A Virtual Classroom for ESSEC: Transposing Regular Teaching for Remote Learning

What does it mean for an academic to teach with remote students?

By Stéphane Potelle, Director of the Digital Campus project and Emmanuelle Le Nagard, Associated Dean for Pedagogy

In concrete words, the professor is teaching in front of a wall of screens. In a dedicated room several large screens are installed, and each of them can be split up to show up to 6 participants, so that altogether, around 80 students can be virtually present. On each screen, the instructor can see the face of one student or participant, connected from home, somewhere in the world, thanks to their webcam. The professor can deliver their course in real-time with their own computer and materials. The camera can follow their movements in the room, or can be fixed.

Barco’s virtual classroom

On their individual screen, each participant can see the room itself with the different classmates on the screens, the virtual blackboard (the slides, or other files), and the person currently talking.

The professor can also use a touch screen (similar to a blackboard) where students can interact as in a physical classroom. The system is designed to allow a real interactivity: the professor can receive chat messages from students and set up polls (public, or blind ones) to make the session more interactive. Students can even (virtually) raise their hands to answer a question!

To allow case discussions, subgroups can also be virtually created by the system, and then cancelled to continue the debate in plenary session.

These different elements allow a real immersive experience, both for the instructor and the participants.

The sessions can be recorded, and the files used during class downloaded by participants. At the end of the session, a summary can be sent to the professor, with the names of participants connected and their activity.

The physical room can also accommodate real-life participants, who will interact with their virtual classmates.

This kind of classroom is already implemented in Saïd Business School, in Oxford. In June 2018, a small group of professors and ESSEC K-lab members had the opportunity to visit the virtual classroom set up there by Mashme.

Mashme is a collaborative video platform, integrating different technologies allowing to offer a real-time video conferencing solution, with high-quality audio and video experience. It can be implemented in a dedicated physical classroom, to become a true “virtual classroom”, named by Mashme “the room of the future”.

Mashme’s virtual classroom in Saïd Business School

This remote classroom can be very interesting for ESSEC, especially for multicampus courses, or for contracts in Executive Education with international companies involving participants from all over the world.

In the future, it could also include a real-time translation feature, so that all ESSEC Faculty could teach in Japanese in Japan from Cergy or La Défense….
To be followed…