, at a March 30 reception. Magnifying glass

VP Research Louise Dandurand (left) and Acting Director of the Office of Research Carole Brabant congratulate the Director of the Centre for the Study of Learning and Performance, Philip Abrami, at a March 30 reception.

Over the last two weeks, the Centre for the Study of Learning and Performance has hosted a number of events celebrating their work on research and development on Information and Communication Technologies (ICT).

The CSLP’s work on a variety of software tools intended to enhance student learning and literacy skills was launched earlier as the Learning Toolkit.

“Elements of the software have been developed for eight years and improved. But they have reached a stage of stability, so we have linked them and offered them as part of an integrated package,” explains Anne Wade, Manager of the CSLP.

In the toolkit is ABRACADABRA an interactive program that helps younger children develop reading skills. Also included is ePEARL, an electronic portfolio tool designed to help elementary and secondary students organize their own work, set goals and share their work with their classmates, parents and teachers. The CSLP is also developing ISIS-21, an information literacy tool that instructs and supports students as they conduct their research.

A funding proposal has been submitted to the education ministry that would finance a postsecondary level for ePEARL. If successful, students in Concordia’s Early Childhood and Elementary Education program could use ePEARL as a means to reflect on their own professional development. “This will help them become comfortable with how to use technology to support learning,” Wade says. “They will understand its value and pedagogical use and hopefully use ePEARL in their own classrooms.”

The March 23 launch featured CSLP representatives Richard Schmid and Anne Wade. Also present were representatives of LEARN, a non-profit foundation that facilitates delivery of e-learning tools to the province’s English school systems, and the Centre de transfert pour la réussite educative de Québec, both supporters of the project. The software was presented to a room packed with representatives from government and numerous English language school boards across the province.

“Every English school board in Quebec has installed the Learning Toolkit locally, as have many French ones,” Wade says.

The software is offered free of charge to the educational community. Tools within the Learning Toolkit have been researched in classrooms in Quebec, Manitoba, Alberta, British Columbia and Ontario.

Besides software progress, on March 30, the CSLP held a reception to thank the ministère du développement économique de l’innovation et de l’exportation (MDEIE) whose $550 000 infrastructure contribution, along with funds from the Faculty of Arts and Science, supported the upgrade of numerous facilities on campus for the design, development and testing of their software. The reception presented a video that provided an overview of the CSLP’s research and development on ICT activities.

“We have new servers, new design and development machines and we have about 50 new laptops which are distributed in our research classrooms,” explains Wade.

Being able to use responsive, current equipment in the field is necessary since the software is developed through an iterative process of research, design, development, and then implemented with new design improvements.

A number of CSLP researchers are from the Educational Technology Program which was established as the first such program in 1968. A series of events have been planned for this year, including a recent educational technology fair which demonstrated that keeping on top of the latest developments is critical in this competitive environment.

On April 1, the CSLP demonstrated its new equipment and materials for President Judith Woodsworth. She visited the centre’s various facilities as one of the several on-site research lab visits she has conducted over the last few weeks through the Office of Research.

Philip C. Abrami, Research Chair and Director of CSLP was out of the country for the March 23 launch, but was available for the other events. He will be receiving the 2009 Outstanding Contributions To Cooperative Learning Award in San Diego later this month. The award honours contributions to cooperative learning research and is offered through a group of the American Educational Research Association.


Concordia University