INDUSTRIALIZING VIRTUAL CLASSROOMS IN DISTANCE EDUCATION. HOW TO MEASURE ADDED VALUE OF A TRAINING ?
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2013 Proceedings
Publication year: 2013
Conference name: 6th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 18-20 November, 2013
Location: Seville, Spain
I collected empirical data through a fieldwork study in a French distance education institution equivalent to Uned (Universidad nacional de educación a distancia). I was hired as both a training manager and engineer and I designed a one year curriculum including intensive use of virtual classroom technology.
As an education sciences researcher at Conservatoire national des arts et métiers (Cnam, France), I use this raw material to analyze large scale industrialization, of an innovative teaching tool and compare it to literature dedicated to industries of knowledge . I therefore launch a discussion about added value of a training.
The project I got involved in was to reengineer a one year curriculum for a hundred students who are preparing a national diploma to become teachers. Since students are scattered all over France, they opt for distance education. The previous curriculum was based on paper lectures and essays to be sent by post. Oral examinations where prepared by paper-written essays.
The new device tested and to be implemented on a large scale to replace the former one is based on virtual classrooms to prepare oral examinations. Each student takes three oral examinations trough a virtual classroom, where he is directly corrected by a teacher. Each student can also assist silently to oral examinations of others. The community of students can therefore potentially attend to four virtual classrooms a week.
During the pre-test period, with volunteer students, it appeared that large scale use of a new teaching technology triggers many changes in the institution’s community of practices. The main issues were to train teachers to handle the device : how to start a virtual classroom, interact orally with the student and keep an eye, at the same time, on the chat box ? It was also a matter of logistics to organize inscriptions for oral presentations since the institution was not used to it. Last but not least, costs were estimated in order to validate the whole project : it could not be implemented if too expensive.
The discussion is about how an organization in distance education implements on a large scale a new technology to improve its performances. The main idea is that it entails an estimation of a training’s value. This value is partly accounted in an official document listing all the costs and comparing it to the number of students and how much they are going to pay for the training. But many dimensions are not listed in this accounting vision : the cost of changing routines within the institution as much as the perceived added value of using new technologies and therefore catching up with private contenders on training market.
Keywords: Value, training, virtual classroom, industry of knowledge.