Toward individual mobile equipment?

If equipping with hardware and software for digital technology is sufficient to have a place in the school system, it will be known. For fifty years, equipment has been at the forefront of the concerns of decision makers. However, the place of digital technology in education is still very unequal, imprecise, hesitant, and above all lacking a more global view of the place to be given to digital technology in teaching. Because in the organizational and administrative field, the school system does not lack daily means or practices, but rather imposes them more and more on families and students. From registration to scholarships, from orientation to school life, educational institutions do not lack the “online services” that have computerized the management of institutions for many years. On the other hand, in terms of teaching, the equipment is very unequal from one place to another, from one school level to another. Despite frequent speeches on this topic, despite the recent projects of the Digital Educational Territories or the Digital Base of Educational Institutions (SNEE), or even the place presented for digital technology in the documents of the “School Building” unit of DGESCO, it is still very far from underestimated. Information technology and digital technology in everyday teaching.

Any place for smartphones?

Let us explain ourselves clearly: this is not about advocating the use of digital means during all school times and in all activities. No, this is absurd and will actually be counterproductive, because the pedagogical message is much broader. It is about man in his entirety, his complexity, and not just technologies which, if they are more and more present in everyday life, are only an aid to “real life”. But it is clear that the problem is presented to the school system through the acquisition of skills in the use of digital technology in daily life.

What has changed over the past 20 years is the proliferation of personal devices especially smartphones and other mobile devices. By investing in these materials, it is also a matter of communication expenses (telephone and Internet), to know certain uses of software (often free, with advertising, sometimes payment). Between video games and digital social networking (RSN), younger people have widely adopted these media and thus have developed certain skills. But is this enough to “live in society” and “actively” participate in a responsible manner? Many people note the limitations of these informal acquisitions when it comes to accessing services rendered or imposed in social life, such as enrollment in various resources (school, employment center, etc.) or important services (ameli/health or taxes and banks). Young people acquire the skills they need (they need them???) but they are helpless in the face of these resources and other services imposed in social life.

At school

If students in a school can access screens as easily as they can use them in their daily lives, then teaching teams will be able to enhance their ability to adopt responsible attitudes: learn not to use them if it doesn’t make sense, prioritize, and make choices. Thus, the school can better perform its educational task, which it cannot do if the computer, screens are left aside (computer room, shared laptop bag to be reserved) and often understood by the students. to normal classroom practices. Audit bureau report 2019 title and subtitle are eloquent: “Digital Public Service for Education, Concept Without Strategy, Unfinished Publishing.” The latter, created before confinement, will surely be enriched by the achievements of the past two years and will show what is Report of the Inspectorate General on Average Prices To understand the issue published in April, highlights: (pg 16): “At the beginning of the 2000s, almost all middle school classrooms were equipped with a video projector: 79% of the classrooms visited had a wall-mounted projector video or By the ceiling, 9% have a non-fixed video projector and only 12% have one.” We can add to this another observation about arrangement in rooms which essentially confirms the “illustrative” model of teaching: “The arrangement often adopted, in more than half of the classes observed, is an arrangement in columns and rows, with all the students facing the board. Lets This classic arrangement for all students to be in good standing to observe the board.”

Concerning more specifically the use of digital technology, the inspectors wrote: “Classes are generally equipped with a computer connected to a video projector, but the projection is not always done on a board where writing can be done and viewers are still very scarce.” We also read: “Computers and tablets available to students remain scarce in middle school classrooms.” Noting that pupils rarely have access to ‘functional’ materials in the classroom, they continue their analysis in the direction of the teachers regarding the application of physical means by the pupils in the classroom: “The few sessions where it was observed that the use required a very great commitment from the teachers to prepare them” . The recommendation of the inspectors, taken in a realistic and equal analysis of the situation, is to promote the idea of ​​\u200b\u200bcomputers nearby, i.e. directly accessible to the teacher and students in the classroom. Computers in the back of the classroom have been around since the early years of educational computing. We’ve been able to notice this since the inception of “personal computers” in the mid-nineties. As for the equipment of individual students, we have observed it experimentally in the years 2014 – 2016, in primary school, while this project was already in progress and laid as early as 2002 in some colleges and secondary schools. It is clear that the trend is increasingly strong, which is confirmed by the frequent use of students’ personal equipment (mostly a smartphone, BYOD) during lessons.

And now?

The rate of equipment among young people is impressive and this is from a young age (10 years most often for the first personal equipment, long before the equipment at home). The latest changes in the practices of young users go in two directions: digital social networks on the one hand, and “automatic” uses, that is, uses that combine facilitating activities and immediate access to these functions (videos, games, simple services, practical applications). The concerns and recommendations made by Dominique Boullier in his book on social networks should tell the world of teaching and education (“How to Get Out of the Grip of Social Networks”, Ed Le Passur, 2020). Even if this document does not directly address the issue of education, it highlights the place that digital social networks (RSN) occupy in society and provides ways to “take back control”. If this observation is directed first of all in the direction of decision-makers, then it concerns each of us, because we leave our daily life to be told by these digital means without trying to understand it, trying to control it, at least for himself.

Will changing the Minister of Education lead to another vision of things? Nothing is less certain at the moment. The return to the previous generation was carried by the former minister, believing that it would be enough to control protection and education. And the facts have shown that this was not the case, but quite the contrary, because the crises that it has experienced and perhaps will witness will lead to significant changes that will be accompanied by digital technology in society. Let’s hope that the political vision actually leads to the school system (not the “response”).

Bruno Devauchelle

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