Schools and universities are experiencing a “pedagogical continuity” entirely dependent on digital technologies. Against those who would like to use the crisis to amplify the use of their solutions, it is important to remember that the situation we are experiencing is absolutely exceptional and should not be the excuse for a revived technological solutionism. In order to continue to think about educational digital technology with distance and critical thinking, we are launching a collaborative work to collect articles and reflections on the issue.
Pedagogical continuity: teaching “as before”
In France, schools have been closed for a month now, in order to stop the propagation of COVID-19. A physical closure only, since from the outset, the Minister of Education announced the establishment of a “pedagogical continuity”, dependent on digital tools and infrastructures to allow distance learning, virtual classrooms, exchange of messages and documents … But how is it possible to teach “as before”, while working at a distance, with little or no equipment, saturated platforms, unequally endowed students… not to mention the social demands dating back to the pre-Covid era that have been left unresolved (disputed baccalaureate reform, teachers’ struggle against pension reform, wage demands)?
For many years now, digital education has been searching for its way, with successive plans for equipment, training and the acquisition of digital educational resources. And overall, the results have been mixed: equipment that remains in the cupboards, rather weak pedagogical uses, and the added value of digital technology has not always been demonstrated. For its part, the French Edtech sector is desperately seeking to see the opening of an internal market for its services, and is increasingly subject to competition from GAFAM. The investment fund Educapital, another recent player, is stepping up the pressure to “deploy an ambitious digital education policy based on a robust French sector”. (White Paper / Press release COVID-19). The question of the right place for digital technology in education was therefore already a sensitive political issue.
Pedagogical continuity and the digital revolution
- the Minister of National Education has announced a “general meeting on digital education” at the start of the new school year. This announcement, which is still unclear, shows that the main angle adopted by the Ministry is that of digital technology, even though everything suggests that educational continuity raises complex social, educational and pedagogical issues. (Source)
- the Île-de-France Region is stepping up its digital investment plan (52 million to equip computers and tablets), “regardless of the educational choice of the establishment”. A decision that seems to us to be taken in a hurry, without any justification and pedagogical reflection. And which, moreover, only seems to respond very partially to the problems posed by pedagogical continuity: lack of equipment, but also access to the Internet, isolated space to work, parents’ ability to help their children, ease with the written word and administrative digital tools, etc. (source)
- the Edtech sector, as part of a solidarity communication campaign of a certain scale (several articles have been dedicated to it in the national press), wants to give access to its contents and tools, and thus “show that its solutions work” (source).
The crisis situation that we are experiencing should not prevent us from thinking digital with distance and criticism. What the school and the university experience is absolutely exceptional and should not be an excuse for exhilarated technological solutionism.
Educational continuity and reflections on education
As mentioned above, this census also looks at the many reflections that pedagogical continuity raises within the educational ecosystem. Non-exhaustive list :
- Role of the school and its different actors
- School form
- Impact of social inequalities
- Impact of the “digital divide” (highly contested term)
- Educational innovations
- Pedagogical continuity or educational continuity?
Launch of a contributory database
We are therefore launching a contributory database to identify and document the articles, reflections and surveys relating to the “educational continuity” (or other system following the same logic) implemented in most countries of the world, and the impact digital on this educational continuity, the public-private partnerships carried out, the follow-up given by the public authorities … This database is mainly French-speaking, but we are completely open, and even very interested in information coming from elsewhere (US, UK, China, in particular).
The objectives of this database are to:
- Know what is taking place and follow it over time
- Understand what will have changed once the state of emergency has passed
- Request accounts if necessary
Featured image coming from the website l’1dex