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The Back-to-School Challenge: 700 students involved in using digital technology mindfully.

Défi de la rentrée : 700 étudiants engagés dans le numérique raisonné
Published on
12 September 2021

Since 2018, the Back-to-School Challenge has been the flagship event at the beginning of the year for the 700 first-year students in GEM's Grande Ecole Program.  Between September 13 and 23, 2021, these students took on the role of "early influencers" ready to spot, promote, and follow new trends that are emerging in the digital world. Focus.

By adopting the central theme of "Using Digital Technology Mindfully", this Back-to-School Challenge aimed to explore the links between technology and society by examining digital technology, its uses, and its impacts. Indeed, the digital revolution is driving many debates around the four major current issues: the environment, ethics, confidentiality, and data security.

"The French phrase "numérique raisonné" (using digital technology mindfully), is not widely used. It implies taking a step back from digital technology and thinking about the ways in which information and communication technologies are used as well as their impacts. In more concrete terms, it's about finding a balance when making choices (both in your personal life and in as part of a community, within an organization, etc.) with the goal of being innovative and making progress in society", explains Lionel Strub who is in charge of the Back-to-School Challenge module and a professor at GEM.

Beyond that, "The Back-to-School Challenge creates an educational break for the 700 students through an immersive, thought-provoking, and engaging experience, and provides a way to get to know the School and its status as a société à mission . Together, they dive straight into GEM's unique academic and research environment."

Six topics and 19 controversial questions

The theme of using digital technology mindfully was broken down into six topics: health and well-being; smart building; mobility; hybrid working; urban spaces, and the customer experience. "These topics were developed through 19 controversial questions which we established alongside our partner IRT Nanoelec. In teams, the students delved further into these questions and then went on to tackle them. Here's an example: for the topic of mobility, one of the controversial questions was: "Delivery drones: the promise of an optimized service or the invisible takeover of the IoT?"

The students were invited to take on the work and role of an "early influencer" encouraging them to think about their future responsibilities as managers. Their work aimed to design initiatives to help raise awareness, incite action, or inspire others regarding the uses of digital technology. (see box). Their work will be presented at the closing ceremony on September 23 - the challenge's grand finale. This work includes: an infographic and podcast created for the initiative, a website mapping out some of the controversial questions, as well as a their profiles as early influencers. GEM partners will then take on the proposed initiatives as part of their own real projects.

Raising awareness and helping to create digital cultures which are both appealing and responsible was what the 2021 Back-to-School Challenge aimed to achieve. "One of the goals is that from the very first days of the new academic year, students are already learning to work in a collective environment by working in teams on collaborative learning projects" concludes Lionel Strub.

What is an "Early Influencer"?

"The idea of an "early influencer" is based on the social dynamics that impact how innovations are adopted. It refers to somebody with a skill set that allows them to identify, analyze, and embody developments in society or in technology that are likely to become mainstream. People with this skill set are highly sought after by companies for their ability to detect so-called "weak" signals in an area of business," explains Delphine Gatti-Urweiller, Head of Innovation Programs at GEM Labs. "The approach based on a series of controversial questions also allows students to develop skills and abilities by reflecting critically on social issues and putting these into perspective. Throughout their practical university career, students will learn about the complexities of contemporary issues and tackle them by developing initiatives."

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    Innovation is at the heart of business growth, in particular for dynamic sectors such as the high tech industry. To encourage radical innovation, it’s essential to integrate a future-oriented search and analysis process throughout an innovation...

  • Quand la réalité virtuelle entre dans le bloc opératoire
    Published on 21 June 2019

    Virtual reality to enter the operating room

    The age of virtual reality is upon us and with it, new approaches to education. Thanks to its immersive environment, virtual reality offers a unique opportunity for training in at-risk environments such as hospital operating rooms.

  • simulation-based medical tool
    Published on 09 April 2019

    Virtual reality: training medical students on infection control

    Grenoble Ecole de Management, University Grenoble Alpes, Imperial College London and Heidelberg University have partnered with the start-up Simango to deliver the first virtual reality training on infection control in operating rooms.

  • Comment gagner en valeur en co-créant avec ses clients ?
    Published on 15 April 2019

    How to increase value by co-creating with customers?

    Co-creating new services and products with customers enables companies to better match customer expectations and increase the success of their offers. With the advent of digital technology, the co-creation process has become all the more accessible...

  • Published on 25 March 2019

    Digital jobs: leading by example

    With two women in charge of its big data and information systems programs, Grenoble Ecole de Management seeks to lead by example and help break down barriers to women in the digital sector.

  • Open innovation: the key to staying ahead of the game
    Published on 11 March 2019

    Open innovation: the key to staying ahead of the game

    Over the past 20 years, the pace of technological development has skyrocketed. To stay competitive, companies have to innovate efficiently and quickly bring new products or services to market. Open innovation offers a vision that can increase the...

  • Les femmes et les métiers du numérique
    Published on 25 February 2019

    Women in a digital world

    The Grenoble Business Review continues its series on women in the digital world. We speak with Charlotte and Jalila, both of whom entered and found their place in a digital world often perceived as being open only to men.

  • Federico Pigni a propos de Digital Twins dans une interview accordée au canal Xerfi.
    Published on 14 February 2019

    Why are Digital Twins becoming a business imperative?

    What are these custom and very specific types of virtual simulations and how can they open up a multitude of new opportunities for us?

  • Published on 24 January 2019

    Women and digital jobs: a love-hate affaire?

    The digital sector is booming, yet only 16% of technical jobs are filled by women. As a recent graduate of GEM’s Advanced Master’s in Big Data, Zineb Bennis shares her positive experience in the world of data science.

  • 21 jours pour innover : une mission pas impossible
    Published on 21 December 2018

    21 days to innovate: a serious game to improve innovation!

    It takes 21 days to change a habit. What if a serious game could change our innovation habits in 21 days?

  • Grenoble Ecole de Management étaye son offre de services corporate
    Published on 23 November 2018

    GEM: a catalyst for innovation

    Serious games, the first-year challenge, research chairs, a business lab… Innovation is at the heart of Grenoble Ecole de Management. The school offers students, researchers and businesses an environment to foster creativity and collaboration.

  • Le Parcours TechBiz manage l’innovation des entreprises technologiques
    Published on 22 October 2018

    TechBiz: innovation management for tech companies

    Is your tech company looking to improve its market strategy? TechBiz offers a unique opportunity to collaborate with motivated and specialized students. Under the supervision of an experienced mentor, the students will offer an in-depth analysis of...

  • Published on 06 December 2018

    Serious game online: 15 min a day to make innovation a routine

    Grenoble Ecole de Management's new serious game « 21 days, The Innovation Quest » has been awarded the Silver Award in the Cultivating Curiosity category of Re-imagine Education, the international competition rewarding educational innovative...

  • Published on 10 July 2018

    Entrepreneurship, with or without innovation

    Two graduates from our MSc Innovation, Strategy and Entrepreneurship program share two completely different experiences as entrepreneurs. Their stories emphasize the need for new business founders to be able to solve problems, and to seize...

  • les fondamentaux pour bien gérer son marketing personnel.
    Published on 12 July 2018

    The fundamentals of personal marketing

    Successful personal marketing is an art. How can you go beyond compulsive tweeting or an excessive use of social networks in order to create a solid strategy to build and maintain your e-reputation?

  • David Gotteland est professeur de marketing à Grenoble Ecole de Management
    Published on 21 June 2018

    How Can You Create a Reliable Innovation Process?

    Formatted, creative methods with a framework enable scientifically proven increases in innovation processes. The stakes are high as only 15% of innovative ideas at a company end up as financial and commercial successes.

  • Chirag Patel et Christophe Haon
    Published on 18 May 2018

    Research: Retail Website Performance, to Outsource or not to Outsource?

    To improve sales, retail websites focus on personalizing their web pages and increasing their influence on social networks. To achieve these goals, should they rely on internal resources or call on external service providers? A study of 105 U.S....

  • Pourquoi les DRH doivent-elles se saisir du digital ?
    Published on 26 March 2018

    Why Is the Digital Revolution Essential for HR?

    The digital revolution is impacting all areas of business. While HR are particularly affected by this change, it’s an opportunity for them to focus their efforts on the “employee experience”.

  • paiement mobile
    Published on 26 March 2018

    How to Encourage User Adoption of Mobile Payment Options?

    Despite the convenience of mobile payment technology, customer adoption of this new technology is not a given. How can companies build on previous internet experience to facilitate this transition?

  • Must the U.S. Lead the Digital Revolution?
    Published on 22 February 2018

    Must the U.S. Lead the Digital Revolution?

    As the digital revolution unfolds, the U.S. and Silicon Valley have so far led the march. What role can Europe play in this major evolution?

  • Published on 18 January 2018

    Technology Sourcing: How to Optimize Web Performance?

    To increase the performance of retail websites, companies should explore both internal tech development and outsourced tech services. New research confirms the advantage of mixing technology sources.

  • Les conditions licites de la cybersurveillance du salarié
    Published on 25 January 2018

    Workplace Cyber Surveillance: Rights and Obligations

    Can a business spy on its employees? Yes, within certain limits. Discover how European courts regulate workplace cyber surveillance.

  • Les conditions licites de la cybersurveillance du salarié
    Published on 25 January 2018

    Cybersurveillance : Quels droits et obligations pour l’employeur (et réciproquement) ?

    La Cour européenne des droits de l’homme impose des limites au contrôle des communications électroniques par l’employeur, qui reste régi par chaque Etat membre.

  • Published on 19 December 2017

    Design Thinking: Generating Pragmatic Ideas

    Design thinking is the art of finding unexpected solutions. How can we encourage this creative process?

  • Caroline Cuny, GEM
    Published on 14 December 2017

    Going Digital to Improve In-Store Customer Relations

    How can digital technology help companies improve a customer’s shopping experience? We look at emerging trends such as artificial intelligence, facial recognition and olfactive marketing.

  • Erno TORNIKOSKI is a Professor in Entrepreneurship at Grenoble Ecole de Management.
    Published on 28 September 2017

    Research: Entrepreneurship, understanding Technology-Based Competitive Advantage

    Policy-makers, researchers and entrepreneurs generally agree that R...

  • Erno TORNIKOSKI is a Professor in Entrepreneurship at Grenoble Ecole de Management.
    Published on 28 September 2017

    Recherche : Entrepreneuriat, comment la technologie peut devenir un avantage concurrentiel

    Décideurs, chercheurs et entrepreneurs conviennent facilement que la R...

  • Adrien Barthel (GEM ESC 2010) crée un French Tech à Singapour
    Published on 03 July 2017

    Creating a French Tech in Singapore

    French Tech goes to Singapore, a hub for technology and innovation in Southeast Asia.

  • Published on 17 June 2017

    Nanovalor: a Platform to Evaluate the Value of New Tech

    Emerging technology can impact society and the economy in a variety of ways. Nanovalor creates a platform to analyze and learn about the value of new tech.

  • Une quarantaine de collaborateurs Ubisoft en France sont issus de Grenoble Ecole de Management
    Published on 15 May 2017

    Recruitment: How Does Ubisoft Rely on Its Alumni Employees?

    Alumni from various schools can be a precious asset for companies to build connections with potential recruits.

  • Cybersécurité : prévenir les risques spécifiques aux TPE/PME
    Published on 17 May 2017

    Cybersecurity: the Challenge for SMEs

    SMEs are a prime target for cybercriminals. Training remains the best defense against such threats.

  • research on Contextual Television Advertising
    Published on 28 February 2017

    Research: Questioning the Effectiveness of Contextual Television Advertising

    As businesses and marketing go digital, companies have to track the effectiveness of their advertising across many channels. The growth of online transactions has made website conversions an essential factor for many businesses. Thanks to detailed...

  • research on Contextual Television Advertising
    Published on 28 February 2017

    Recherche : Quelle efficacité pour la publicité contextuelle à la télévision ?

    Du fait de la digitalisation de leurs activités économiques et marketing, les entreprises se préoccupent de plus en plus de l’efficacité de leurs campagnes publicitaires. Le taux de conversion, mesuré comme le nombre de transactions en ligne par...

  • Comment Starzik s’est imposé face aux GAFA
    Published on 18 March 2017

    Pédagogie : Starzik témoigne de sa stratégie face aux géants du web

    Jérôme Giachino, fondateur de Starzik, a témoigné à Grenoble Ecole de Management d’une problématique d’innovation de rupture : la digitalisation et le téléchargement légal de la musique.

  • Crowdfunding: research shows uniqueness and differentiation are key.
    Published on 20 November 2016

    Research: When Selling a New Idea, Differentiation Beats Transparency

    If you would like to raise funds for a project using crowdfunding, recent research highlights that it is better to underline what makes your idea unique rather than emphasize transparency and a multitude of explanations. This conclusion is the...

  • Comment se prémunir de l’infobésité
    Published on 10 January 2017

    How to Avoid an Information Overload?

    You cannot multi-task. Prioritizing is the key to efficiency.

  • Comment se prémunir de l’infobésité
    Published on 10 January 2017

    Infobésité : comment s'en prémunir ?

    La surcharge d’informations numériques appauvrit notre mental, nous exposant au burnout. La chaire des Talents de la transformation digitale édite un guide de bonnes pratiques

  • Published on 08 December 2016

    Innovation: Finding Inspiration With Bob Dylan

    Are radical transformations the answer to innovation?

  • Published on 08 December 2016

    Innovation : pourquoi faut-il s’inspirer de Bob Dylan ?

    Comment les entreprises confrontées aux problématiques d’innovation peuvent-elles s’inspirer de Bob Dylan, lui-même fervent adepte de la transformation radicale de son art ? Entretien avec Mark Smith, Professeur de ressources humaines et doyen du...

  • David Gotteland est professeur de marketing à Grenoble Ecole de Management
    Published on 17 November 2016

    A 360° Vision for Product and Service Innovation

    As global competitiveness forces companies to innovate and distinguish themselves, this 360° method for innovation focuses on capturing and using a company’s creative potential. The profiling tool was implemented by Grenoble Ecole de Management and...

  • Published on 17 November 2016

    Michelin Innovates Using Serious Games

    Michelin innove dans son approche de services de la mobilité grâce à l’open innovation, au serious Game "Tech It ! " et avec les étudiants de GEM.

  • Published on 17 November 2016

    Mobilité : comment Michelin innove

    Michelin innove dans son approche de services de la mobilité grâce à l’open innovation, au serious Game "Tech It ! " et avec les étudiants de GEM.

  • Published on 13 September 2016

    Dans les entrailles de Pokémon Go

    De l’utilisation abusive des datas collectées à la constitution d’un algorithme capable de prédire le comportement des utilisateurs, Nathalie Devillier met en lumière l’opacité de l’application Pokémon Go. Une technologie qui attise les...

  • Federico Pigni, Professor at Grenoble Ecole de Management
    Published on 01 July 2016

    Research: Creating Value from Digital Data Streams

    The big data era is upon us. Startups, major companies, organizations and governments are all rushing to extract essential insights from big data. Yet in doing so, many have overlooked the potential value of the digital data streams (DDS) that make...

  • Federico Pigni, Professor at Grenoble Ecole de Management
    Published on 01 July 2016

    Recherche : Le big data temps réel, une nouvelle source de création de valeur

    Enregistrés et analysés en quasi temps réel grâce aux progrès de la technologie, les flux de données du big data donnent naissance à de nouveaux services créateurs de valeur. Une étude portant sur 171 initiatives du monde entier décrypte la logique...

  • Published on 30 June 2016

    Joining the UN’s International Telecommunication Union (ITU)

    Grenoble Ecole de Management becomes the first Business School in the world, and the first higher education institution in France to join the prestigious International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the United Nations specialized agency based in...

  • Published on 04 May 2017

    Study Trip Report

    2017 was a great success for the entrepreneurs of the MSc Innovation, Strategy and Entrepreneurship at Grenoble Ecole de Management. Students had the opportunity to travel to Silicon Valley (USA) and discover the world’s leading hub for innovation...

  • websites such as TripAdvisor have given consumers the power to impact a company's image.
    Published on 22 March 2016

    TripAdvisor: How Companies React to Negative Ratings

    The world wide web has revolutionized the hotel, restaurant and other travel-related industries. From online bookings to customer ratings, companies have to learn how to operate in this new environment. While an organization's market identity used...

  • websites such as TripAdvisor have given consumers the power to impact a company's image.
    Published on 22 March 2016

    Recherche : TripAdvisor ou l’irrépressible montée du pouvoir des consommateurs

    A travers TripAdvisor, les clients ont une influence croissante sur la réputation des hôtels et ces derniers répondent de plus en plus aux avis défavorables. C'est ce que montre une étude menée entre 2002 et 2012 sur les avis des clients de 600...

  • Research: Creating Visitor Engagement Through Music
    Published on 29 February 2016

    Research: Creating Visitor Engagement Through Music

    Digital communications have created an information overload for customers. To stand out on the world wide web, companies have to offer clients a high-impact experience. When used properly, music provides a simple yet effective means of creating a...

  • -	Projet CHESS – Connected Health Early Stage Researcher Support System
    Published on 08 September 2015

    Connected Health: the New Health Management Models

    Save lives and improve quality of living during and after treatment in the most cost-effective way: the promises of connected health are opening encouraging horizons for the future of healthcare systems. Connected health will contribute to creating...

  • -	Projet CHESS – Connected Health Early Stage Researcher Support System
    Published on 08 September 2015

    Santé connectée : les nouveaux modèles de management de la santé

    Sauver des vies, améliorer la qualité de vie pendant et après le traitement, le tout au meilleur prix : les promesses de la santé connectée ouvrent des horizons encourageants pour l’avenir des systèmes de santé. Elle contribuera à créer un...

  • Published on 16 July 2015

    Research: Unraveling the Link Between Managerial Risk-Taking and Innovation - the Mediating Role of a Risk-Taking Climate

    Innovation has become a crucial factor for companies looking to maintain their competitive advantage. Yet creating innovative ideas requires a certain level of risk-taking. While research on this subject has focused primarily on risk-taking at one...

  • Vincent Mangematin, Associate Dean for Corporate Relations and Research at Grenoble Ecole de Management
    Published on 17 March 2015

    Orchestrating Innovation with User Communities in the Creative Industries

    In search of continuous innovation, the digital creative industries have expanded their interactions with user communities to develop their products. This study highlights the evolution of these company-user relationships that allow for fluid...

  • Hippocketwifi,  le Wi-Fi de poche pour les touristes étrangers
    Published on 27 October 2014

    Hippocketwifi, le Wi-Fi de poche pour les touristes étrangers

    Les globe-trotters connaissent le coût exorbitant du hors forfait à l‘étranger et les heures perdues à chercher un réseau Wi-Fi souvent décevant.