The previous government’s promises on digital education in schools left us all thinking that by 2019, France would be at the forefront of digital education. Whether it’s digital learning or the technological means made available to schools, colleges and high schools. Where are we now?
An unfinished digital plan
Do you remember the digital plan at school, dear to François Hollande? As a reminder, the digital plan has been gradually rolled out since the start of the 2015 school year, so that French youth can enter the digital world once and for all. This plan promised a budget of one billion euros (over 3 years).
The plan aimed to have 100% of middle school students equipped with a tablet or a computer by 2018.
In short, rather than dedicating entire rooms to computers, the goal was to provide a computer or tablet to every student. Of course, this plan was aimed at other things, including the provision of resources, which you can find on the national education website.
But making digital technology accessible to every child was the mainstay of this project. Only, there was not the general enthusiasm hoped for: the burden was shared between the state and the communities. It is therefore understandable that the cities, departments and regions did not jump without thinking into this plan and that it therefore fell behind schedule.
It is difficult to have precise numerical figures on a national scale. In 2018, in Brittany, only 50% of students are equipped with a terminal. We are therefore far from 100%.
Since then, the government has changed and it is clear that the digital plan is no longer the priority. Indeed, no mention of educational digital is made in the 2018 finance law, nor in the 2019 finance bill.
The real digital challenges for schools
Making plans on a national scale is all well and good on the surface: we’re talking about fibre optics, providing a tablet for every student, resources available online, 24/7. All this would lead us to believe that the only challenge for national digital education is to enter the 21st century. But on the ground, what do we think?
You only need to look at the news for a few minutes to realize that IT in schools is not yet that.
How can we move forward to move backwards?
Summer 2019, Villejuif in the Paris region: the city is modernizing the IT equipment of 14 school groups. Excellent news: brand new computers, which will be faster and more secure. However, this renewal of the computer population has been a little too rapid. In fact, little or no remote storage is available to staff, and so data is stored locally on the computers.
You guessed it: the old PCs are gone, with all their data, we don’t know where … No USB key, no device has been made available to staff to make backups. On some workstations, almost 10 years of archives have been lost.
The teachers fought to recover their data, which turned out to be an ordeal. In addition, the newly deployed PCs did not allow access to external mailboxes (Gmail, Outlook, Yahoo, …), thus preventing the recovery of some files that were stored on the teachers’ personal mailboxes. The waste of time was enormous. Worse still, the school doctor of Villejuif had to stop practicing because he no longer had access to the students’ history.
Paper in the computer room?
Not far from Villejuif, in Villeneuve-Saint-Georges, teachers at the Arago high school went on strike last month to denounce the dilapidated state of the computer park. No access to the digital workspace for new students and teachers at the school because no access is allocated to them. Printers, video projectors and servers down, obsolete computers … As far as we can tell, at Arago High School, we are far from worrying about fiber optics.
The result: teachers exhausted from wasting time, who are asked to work with digital but are not given the means to do so. Above all, the students are the big losers: “Often, in class, it bugs with the computers. Our teachers are forced to improvise, they go and print and photocopy sheets, they manage…”, testify two high school students.
Institutions in cyber-danger
At the software level, some schools are proving to be in danger: “Agents just finished the migration from Windows XP to Windows 7 last week,” said a teacher a few weeks ago. As a reminder, Windows XP is no longer supported by Microsoft since 2015, Windows 7 will no longer be supported from January 2020. This poses serious security issues for these schools and student data.
All in all, France is far from being exemplary when it comes to digital education in schools. Even if everyone agrees that the ideas are there, in reality, the human and material resources are cruelly lacking.
So how can we do more with less?
As a reminder, the aim of the digital plan was to provide each middle school student with a computer device: tablet or PC. In the end, it is the communities that choose and many did not find it relevant to provide an individual tool.
Indeed, several departments tested individual equipment and were not convinced. They switched to mobile classroom formats, whether tablets or computers. A solution that proves to be radically more economical and above all much more reasonable. Students no longer need to travel to use the computer tool, it comes to them!
Beyond the logistical aspect, the choice of equipment must be chosen intelligently. It must be :
- Centrally manageable.
This is typically what the ceBox® solution developed by Wisper allows.
Firstly, computers must guarantee the security of student and teacher data. Schools can be the target of cyber attacks. ceBox®, via its read-only mode, allows to guarantee the security of the workstations: in case of ransomware, a simple reboot cleans the PC.
In addition, ceBox® enables the entire computer park to be updated in a few clicks, ensuring that each workstation has the latest security updates for operating systems and software as quickly as possible.
Second, computers must be scalable. Indeed, the needs of students and teachers will evolve, rapidly, new subjects arrive every year or so. For example, teaching computer development requires continuous updates. Computers must be able to evolve, both in software and hardware.
Tablets, for example, are proving to be a bad idea, as they are not suitable for “coding”! ceBox® is available on fixed workstations (Intel NUC) as well as on laptops. This type of hardware is suitable for all purposes. At the software level, it is possible to integrate both a Microsoft OS and a Linux OS on the workstations. Thus, a class can work on Windows 10 in the morning and another on Ubuntu in the afternoon.
Thirdly, the workstations must be centrally manageable. As we have seen, it is hardly possible for each school to have a dedicated IT technician in the school. ceBox® is a solution that can be managed remotely.
It is therefore possible for the IT department of the town hall, department or region to migrate a school from Windows 7 to Windows 10 remotely. It is possible for the IT department to make a new software available to a teacher in a few minutes without having to travel.
Thanks to these numerous qualities, the ceBox® solution proves to be economical for educational institutions, because it offers sustainable performance over time, avoids the cost of a cyber attack, does not require more human resources to ensure the durability and scalability of the park.
> Download our sheet: ceBox® for education to better understand what ceBox® can bring to schools, colleges, high schools and universities. <
Why not discover the various benefits of the ceBox® solution?Digital: how to do better with less in education?