QESBA Blue-ribbon task force reports on Internet in schools: Time for educators, government and media to shift focus from "threat" to "opportunity"

    MONTREAL, June 2 /CNW Telbec/ - A major study into the impact and
potential of the Internet on English public schools in Quebec has called on
educators, government and the media to shift the focus from "threat" to
opportunity". The Quebec English School Boards Association (QESBA)
commissioned the report, produced by a blue-ribbon task force of outside
experts, Internet practitioners, health practitioners, students and
law-enforcement officials. The Task Force was chaired by Dr. Claude
Lajeunesse, President and CEO of the Aerospace Industries Association of
Canada and former President of Concordia and Ryerson Universities and
benefited from the active participation of Dr. Shaheen Shariff, one of
Canada's recognized experts on cyber-bullying.
    The report, entitled Towards Empowerment, Respect and Accountability,
includes results from a survey of some 1,000 students, parents and teachers
from QESBA's nine member boards as well as a review of pertinent studies and
research on attitudes and impact of information technologies on youth and
education. The Task Force met five times over its seven-month mandate and
concluded that, "There is a pressing need for educational and transformative
approaches and preventative practices to more fully engage students..." in
responsible and constructive Internet use. Based on its deliberations, the
Task Force proposed the following seven recommendations to QESBA and its
member school boards:

    - Educate and involve community partners in responsible and informed
      Internet use

    - Initiate and support programs and materials to integrate Internet use
      effectively in teaching and learning practices

    - Contribute to enhanced public awareness of key Internet issues

    - Develop and adapt clear and pertinent policies on Internet use

    - Undertake necessary measures to ensure safety and security

    - Institute training of teachers and other school personnel in
      information literacy

    - Encourage the Ministry of Education, Recreation and Sport (MELS) to
      actively recognize and respond to the impact of new technologies.

    The report advises QESBA to review and evaluate how it has addressed the
report's recommendation two years from now.
    Debbie Horrocks, QESBA president, noted that the association would be
establishing a working committee to assess the report and work with its member
boards towards the implementation of its recommendations. "QESBA was proud to
create this task force last summer, with a view to getting the best advice
possible on an emerging challenge for educators, for all of Quebec society,"
she noted. "Our member school boards, their directors general, administrators,
teachers and parents are making strides in integrating new technologies in the
classroom, and working to address any abuses swiftly and effectively. But the
world is changing, and we don't presume to have all the answers. So, QESBA was
pleased to seek the best advice we could get from leaders and experts beyond
our network. We are grateful to Dr.Lajeunesse and all of the members of the
Task Force for this valuable and thought-provoking report."

    The full report can be viewed on-line at www.qesba.qc.ca.

    The members of the QESBA Task Force were: Marie Anna Bacchi, Nirmala
Bains, Peter Côté, Capt. Frédérick Gaudreau, Dr. Jaswant Guzder, Dr. Claude
Lajeunesse (Chair), Robert Libman, Elias Makos, Cathy McKeogh, Cathy Nguli,
Howard Shapiro, Dr. Shaheen Shariff and Renée Sutton. Ex-Officio members:
Debbie Horrocks, QESBA President, Rosemary Murphy, QESBA Board member, Ronald
Canuel, President of the Association of Directors General of the English
School Boards of Quebec and Director General of the Eastern Townships School
Board and Antonio Lacroce, Director General of the English Montreal School
Board. Andrew Churchill, McGill University doctoral student, is the Task Force

For further information:

For further information: Kimberley Hamilton, Communications and Special
Projects Coordinator, (514) 849-5900 ext 225, (514) 919-3894 (cell)

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Quebec English School Boards Association

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