“Teaching and skills development in the digital age: the challenges, best practices and new business models,” was the theme of the 5th “Matinales de la Prospective – Digital Business”. This series of conferences was organised by Les Echos, France’s leading financial newspaper, in partnership with Econocom and Kurt Salmon. Here are some of the keynote speakers’ insights on how to manage the digital revolution of education.

What resources does digital education require?

Digital technology is leading education establishments and training organisations to explore new ways of learning. The success of MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses), for example, is proof of the need for alternative approaches to education.  But it does also raise a number of issues: for example, what is the purpose of digital learning if there’s no diploma at the end of it? What sort of resources – digital and other – need to be deployed in order to address these new requirements? And what sort of economic model needs to be applied in order to industrialise the process, a point which was raised by Ludovic Legris, Senior Education Manager at Kurt Salmon.

An example of the popularity of this new learning trend mentioned during the Matinales event was an initiative launched by the French Ministry of Higher Education and Research in October 2013, called FUN (“France Université Numérique” – France Digital University). “36 MOOCs are hosted on the platform,” explains Catherine Mongenet, advisor for the Ministry’s FUN project, “and 127,000 people have signed up.”

According to Sophie Hirat, Director of the Education Market at Econocom, implementing the right digital resources is just one of the success factors of a digital education project: “If you’ve got a hundred students logging on at the same time at the same venue, you have to make sure you’ve got the right network infrastructure to support it”. In addition to this technical issue, Sophie explains, you also need to provide the right digital devices for teachers and students, and rethink the workspaces in order to accommodate small collaborative groups and encourage communication and sharing among the various parties involved: “Implementing extensive digital technology in the education sector is a major transformation project which involves dealing with the teaching staff, IT, Finance and Facilities.”

Teaching and training: how to keep up with the digital revolution?

Regarding the transition process, a number of recommendations were made during the conferences:

  • Introduce courses that combine MOOCs with traditional, mandatory lessons.
  • Offer added value by individualising courses and developing face-to-face services.
  • Introduce instructional design centres and get students involved in developing and improving teachers’ input.
  • Assist teachers and students in using digital technology for learning.
  • Provide training for employees on the challenges and uses of digital technology and then teach them new skills and knowledge using digital teaching methods.
  • Apply the principle of MOOCs for companies demanding new training products: create online modules and flexible serious games dedicated to various industries/jobs, etc.