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Theme 1

Development of competencies: uses, impacts, and assessment of ICT. This first theme addresses the uses of ICT and their impacts on teaching, learning, and the development of competencies.

Theme 2

Emerging technologies: current, potential, and future issues for education. Compared to Theme 1, Theme 2 covers a broader prospective. It will address the available technological innovations (e.g., Web 2.0, mobile learning, social networks), the potential they offer, and the implications for changing and renewing pedagogical methods.

Theme 3

ICT for teacher training and the teaching profession. Whereas themes 1 and 2 target teaching and learning situations involving ICT, Theme 3 focuses on how ICT contribute to and impact on professional development and teaching conditions.

Theme 4

ICT and education research methods. This final research theme is multidisciplinary. It concerns all researchers, regardless of their disciplinary area.

I n the words of Kofi Annan, speaking at the World Summit on the Information Society, “A technological revolution is transforming society in a profound way. If harnessed and directed properly, information and communication technologies (ICT) have the potential to improve all aspects of our social, economic and cultural life.” They will also have an increasing influence on how all societies evolve, and will significantly affect economic, social, and educational dimensions (Redecker, 2010). For some years now, these far-reaching changes have accelerated with the advent of Web 2.0, which allows Internet surfers to interact with both page content and each other. In social terms, Internet penetration into North American homes was 77.4% in June 2010. At the planetary level, 247 million emails are sent every day, and in 2009 alone, over 90 trillion emails were sent.

At the same time, we learn that the digital divide due to socioeconomic and education differences narrowed from 2007 to 2009 in Canada and abroad. This suggests that Internet use is being democratized. Because they are everywhere, the new technologies spur profound social transformations, even as they respond to them. These transformations will in turn transform the lifestyles of the upcoming generation. Many expressions, such as “digital natives” (McLester, 2007), “new millennium learners,” (OECD, 2008), and “neomillennium learners” (Baird & Fisher, 2006; Dede 2005) have emerged, testifying to the generation gap that has opened due to technological advances and the intense relationship that young people have with technology.

In terms of education, these changes have manifested in new kinds of learners. Redecker’s (2010) literature review reports nine learning patterns that are typical of today’s learners: constant use of technologies; multi-tasking; individualism, personalization; greater connectivity (availability anywhere, anytime); immediacy, use of various media types; engagement and work-oriented attitude; sociability; and new habits to meet new needs (e.g., computer skills to cope with exploding information).

Academic success, which so far has been measured mainly in cognitive terms, appears to be increasingly determined by young people’s technocogntive skills. In other words, they must be able to master the technologies that surround them and use them to learn, instead of merely submitting or reacting to them. In fact, there is every reason to believe that the use of technologies to learn is now a key cross-cutting competency that enables youth to perform better at school, and more broadly speaking, as members of the knowledge society in which we now live. Being able to self-learn, find information, and use technological tools to communicate has become a requisite for successful adaptation to an ever-changing world, and for full participation as a socioprofessional (OECD, 2008). Some governments have understood this well, including the United States, which has proposed “A 21st Century Model of Learning Powered by Technology” (Atkins et al., 2010). Technologies therefore constitute a growing educational imperative. They are changing the way that learners learn, even though education systems have not fully grasped the significance of this, as we have seen.

Despite the vital importance of ICT for socioprofessional life and education, we note that in Quebec, Canada, North America, and Europe, the integration of ICT into education systems continues to face major challenges. Therefore, the main issue in the empirical research on ICT and education is how to effectively and efficiently realize the enormous educational potential of ICT. Furthermore, we tend to believe that this research area is mainly at the exploratory stage. However, given the socioprofessional and educational importance of ICT, the research needs to advance, and quickly. To do this, we need to develop sound, collaborative research programs so that we can organize our efforts in a coherent and complementary manner. Once this need has been addressed, we should be able to structure and energize scientific initiatives on ICT in education.

The organizers of the International Scientific Conference on ICT and Education: Status report, current issues, and future perspectives, will bring the perspectives of scientists, professionals, and other concerned stakeholders to bear on issues of ICT in education, which is a vital direction for the future of our societies. At this Conference, researchers from a wide range of fields will present their findings on how ICT, emerging technologies, and Web 2.0 have contributed and can contribute to education. Presentations will be organized into four distinct but complementary themes:

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