Originally, this introductory programming course was to take place like all the others. One hour of lectures to give the theoretical bases to the 150 students of the class, followed by two hours of group work. After the closure of French schools, colleges, high schools and universities announced by the Government on March 12 and effective since March 16, the management of the Mines of Nancy had, like all French engineering schools, to adapt to ensure this initiation in full containment.
Bart Lamiroy, senior lecturer in the school's IT department, held this course on Friday March 20 through screens. “The theoretical part was done live on Youtube, with the possibility for students to interact by chat if they have questions ”clarifies the teacher-researcher. The TD part took place on the Discord platform, where the students divided up into groups of about twenty in the different software “lounges” and talked through a voice chat. “The teacher could go from one living room to another and share his screen on video to refer them in case of difficulty”, adds Bart Lamiroy.
Quick adaptation of students
Since they closed their doors on March 16, engineering schools have ensured educational continuity and are confronted with these situations on a daily basis. Philippe Chargé, director of education at Polytech Nantes, tells us that the timetables for his school have been kept as they are. “Some courses are in the form of a chat or video in synchronism and others in asynchronous on the principle of reverse class, with a work to prepare for the next day.”
The main difficulty concerns practical work, which is impossible to carry out without teachers and students accessing the dedicated rooms on campus. “We have all TD during this period at a distance and the TP have been postponed to a later date which will depend on the confinement and the reopening of the school”, sheds light on Guillaume Le Bourgeois, first-year student delegate at the EBI.
For most students, although strange at first, this virtual transition works and does not make it difficult to understand the curriculum. “The teachers are listening and the interaction is good”, says Emma Verger, a student at ESME Sudria in Lyon. An opinion shared by Louis, in his first year at Centrale Nantes, which specifies that “The teachers are not all on the same level with the tools used.”
Reflection of the digital divide
However, a black spot emerges from these distance courses, as teachers and students have told us. “Sometimes it's hard to hear people who have connection or microphone issues”, notes Guillaume Le Bourgeois of EBI. A digital divide also identified on the side of the Mines of Nancy and Polytech Nantes, where the teaching team is currently working on solutions for these students betrayed by the quality of their IT equipment. “We could record the courses and transfer them, or then join them by phone”, considers Philippe Chargé. One more puzzle for schools on the alert for 15 days.