The FETICHE Project

a SOCRATES Open and Distance Learning Project

Draft State of the Art Report

CMC (1) and NICTs (2) in Teachers' Education

Raymond Morel and Pierre Dunand Filliol

A Introduction

1) The Swiss situation is very specific: it has no less than 26 ministry of Education, teachers' training is very different from one canton to another and the use of telematics and computer mediated teaching is particular to almost each particular school... Hence, this report can only be pretty patchy, as any study that tries to have a nation-wide point of view on Swiss education and training.

2) To keep this document within reasonable size, we shall limit ourselves to prominent aspect of teachers' training using CMC and NICTs.

B An Overview of the C.I.P.'s activities (Department of Public Education, Canton of Geneva)


The Educational Technology Centre (C.I.P.) of the Department for Public Education (DIP) of Geneva is operated by teachers and specialists :

- teams of teachers won over to pedagogical innovations;

- a specific centre for the development and implementation of new technology activities;

- a network of teachers for exchange, reflection and development of learning tools;

- applying new technology, electronic networks and professional specialities, learning

- materials put on a local and wide area network, available to resident and distant students

The aims of the C.I.P. :

- help one acquire a range of pedagogical skills updated on developments within and beyond one's teaching subject,

- help to make an effective use of new technologies, methods and material because

- education will profit from advances in information technology and telecommunications.


The range of services offered supports all actors of the DIP community.

The C.I.P. provides :

- pedagogic support

- learning methodology and infrastructures

- research and development efforts

- a vision for the future in open and distance learning

- dissemination of information

- multimedia material and technologies

- concepts and know-how on telematic support systems

- skills development workshops

The C.I.P. also offers information beyond pedagogy and technology :

- pedagogical or educational concepts of student centred learning

- learning technologies

- computing tools for teachers

- computer-based pedagogical tools for teaching and learning

- assessment of the influence of these tools on the contents and methods of teaching and learning

- computing in teachers' training

- distance learning methodologies

- electronic networks access

- telematic services

- telecommunications systems in schools settings through e-mail technology

- interactive teaching software

- electronic tutoring

- electronic conferencing

- development of learning technologies in the field of education

- Regularly scheduled programs and activities, sponsored by the Department for Public Education of Geneva, are offered as introduction to the service and its resources - and to new ways to enjoy them !

- The syllabus includes conferences, talks, workshops, up-dating courses, seminars and demonstrations. Most seminars run from 2 to 3 days exploring a variety of subjects such as French or foreign languages teaching, chemistry, physical or biology sciences, NLP, etc... with the help of computers!

Training of Teachers

Initial training of new secondary school teachers includes a number of courses that are held at the Pedagogical Studies for High School Teachers' (Etudes pédagogiques pour l'enseignement secondaire) organised by the Department for Public Education of Geneva (DIP). For primary school teachers, the training in NICTs and CMC is being taken over by the Faculty of Psychology and Pedagogical Sciences of the Geneva University, since the fall of 1996.

Continuing education and professional development of teachers is the task of the C.I.P.; this institution provides the bulk of the training in NICTs in the Canton of Geneva. The global offer for this academic year is constituted by sixty full days of courses, a few dozens of seminars and will manage some six hundred inscriptions to theses activities). It is an integral part of the annual offer in continuing education offered to the entirety of the teaching staff of the Geneva schooling system (elementary, primary, secondary and high-school levels, including professional training institutions, adults' training, etc.). The themes and domains treated by the various seminars and courses is pretty varied (see also the activities organised in the so-called "market-places" of MailBox).

C Some examples taken from the activities of the C.I.P. during the last few months.

- The development of ad hoc communication software to be used by the members of the teaching community called Mailbox (see also the activities organised in the so-called "markets" of Mailbox).

- The operation "4e de couverture" (writing the outside back cover resume of books) to encourage reading skills. It is constituted by pedagogical database made of the contributions of pupils. A specific writing exercise in order to produce the best cover story for a given book, it has the complementary effect of implying actively language teachers (in more than five languages, including Latin), librarians, computer literacy teachers and pupils of all levels. This activity produced some 600 files over six periods during 3 years.

- The operation "Success Stories" on the best use of NICTs in education has brought together many dimensions of learning : pedagogy, teaching, training, socio-cultural and institutional aspects of education in the context of some 300 case-studies in 12 countries in all disciplines and various levels. It has been implemented on a trans-platform basis, and includes a WEB application.

- A prototype database available on the WEB to encourage sharing teaching aids and methods. It aims at a comparative and critical use of exercises, of problem solving activities and illustration of key questions, etc. among teachers. As an initial incentive, the results of the news letters of two users' group (UG) are being used (the Mathematica UG and the Simulation and Modelisations UG).

- An active participation in the CERN's operation organised within the EWSTC (European Week for Science and Technology Culture) framework.

- A pilot project experimenting specific electronic communication management techniques among the members of the teaching community (teachers, teachers' trainers, students, pupils, etc.)

- The setting up of a enquiry on the needs of teachers concerning their use of NICT.

- The setting up of a project on the level of the canton for the academic year 96 called: "Learn to communicate : NICTs as tools for language learning". The target audience is the whole Geneva State teaching community, with the exception of the University.

- The construction of a common syllabus for the setting up of meaningful projects for beginners (both students and teachers) to get them acquainted with the use of CD-ROM technology and WEB access.

- Links with the TEL*LINGUA Project of the G7.

- Links with the TRENDS European Project.

- Reporting and evaluating the courses offered during the past year at the C.I.P..

- Organising the offer in continuing education with NICTs during the academic year 96-97.

D An Overview of TECFA (University of Geneva)

TECFA is an academic unit active in the field of educational technology. It belongs to the School of Psychology and Education ("Faculté de Psychologie et des Sciences de l'Education) of the University of Geneva. It is directed by Professor Patrick Mendelsohn and includes about 12 collaborators. TECFA's research covers a large area of interests, including: cognitive issues in learning technology, applications of artificial intelligence to education, cognitive effects of educational software, computer mediated communication and information systems in education, multimedia courseware, and distance education. Since Fall 1994 TECFA offers a postgraduate diploma (DES) in educational technology ("Sciences et Technologies de l'Apprentissage et de la Formation"), STAF.

E Some recent research and developments at TECFA, during these last few months.

- Primary schools teacher's training and NICTs: As of next October, TECFA will be actively involved in the training of primary school teachers, to introduce them to NITCs and CMC in the context of the Diploma of Pedagogical Studies, organised by the Faculty of Psychology and Education of the University of Geneva. These courses will take the form of hands-on intensive exposure to media tools, CMC and NITCs within a series of value units called "Tools and methods for work and research".

- The STAF Diploma: In the domain of education and training, contemporary society is characterised by the simultaneous emergence of new needs and new communication and information tools to satisfy them. The STAF postgraduate diploma capitalises on recent acquisitions in research and development to help students and trainees to bind together technological solutions with specific cognitive and social needs. Additionally, it aims at promoting an efficient transfer of competence for all actors concerned by developments in NICTs. The professional profile aimed at by this diploma is that of people/students/teachers able to take an active part in the conception and evaluation of training/teaching software and in the use computer mediated communication technologies alike.

- The PNR 33 Project (see also below) : A report on the "Trends of Research in Switzerland in the Domain of Research in NIT in Education and Training" has been produced by TECFA. The domains analysed are research on assessment of training software and specialised education with the help of NITs. This project includes an technological watch on uses and innovation in NITCs. The report includes a series of nine recommendations and guide-lines for the integration of NITCs in education. They include proposals on research being done in the following domains: methodology of software evaluation, uses of NITs in experimental settings, assessment of the impact of NTIs on pedagogy and syllabuses, models of learning and teaching, evolution of teaching practices, computer aided teaching software design, CMC and distance education, introduction of computers in training systems and encouraging synergy between developers and future/potential users of NICTs.

- The AGORA Project: Launched by TECFA and part of a Swiss National Priority Research programme (PNR 33), called "Effectiveness of Swiss Educational Systems", AGORA is a communication server dedicated to researchers in Educational Sciences. Including partners from various public research, training and educational institutions, it offers direct access to information resources and databases usable in teaching or training situations. AGORA also aims at promoting active discussions and sharing of knowledge among teachers and researchers through an effective use of NICT resources. Four basic targets points characterise AGORA: (1) to enhance the coherence of scientific collaboration towards the establishment of stable and long-lasting research paradigms; (2) to become the core of an effective information system in education, based on reliable technology; (3) to offer an opportunity of training at NICTs for the research community; (4) to build tools for an on-going evaluation, both qualitative and quantitative, of academic outputs on the "virtual class-room".

- The TECFAMoo Project: The TECFAMOO (Mud Oriented Object-Programming, a multi-user environment with synchronous communication capabilities) is a text-based virtual reality package. To quote the WEB page : "It is a Virtual Space for Educational Technology, Education, Research and Life". This project has been started as a small informal project in the fall of 1994. Currently , it is being used and developed as a CMC tool for teaching and research purposes.

- Continuing Education: in addition to the STAF Diploma, TECFA is involved in a series of ad hoc courses offered within the Continuing Education Programme of the Geneva University.

- Links with European Projects : HUMANITIES II (Socrates, OFDL Programme), SIGMA, FETICHE and G7, TEL*LINGUA Project.

F At the Swiss National Level

Following 20 years of collaboration and activities among the Cantons within a network of correspondents organised in work-groups under a common co-ordinating structure, the inter-cantonal authority has decided stop this structure and to transfer these activities in the hands of the CTIE (Centre of technologies for information and education) in Bern, with reduced means.

As far as continuing education is concerned, some training is offered by the Swiss Centre of continuing education for secondary school teachers (CPS) in Lucerne; under the supervision of the OFIAMT, the Swiss Federal Office of Industry and Labour in Bern, a broad range of professional training is available, but is not specifically aimed at training with NICTs.

The suppression of the explicit mention of computer literacy and IT courses in the new plan for the Maturity Diploma (end of secondary studies certificate), will certainly disrupt the state of the training offer on a nation-wide level, affecting equipment, training and monitoring of NICTs.

G Reference

Berge, Z. (1995) - "Computer-Mediated Communication and the Online Classroom".

Computer-Mediated Communication Magazine, 2(2), Hampton Press, NJ:Cresskill.

Hiltz, S.R. (1993) - The Virtual Classroom: learning without limits through

computer networks. Norwood, NJ: Ablex Publishing Corporation.

Levy, P. (1994) - L'intelligence collective: pour une anthropologie du

Cyberspace. Paris: Edition La Découverte.

Lloyd, P. (1994) - Groupware in the 21 st century. Computer supported

Cooperative working toward the Millenium. London: Adamantine Press.

Mendelsohn, P. & Jermann, P. (to be published) - La recherche en Suisse dans le

domaine des Nouvelles Technologies de l'Information appliquées à la formation.

Rapport de tendances au FNRS. Berne: PNR33.

Rheingold, P. (1995) - Les communautés virtuelles - Paris: Addison-Wesley.

Internet access:


(1) Compuetr Mediated Communication

(2) New Information and Communication Technologies

Geneva, RM/PDF August 96