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A play on the words professor and technology, PROF&TIC is like a central Internet address that links together a slew of web sites of potential interest to educators of various disciplines.
Surfing for pedagogical resources and technological facts off the Internet has become a whole lot simpler for university educators. Just last week, a new Quebec-based web site called PROF&TIC was launched to facilitate searches for academic information and to stimulate the use of technology in classrooms.
A play on the words professor and technology, PROF&TIC is like a central Internet address that links together a slew of web sites of potential interest to educators of various disciplines. Type in a few keywords and the site will locate everything from where to find self-instruction and training modules to lists of professional associations and styleguides.
Since it was created by the Conférence des recteurs et des principaux des universités du Québec (CREPUQ), the bilingual PROF&TIC is linked to the web sites of every Quebec university, as well. "PROF&TIC was created to pool together the resources of these institutions, while allowing the university community to know what's occurring at other institutions," says Professor Laura Winer, from the Centre for University Teaching and Learning, a member of PROF&TIC's editorial committee.
"PROF&TIC is a Canadian first," she adds, "since it's the only web site across the country that professors can visit to obtain the information they need in one central place."
In the past, a professor could easily spend hours navigating through a maze of web sites just to locate the perfect image needed to illustrate a lecture, for example. But not anymore, says Winer, since PROF&TIC includes an inventory of images and soundbites that are perfect for all circumstances.
Visits to PROF&TIC can also be exceptionally useful for professors looking for research funds, says Winer. "PROF&TIC is linked to as many research and development sites as there [are]. Which means professors can locate funding sources that they never knew about."
Officially launched on September 26, PROF&TIC had been in the works for about two years. The site was born out of a $150,000 grant from the provincial government, which hopes PROF&TIC will foster more exchanges of information between Quebec's universities.
"The idea is that information will be shared by bigger universities, like McGill, with the province's smaller universities," says Robert Thivierge, co-ordinator of the PROF&TIC project. "This way, all Quebec universities will advance at the same technological pace, since each will be able to learn from the expertise of the others."
One of the ways in which universities will learn from one another is through PROF&TIC's editorial content, which will keep professors abreast of new initiatives at their sister institutions. Indeed, a part-time journalist will soon be hired to write news bulletins. "And that information will be regularly updated and fresh," says Winer.
To do so, the journalist will sift through university publications and a series of other sources to uncover news on the technological scene and its changes that academics should be informed about. One news item included this week, for instance, was on Vice-Principal (Information Systems and Technology) Bruce Pennycook's departure from McGill. "It is our reporter's job to narrowcast information that's already available to our target audience," says Thivierge, "that might be otherwise buried amid a multitude of other items."
The site will eventually distribute news through a weekly or biweekly newsletter, too, that professors will be able to subscribe to via e-mail, which will allow academics to stay in tune with the latest news even if they don't have time to visit PROF&TIC every week.
Because PROF&TIC is still in its infancy, however, Thivierge can't pinpoint exactly when the newsletter will debut. That all depends on how much extra money the provincial government allocates to the site in the near future.
While countless professors are expected to use PROF&TIC over the coming years, Winer hopes academics visit the site as soon as possible so it can best reflect their needs. "We encourage people to offer comments and suggestions," she says, "and that they pass along any information they feel is missing from the web site."
The site is located at www.profetic.org