EFMD Annual Conference 2014: the SmartEcole project at EM Normandy


At the EFMD Annual Conference 2014, Olivier Lamirault & Laurence Hélène outlined the SmartEcole project that has been developed at EM Normandy in France. The school had in fact begun working on e-learning and blended learning pedagogies 15 years ago. With the SmartEcole, the idea was to the use the feedback they had had, their experience of blended learning with teaching practices known to improve the quality of learning and employability. Accordingly, they worked on individualization, engagement, learning by doing, collaborative work, formal and informal learning.

First, the two speakers gave some numerical landmarks for the first year of the project:

  •  55 lecturers were involved.
  • All personnel involved in the project benefited from 75 hours of training
  • 10 classes were designed to enable a collaborative pedagogy
  •  70% of courses were scenarized on LMS: Course description, activities, online resources created and collected by lecturers, resources created by students.
  • 500 students were involved in 2013.

They then went on to present four key points of the project.

1 – Connecting research, pedagogy and enterprise

One of the major goals of this project is to connect research with pedagogy and business because links between research, pedagogy and business are not always clearly perceived. As Academic journals are not read by companies and not enough by students, they chose to work on 3 media types to operate this connection.IMG_7615

Firstly is the production of films of 15 minutes on researchers’ publications which can be easily understood by the general public.  Secondly, the publication of enhanced e-books. These contain videos of the author, interactive activities, reports, interviews, animations, audio, links. Each page contains an object to activate.

The third are vectors of communication such as social networking, video channels and iTunes U.


2 – IT infrastructure

Due to IT being a major issue, they built a new wireless network which increased the available bandwidth. However it turned out not to be enough as there are more and more electronic devices used by students. They began with 2.5 devices in their pocket and then were also given 500 tablets by the school which caused many difficulties as the network was overloaded by the amount of devices. They are also going to deliver a further 650 tablets to the students which will only increase the load. However the IT structure has greatly improved since 2013

3 – The design and animation classroom

As Rooms are essential for the project, they have redesigned them in order to facilitate a more collaborative atmosphere between Lecturer and Student. Both have an I-Pad and the classroom is animated by twenty different applications including one they developed called pad2Teach. It is connected to Moodle so the lecturer can prepare and upload the resources to animate their course. Furthermore the students can connect to the lecturer’s tablet. The lecturers themselves have access to a student’s tablet and receive an attendance list of students in CSV and PDF.IMG_7616

In each room, there are three projectors, which allow 3 different documents to be displayed. There are 12 linear meters of whiteboards for creative activities. Some applications allow collaborative work to the whole class on one screen in real time.

The main strengths are:

  • Layout of classrooms enjoyed by teachers and students
  • Well-spaced classrooms;
  • Animation abilities.

However, it is sometimes difficult for lecturers to get familiar with those rooms and for students to keep their attention.

4 – A multimodal and digital pedagogical approach

Each lecturer benefited from 6-12 hours of training as well as 3-6 hours of coaching. It is important that lecturers feel confident with the technology that they are using to teach their course and that is why training sessions are done, to really understand what lecturers want and actually can do in their courses. Each course must have a rhythm to facilitate knowledge creation.

Students were thought to be very confident with using a tablet however they realised that this was not the case. So they plan to improve on that by having training sessions for the students to help them improve.


They mentioned how it is never easy to make changes in an organization. Despite trying to anticipate everything some problems always crop up. Most notably was the underestimation of the students’ ability to use a tablet professionally, as well as the varied digital ability of professors. To help with this they have created a Lab where lecturers share experiences and help each other with it.

There will be 650 new students on the project in September, however, the project is not finished and it will take about two more years to complete the transformation.

Students have made really good jobs in some courses, and don’t want to go back to a “classical pedagogy”. Teachers who got involved in the project appreciated it and are now planning new experiences for the coming years. Furthermore, more and more faculty members plan to join the project.



See also:

AACSB Annual Meeting (ICAM 2013): 5 Essential Social Media Practices for Academic Leaders (Dr. Michael Williams, Pepperdine University)

Cover picAt the AACSB Annual Conference in Chicago, Dr. Michael Williams from Pepperdine University gave an excellent, practical talk on some of the strategies we can adopt for using different social media efficiently in our jobs. Dr. Williams recognizes that “we are all trapped in a high flow information world” and struggling to cope with all the different media forms that exist. The meeting was organized by the Associate Deans Affinity Group and was attended by 70 delegates.

Stephen Lazenby and Kelvin Ng, Global Relay, Vancouver, talk to GEM & SFU students about IT during Innovation Business Week

Global relay bannerThe transcontinental class was lucky to visit Global Relay on this Wednesday, 12th of February. Based in an entire building of Gastown, the students were welcomed by the director of business operations, Kelvin Ng, and the global head of product management, Stephen Lazenby. Created in 1999 their mission remains the same: “to be the number one provider of message and archive services to broker-dealers, investment advisors, hedge funds and banks globally, measured by total users, customers, and revenue”.

“Weaving in and out”: Lessons on Resilience, French Culture, and Entrepreneurship.

Stephen WalshMr. Walsh first came to Grenoble in 2010 for the Doctorate in Business Administration (DBA) at Grenoble Ecole de Management (GEM).  His motivation was to take a sabbatical year after working for 8 years in North Carolina State University, in the United States, and spend it in France.  After this first year was finished, he and his wife then went back to the US for one year, and then came back for the 2012-2013 year. He has taught courses in GEM’s management programs in Entrepreneurship and Strategy.  He has also split his time between doing research at the school, and managing teams at the CEA (Commissioner for Atomic Energy and Alternative Energies).

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