Research

Pedagogical innovations to be explored... online!

The health crisis has turned learning methods upside down. Here is an overview of remarkable initiatives and new pedagogical tools.

The successive lockdowns have led to an unprecedented acceleration of the technological means deployed in Higher Education. At UPPA, the digital emergency plan has resulted, for example, in the installation of some 50 Wi-Fi hotspots, the upgrade to very high-speed Internet access between the University’ s various sites, the distribution of remote connection kits, etc. In addition to technology, the move to distance learning has made it possible to experiment with new hybrid learning methods that have proven to be particularly enriching. Many of these methods are now the subject of in-depth reflection within UPPA, notably within the framework of the Improvement Councils in charge of monitoring, regulating and optimizing educational programs.

New forms of student-teacher interactions


Nicolas Evain
“Of course, not everything is rosy, but distance learning certainly opens up new perspectives, especially in terms of interaction between professors and students,
observes Nicolas Evain, a third-year student majoring in Computer Science in Anglet. A student can share his or her screen with the other participants, ask questions via chat; a teacher can submit an online questionnaire to students via a Wooclap-type application to ensure in real time that they have understood his or her course...”

Valentin Despiau-Pujo, who is also enrolled in the Computer Science program as a third-year student, agrees, especially since the confinement has allowed him to save an hour and a half of driving time each day to get to the Pau campus. “The remote broadcasting of courses also avoids the problems encountered in lecture halls when we are sitting too far away, when we can’t hear the professor or when we are bothered by a glare on the wall screen,” he adds. The two students also highlight the technical feasibility for professors to create private channels and divide students into small virtual groups very easily. “I’ve had the opportunity to use this tool and it’s really ideal for working in small teams, says Nicolas Evain. We are not alone and the professor can join us at any time to discuss with us.”

 

A greater range of resources available online


Valentin Despiau-Pujo
Recording online lessons also offers a significant advantage. This practice is not widespread enough at UPPA, regrets Nicolas Evain. The third-year student is nevertheless convinced that it would be a precious help in learning. As Ernesto Exposito, professor of Computer Science and vice-president of UPPA in charge of International Relations puts it, “It is sometimes difficult to stay focused in front of a screen for several hours at a time. If lessons were recorded, students could study at their own pace, go back over what they didn’t quite understand. Or even prepare for the lessons if the professor makes the video beforehand”. Moreover, the lockdown was an opportunity for the University to allow students to connect remotely via the virtual private network (VPN) of the University via secure tunnels. “Previously, this device was primarily reserved for the staff. It now allows students to keep on working at home even when UPPA is closed; we are moving towards a truly connected campus”, the teacher adds. “Library, resources and servers are increasingly accessible remotely. It’s a new environment that’s opening up to us, Nicolas Evain enthusiastically says. We now have access from home to some of the software and resources we need to use. It’s a great initiative that should be improved!” However, his classmate Valentin Despiau-Pujo has two reservations about extending these new learning tools: “It is crucial that every student has a good Internet connection and adequate equipment beforehand, and above all that the exams be held in person.”