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Digital, poor relation of Education?

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Digital, poor relation of Education?

Students studying with digital tablets in France Dufour

It is now a ritual for thirty years at the Ministry of Education: at each change of majority or reshuffle, the new Minister announced a numerically large scale.

Remember: in 1985, Prime Minister Laurent Fabius announced "Computer for all" plan that aimed to equip 50,000 schools with computers, at a cost of a billion and a half francs.

While young people are increasingly connected and use systematically to Wikipedia or educational applications available on the App store, reintegrate these uses in academic education makes sense. State side, equip broadband in schools is a first and necessary step: but is it enough? The central issue in digital is indeed that of the use, not the deployment.

Where are we?

Other countries have launched educational initiatives involving digital, whose results are already tangible. It is interesting to note that many developing countries have accelerated the development of the digital school, to overcome the weakness of physical infrastructure and teacher absenteeism. In Kenya, the start-up M-Pesa has developed a series of edutainment apps mixing songs, tutorials, exercises, courses, accessible from a tablet. 30% of schools are already equipped.

What goals?

Digital itself is only of interest if it is integrated into a clear vision of its objectives and teaching methods to use. Thus, one of the obvious advantages of digital is the ability to open up isolated areas and break the digital divide. Another use could be applied to digital dropouts: while many college students come in 6th without master many basic, offer them remote tutoring or via applications enable them to train at their own pace and catch up.

Finally, the digital allows promote new skills like learning the code, which corresponds to a profound change in society, a need of our economy and another way to structure their thoughts.

What role for the private sector?

But digital school is also a big business. Large IT companies await orders for tablets and software. Microsoft, Apple, Google, IBM, HP have all developed education and attempt to seduce governments and massive orders. However, it is the hardware equipment necessarily the priority? Jérôme Serre, founder of EduPad, a company editing educational applications used by 2 million students in the world, "a massive investment plan materials that would be obsolete before being distributed is not necessarily the most effective way to invest public money. An alternative approach type BYOD ("Bring Your Own Device"), where families finance the purchase of equipment, with co-funding by the community could be much more efficient, and would invest more in content and support for teachers. "

Indeed, given a tablet to all students in France has meaning only if they use them to learn and the teachers see it as an interest.

Hardware vs applications

The logic hardware of digital plans in education thus largely ignored the issue of use. While the Web is precisely the reign of use and the ability of each person to choose the service that it considers advisable, enter a closed system, closed publishers to third party content would be close to innovations from the company Civil and maintain a partitioned system out of step with contemporary uses. In order to truly expand the use of digital technology in schools and student ownership, shop educational applications in which the teachers come pick would be a good initiative. The state has launched Eduthèque, a portal aggregating resources with no real editorial or practical advice as to their classroom implementation.

How to integrate teachers?

The digital issue can not be raised without the teachers. What is to equip interactive whiteboard schools or applications for smartphones if teachers do not see the point and worse, consider these tools as enemies to be able to run their "steal" their work?

Train teachers to digital tools is the first step to successful digital deployment. But valuing faculty initiatives, their ability to innovate, invent teaching methods using tools they like to use is not in the highly hierarchical and Jacobin tradition of National Education. The lack of autonomy of teachers and the lack of value of their initiatives can only curb the use of digital technology.

Change the procurement process and empower teachers

Finally, the development of digital technology is held back by the institutions. Following the decentralization laws, the general councils were assigned the management of colleges including the purchase of equipment. Regional councils, colleges. This disconnect between the educational content (which is in the bosom of the state) and operational management (local) has she sense? Does there not a risk of finding Kafkaesque situations or a service offered in college will not be usable at local high school because the technical specifications or the supplier have been different?

Harmonize procurement procedures, make them more readable and closer to the ground is a necessity for the 2.0 classrooms are not as computer rows and shelves useless.

Students and teachers must be at the heart of this process of change management to digital, without which the successive plans do not permeate teaching practices.

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