Faced with the coronavirus crisis and the closure of their campus, some business schools are deploying their training online. A pedagogy that is sometimes more effective than classroom lessons.
Of course, Benoît Arnaud is not to be delighted. But the director of Edhec Online, the department responsible for developing distance learning in the Lille business school, is convinced that the coronavirus crisis will shake up the edtech sector. Or more precisely to take off the use of digital in education. “This crisis will allow us to learn a lot and progress in digital education. In particular, in terms of lifelong learning. The whole planet will go online,” he said on Thursday 13 March, during the presentation of the business school development plan for the next five years.
Classes bringing together students from all over the world
Already, thanks to blended learning which alternates classroom lessons and Internet sessions, business schools have become more familiar with distance education. They not only have technical tools like BlackBoard and Canvas, two e-learning solutions, but also many educational modules. Catalogs that they offer today with online professional training. E-learning, in fact, offers a learning mode suitable for students who can connect at any time – and any place – to train in accounting, for example, or improve their English . In addition, thanks to the so-called synchronous training, teachers can teach their course by videoconference in front of people based in France, but also in China, Africa, or America. Skema, which has six campuses around the world, has been practicing this simulcast for several years now.
Teachers trained to run distance learning courses
On the Edhec side, the objective is to train 1,000 online students per year by 2025, or 10% of the total enrollment. The coronavirus crisis, and the closure of higher education institutions, could accelerate this development. “We have been preparing for several weeks, says Benoît Arnaud. On the one hand, with our suppliers to test our internet connections. On the other hand, with our teachers so that they are ready.” In recent days, 150 of them have undergone specific training to learn how to run a virtual class. As for students, they only need to connect to the intranet, called MyEdhec, to follow a course session remotely. “We are able to launch 50 virtual classes at the same time with up to 80 students each,” said the director of Edhec Online.
Stronger student involvement than in class
Contrary to what one might think, students are much more involved when working remotely. “Everyone has a window open on the screen which allows the teacher to see who is actually present and active.” In addition, the relationships between participants extend well beyond the course, through online chats and email exchanges. Likewise, group projects are carried out by students from all over the world. “An online class lives all the time, underlines Benoît Arnaud. It remains active outside of class. When a student does not understand a concept or needs help, for example, he can ask his comrades for anything moment.” The director of Edhec Online calls this “micro-learning”. Even the prospect of end-of-year checks does not scare him. “We know how to administer exams remotely using software such as Proctorio, used by Harvard.” For him, no doubt, “the revolution is edtechs is underway”.