Grenoble Ecole de Management has invested 1.2 Million Euros in 32 HyFlex classrooms. These new classrooms, that are being currently deployed on its campuses in France, make it possible for teaching to be delivered to a class of students that are both present in person and remote. An inspiring disruption in innovation that is pathing the way for the post Covid teaching methods.
Innovation used to heighten presence even when remote
As of January 1, 2021, GEM will have 32 HyFlex classrooms: 20 on its main Semard campus in Grenoble, 5 on its GEM Labs campus also in Grenoble, and 7 on its Paris campus.
These rooms can accommodate up to 40 people (two of them can even accommodate 120 people) and they can manage up to 300 connections simultaneously. In total this amounts to the ability to deliver teaching to +10,000 students simultaneously (1 440 face-to-face in standard condition, 720 with social distancing, and 9 600 connections are possible). GEM, however always favors teaching to cohorts of 40 students to ensure quality monitoring and attention to each student. The total possible capacity could be leveraged for event such as the Geopolitics Festival.
- 2 screens: a tactile screen for delivering course materials, and a 2nd screen to see and interact with those participating in the class remotely.
- 2 adjustable cameras automatically configured: one that tracks the teaching being delivered by the teach and one that tracks the in person participants and classroom.
- An advanced and quality sound system that tracks and broadcasts whoever is talking.
Thanks to this pedagogical innovation, classes can be delivered in a wide variety of configurations leveraging the best tools and software on the market:
- The teacher can be in a classroom or connected to his computer elsewhere (if the circumstances prevent him from being present) to deliver the class.
- Students that are remote (either in other classrooms at GEM or elsewhere) can attend the class as can students in the room.
- A teacher in the HyFlex room can deliver teaching with a traditional approach using a presentation and a whiteboard and can also use more advanced features of the interactive touch screen panel. Students in the classroom as well as remote students will be able to all see the same thing and interact each other and the teacher in the same wat. The teacher can create mixed work groups (face to face and remote students) if desired. Everyone can present their proposals and projects with the rest of the class.
Photo Credit Bruno Fournier
Armelle Godener Director of Pedagogy at Grenoble Ecole de Management, explains that "GEM's HyFlex rooms were designed with an educational approach and not as part of a purely technological approach. Beyond improving the conditions of distance learning, this solution must allow all audiences face-to-face and remote to be part of the same space and to feel it. This allows us to follow-up with each and every student wherever they be and to help any student that may be in difficulty. We're even testing a group attention tracking system that would allow each teacher to follow up with students that have attention issues".
"We are engaged in a complete transformation"
The promise of HyFlex classrooms is to guarantee quality teaching whatever the situation. This solution provides extensive flexibility. It overcomes difficulties related to current health constraints and can also respond to everyday problems: a student or a teacher stuck in a place for any reason (temporary or permanent disability, a visa problem, a transport strike, etc…) will still be able to take part in a class as long as they have a good internet connection.
A remote student can choose to display the course materials on the left and the room or people present on the right.
The difference at GEM is the decision to create a custom and integrated solution in house
"We designed and developed this solution for our Pedagogy with the expertise of our Learning Design Unit (LeD) at GEM and our experimentation and innovation team at GEM Labs" explain Jean-Philippe Rennard, project leader for the initial phase of this and professor at GEM. "The Department of Pedagogy needed to develop a system that would allow a class to be delivered to 40 students, when only 20 could be present on site. Our motivation to develop our solution was not only motivated by the Covid-19 health constraints but by the future approaches of teaching that have been in emerging in recent years. We have developed our own system that is open, versatile, scalable, focused on the needs of teachers and students, efficiency and ease of use." he concludes.
The entire faculty has had to change the way it prepares and delivers a course.
A shift that was happening at GEM in line with its School of the Future pedagogical model and that has been dramatically accelerated since Covid. During the first lockdown, 230 teachers or external contributors were trained and supported for 4 weeks to make this shitt. Since the deployment of our HyFlex classrooms in early October, 100 teachers have been trained to create and deliver lessons to a class of students onsite and remote.
The goal is to train all 150 permanent teachers and 800 external lecturers by the end of this school year. Regardless of technological know-how, each teacher can quickly learn to use the HyFlex rooms. Various features have been included to facilitate the experience for the teacher (e.g. automatic computer recognition, no connection required etc). However, delivering a lesson in a HyFlex room requires the experience to be designed and scripted. GEM have provided resources to help teachers with this and are continuously developing its pedagogical engineering support unit and support for the teachers by:
- Technical and education support present during the first two lessons given by a teacher in a HyFlex classroom;
- A technical hotline that can be dialed into from each HyFlex room;
- An online resource space with tutorials, best practice groups, etc.
- A pilot team of a dozen teachers that test and improve the system continuously