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In spring, we made the best choice possible, because it was the most responsible one

Published on
09 November 2020

In May 2020 Loïck Roche and Jean-François Fiorina, Dean and Director and Associate Vice Dean of Grenoble Ecole de Management (GEM) took the decision to get ready to kick off the 2020 school year online. Together with all of the GEM teams, they are are preparing for the second semester which will begin in January 2021 with HyFlex classrooms, digitalization of teaching approaches, new services and more.

Cycle 1: 100%online and quality guaranteed (Sept to Nov 2020)

jean-françois Fiorina
© Bruno Fournier

On May 7th, GEM took the decision to announce its 2020 school year online. "We made the best possible decision for our school in this context of crisis in spring of 2020", says, Jean-François Fiorina, Associate Vice Dean of Grenoble Ecole de Management. "We anticipated that the whole school year would be complex. From May 2020, we wanted to take measures to avoid any risk of clusters at the start of the school year and to give visibility and stability to all of our students and staff. That is to say to avoid going back and forth, so as not to disrupt students in their learning and to guarantee a stable framework for all of our teams. We have anticipated our 2020 school year in flexible 2-month cycles that have been well thought out, structured and prepared to allow both the flexibility required in the current context required and the same level of quality education and services we have always provided. Let's be responsible and stop thinking we can switch from one to the other without preparation. To prepare it, is to anticipate it and not to suffer it" he concludes.

This decision allowed all GEM stakeholders to organize themselves in accordance with the health constraints and health ministry guidelines, to welcome students for the new school year and to deliver the same quality of teaching as usual. During the start of the 2020 school year, students at GEM discovered the school through virtual events and online services: A virtual reality back to school challenge, an online Welcome Forum, virtual tours of the Paris and Grenoble campuses, online and face-to-face teaching, in person meetings with associations, student services and campus, where the context allowed it. The result was a calm and serene start to the school year with teaching and classes delivered as planned and with very few cases of contamination among both students and staff (less than 100 positive cases declared among 8,500 people between Sept 1 and Nov 5 2020, and less than 20 people as of November 5, 2020).

Cycle 2 (Nov.-Dec.): 100% online and new investments

The second cycle was designed with a progressive return to the classroom in mind. On October 30th, the President of the Republic France announced the second lockdown, until at least December 1st, for now. As a result, working from home has once again become the norm for our staff that have jobs that can be done remotely. The whole of cycle 2 at GEM (from November 2nd until the Christmas holidays) will now be done online, leveraging the same approach as in cycle 1. The end of semester partials - for the students - concerned will be done online. Continuing Education activities are also maintained.

GEM has also heavily invested to maintain the quality of its services and to offer new ones in new formats:

  • The GEM campuses in Grenoble and Paris will stay open so that students can work in common workspaces and libraries by reservation, with certificates of derogatory movement and in compliance with social distancing norms.
  • All student services remain 100% operational and accessible remotely (careers, personal development, teleconsultations, psychological support etc.) An update is sent to all students on a regular basis since the beginning of the crisis to keep them informed on decisions taken by the School in real time.
  • An application dedicated to reserving spaces and classrooms, in alignment with health and social distancing rules, has been set up.
  • 18 HyFlex classrooms have been set up on the Grenoble and Paris campuses. This technology makes it possible to mix online and face-to-face. The school will equip 100% of its rooms for the 3rd cycle of the year (January – March 21). These will make it possible to deliver education both to students in the classroom and remotely or entirely remotely in an even more extensive manner. Their key interest is to improve the conditions of distance learning through inclusive and immersive experiences and through more possibilities of one-to-one coaching and assistance.
  • "Mixed reality" experiments are underway at GEM Labs: interactive, immersive and dynamic courses are being delivered with the use of virtual reality, a digital twin of GEM Labs is being created so that courses be delivered in the in virtual version of GEM Labs, a robot that will enable the GEM connected shop to be operated remotely is being developed, and much more. All these innovations and experiments will be presented in the coming weeks.
  • Ongoing support for teachers in mastering new technologies, such as those used in the HyFlex classrooms rooms or for online teaching.

Cycle 3 anticipated as of January 2021

to do as much as is possible face-to-face and to also be as flexible as needed. The modalities for cycle 3 will be announced mid-November.

One thing we all virtually sure of is that the entire school year will be impacted. This cycle will further privilege our "mixed-reality" projects, the use of our HyFlex classrooms (see above) and events blending distance and face-to-face. This early announcement, as we have always done since the beginning of the crisis, allows our students to choose whether to come into the school buildings or to work remotely and whether to vacate their accommodation as soon as possible if required.


© Bruno Fournier

"We are witnessing a rapid change in the models that business schools will develop in the years to come. The pandemic is forcing us to further accelerate the evolutions and transformations we had started to implement. In the same way we must love the night as it is from this that the light will come, the best to be learned from this crisis, will be to succeed in sustainably changing the ways we think, act and live together, in the most positive possible way for society and the environment at large", concludes Loïck Roche, Dean and Director of GEM.

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