Online campus and virtual reality: the school of the future has arrived

These pedagogical novelties had been in the making for a long time; the health crisis has given them a big boost. Synchronous distance courses (the whole class connects at the same time) or asynchronous (each student connects according to their own pace and constraints) have become daily. Even back in person, a whole section of the training will now be done online, to varying degrees.

Virtual reality is coming

But the innovation goes further. GEM (Grenoble School of Management) has thus laid the first stone of its virtual campus, which will open at the end of 2022. Students will find courses, school services, associations, conferences… But there is no question of sinking in the gadget: “We too often imagine a virtual campus as a game with

avatars laid flat on a screen. However, this does not bring anything in terms of pedagogy”, warns Pedro Abrantes, director of the virtual campus of GEM. On this tool, students will have access to microlearning (short course sequences given in video or other formats) and accompanied learning paths. From a distance, yes, but, underlines the director, “we check that you are progressing well and we can finely analyze your progress”.

1.3

€bn

this is the record turnover of the EdTechs (educational technologies) sector in 2021.

EY-Parthenon/EdTech France/Banque des Territoires, 2022

Virtual reality (VR) is also set to gain in importance. “The interest of immersion in VR is to create emotion and to touch the reality of a professional situation”, describes Pedro Abrantes. A student can thus find himself in the position of a salesman in the middle of a negotiation, an HRD in a crisis situation, an entrepreneur… “This gives incredible lessons, with indisputable results in terms of memorization”, he observes.

Quality first

As for holograms, sooner or later they will enter the classroom. “We are not yet satisfied with the technology and it is not conceivable that a course is constrained by the quality of a tool”, he explains. Caution, therefore, or rather patience. “We were already on “Second Life” in 2005 (one of the first virtual worlds). But to reach the current maturity, a lot has happened!”, recalls Olivier Lamirault, director of educational technologies at EM Normandie.

The most spectacular are the advances in neuropedagogy, a discipline that studies the reactions of our brain in a learning situation. “It is also the ability to manage masses of data to achieve personalization of lessons,” adds this EdTech expert, sitting in a room with red tones and surrounded by VR boxes and connected screens. “The classroom is shattered. The teacher can build his teaching by mobilizing the tools he wishes. We are at his side to do so,” he explains.

In fact, the question for EM Normandie is no longer how many seats a room has, but the time zone in which the students are located. “At more or less six hours compared to France, it’s good,” says Olivier Lamirault.

“New horizons in pedagogy”

Testimony of Delphine Manceau, CEO of Neoma BS

How does your school approach these new educational tools?

The health crisis has shown us how irreplaceable face-to-face is for creating links, group dynamics and a real student experience. At the same time, we cannot ignore pedagogical methods that open up new horizons for us in terms of pedagogy. It is up to us to explore and combine them to get the best out of them.

What mix of face-to-face and remote do you advocate?

Let’s not oppose the two, because each modality can bring value to a lesson. That said, remote work has become a reality in companies, and therefore a criterion for the employability of our students. At Neoma, we believe that the youngest need more presence, with a maximum of 20% distance, a proportion that will increase as they mature.

What innovation do you find promising?

Pedagogical innovation is not necessarily digital! For example, we have launched “peer to peer learning” in which a student is mentored by another, older one. There, it is not a question of a tool but of mobilizing collective intelligence and social ties in the service of learning. Similarly, a profound work is done on the scripting: we no longer conceive of a course as a block of ten sessions, but a rhythmic succession of complementary sequences. These can integrate digital tools, or not. The teacher has all the options.

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Online campus and virtual reality: the school of the future has arrived


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