Digital education: what are the issues being faced in the region?

On Friday November 4th, fifty people attended a presentation and workshops organised by Skillendo as part of the Mediterranean Economic week. The Marseille startup specialises in the development of training tools, providing a number of speakers to explain the issues surrounding the digitalisation of education. 

From wax tablet to touchscreens

Olivier Crouzet, Educational Director at Ecole 42, the Paris school of digital training founded by Xavier Niel, introduced his presentation with an amusing comment: “Today students can learn using a touch-screen tablet – 26 centuries ago in Massalia and elsewhere, knowledge was already being passed on via tablet – wax tablets. Education is in a state of constant evolution.”

Mr. Crouzet spoke about the expectations of new learners referred to as “digital natives.” These ultra-connected young people want both customized education and a collaborative experience. How can the two be linked? At the beginning of the digital age, e-learning mostly involved transferring knowledge to digital devices. Now, every aspect of education is being rethought, digitalised and adapted to meet new expectations.

The recreational aspect of technology was emphasizedduring the initiation workshops held after the presentation, which included immersion tools and “serious games” presented by Speedernet, Skillendo and Serious Factory.

Peer-learning, peer-correcting: improving training through cooperation 

In order to innovate, education has to reajust its instruction. As the director of Ecole 42 suggests, “inverse classes” allow individuals to learn by working on a project and receiving feedback from their classmates. The school has set itself the objective of encouraging socio-constructivism via peer learning, peer correcting and recreational influence.

In short, new learners expect collaboration and experience sharing: an immersion and recreational form of learning. According to Oliver Crouzet, “the direction we need to take is using technology to strengthen this link.” Zakaria Fahim, President of BDO Morocco and Hub Africa, made the same observation, saying he believed in learning through real-time and collaborative simulation.

For companies too, the collaborative system is a positive shift. As Olivier Crouzet pointed out, Airbnb is the world’s most high-value hotel chain in 2016, with 2,400 employees in only its 8th year. Economies are now subject to much shorter cycles, which is something companies and their employees need to be prepared for.

Digital on two coasts

For Christian Gayton, director of the digital learning centre at Serious Factory, digital learning also needs to be made available on both sides of the Mediterranean even if budgets are not the same. Ways must be found to provide solutions of equivalent quality even at very different market prices, by creating simple production tools such as those at the Institut Ferroviaire in Rabat. This ultra-high tech facility is equipped with a train driving simulator, even training young graduates of France’s national railway company, the SNCF. This model could be transposed into other territories, such as Algeria.

Mr. Gayton added that it would be necessary to find innovative solutions in order to get various regions and countries on board. Finally, he stressed that local skills and expertise would be needed to guide and support this digital transformation.