Digital for all now

The Futuroscope pilot High School: Helping students make their way in the digital world

Econocom 27 Apr 2015

Futuroscope’s LP2I International Innovative Pilot High School is no ordinary educational establishment. For almost 30 years, it has trained students to adapt to a society that is constantly evolving. With one eye on the students themselves and another on external influences, LP2I’s objective is to give pupils maximum independence and the means to adapt to an increasingly digitalised professional world.

At the start of January 2013, the high school went fully digital: students and staff alike were given touch-screen tablets, lessons could be downloaded online, and timetables were made more flexible to give each student personal attention. This gives students the opportunity to work on several individual and group projects that they later enter into their WEBfolio – an electronic portfolio in which they can also include extra-curricular projects. Hélène Paumier, who teaches literature, ICTE and media, tells us more.

 

A high school that is 100% ‘digital for all now’

LP2I opened in 1987 in Jaunay-Clan, France, at the same time as neighbouring theme park Futuroscope. It became the first high school in France to go fully digital. On 1 January 2013, every student, teacher and member of the support staff had a tablet in hand. Since then, photocopiers have become a thing of the past – all documents produced by the teachers are uploaded to thedigital workspace. For students and teachers alike, this new style of working has provided new perspectives, and makes teaching more interactive. However, although students are encouraged to download the learning material before each lesson, they do not have to use tablets during it, and can still take written notes if they so wish.

 

There is no need to buy books, as everyone now uses onlyelectronic textbooks. Some teachers, including Hélène Paumier, however, lament the limited choice available:

“Many publishers, such as Hatier, Nathan and Bordas, offer electronic textbooks. But we find it difficult to obtain suitable books that are truly interactive and cater to our educational requirements”. 

In their first year, pupils are given tablets which they can keep when they leave the school, after having passed their baccalaureate exams. One snag is that some tablets don’t stay the course.

“It’s not that our students are heavy-handed, but tablets aren’t designed to spend three years in a rucksack. Some of them don’t make it!” 

 

The WEBfolio for storing students’ work

In the pilot high school, 500 students – who are selected according to their motivation – are trained to be more independent, responsible, open and creative. This is done by reorganising the traditional school timetable: lessons last 50 minutes so that part of the teaching time can be allocated to in-depth study, skills monitoring and interdisciplinary work. That is where the idea of the WEBfolio came from. Hélène Paumier says that the students needed a place to store all their different projects:

“Lots of former pupils would contact us after leaving the school to find out if we’d kept copies of videos or audio projects they had done while at LP2I because they needed them for their post-school activities. Sometimes teachers had copies, sometimes they didn’t. That’s when we came up with the idea of a portfolio in which students could store all of their projects”.

The teachers began by setting up a digital portfolio project that involved creating mind maps designed using Freeplane software. However, they quickly became aware that students weren’t particularly interested in the idea and that it gained little buy-in. So, in 2012, they started from scratch and came up with the WEBfolio. The idea is simple: a list of tools is made available to students so they can choose the medium or media that best suits their project. There’s Prezi for slideshows, WordPress, Tumblr and SoundCloud for audio, Picasa for photos, Youtube and Vimeo for videos, the list goes on. Once the desired tools are selected and the necessary elements gathered, students canbuild their WEBfolio:

“Students often ask us whether they can put such-and-such a thing in their WEBfolio. We tell them they can put anything in it they deem relevant: scanned school reports, photos of a trip abroad, etc. We give them ownership by saying ‘It’s YOUR WEBfolio, it’s YOU who decides what structure you want it to have and what you want to put in it according to your choice of study'”. 

For Hélène Paumier, the idea is that the WEBfolio will develop alongside the student, and will eventually be followed up on websites like LinkedIn or Viadeo.

 

Informing students about legal issues

The issue of copyright crops up time and again, as the whole basis of the WEBfolio is about helping minors publish their work online. Hélène Paumier is clear on this: the students are extremely well-informed, and they must give written consent before content is uploaded to the Internet. Their WEBfolios are treated like personal websites where they publish work as individuals, not as LP2I students.

“The students already understand the tools, but we have to explain the legal implications. They don’t know about Creative Commons licenses and don’t understand why they can’t use a song to illustrate a video if they don’t have authorisation”.

Hélène Paumier believes that lectures on these issues are not useful; instead, it is essential to put students in a position where they can publish. At the écriTEch’6 exhibition, she explained that:

“The role of the school is to support students as they explore the world of the web in order to teach them to state their sources, respect the rights of others, use Creative Commons licenses, and so on. The work has proven particularly instructive: after producing a radio show, you are never again the same as a listener”. 

Schools must therefore help their students become informed Internet users, and that clearly requires giving them the right tools. At LP2I, students use computers – at school in dedicated periods or at home – to work on their WEBfolio projects. They don’t use tablets, as these are more suited to research and consultation than production.

 

It is also the school’s job to help students better understand and use digital tools. Providing young people with training in digital technology is a concern that cannot wait. Education is at the heart of the Digital for all NOW movement, and it will help us build the future of our society! 

 

 

Explore in more detail:

Pierrick Petillon: “Tablets in schools completely transform the role of the teacher in the classroom”

Digital schools in the Seine-Saint-Denis : an « educational shock »

Digital technology and data security must be reconciled in schools too

 

Photo credit: ebayink – Tablet use 1 / Flickr.com / Licence CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

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