EMAI-concept, a bridge between the school, the

community, and the economy


This project was developed by a team of teachers from Coffrane Primary School. This team includes: Mrs. Corinne and M. Claude-Alain Rudolf, assisted by Mr. Jean-Philippe Rudolf, a consulting economist, who currently works in the European Center of Professional Education (CEDEP- INSEAD) in Fontainebleau.

We were fortunate to have the consulting expertise of Mr. Claude Michaud, a professor of economy at the INSEAD, and General Manager of the CEDEP in Fontainebleau. You can read the official presentation of the project, given at the conference on June 18, 1998.

The project is supported by: the Department of Primary Teaching and the Department of Data Processing of the canton of Neuchâtel, the commune of Coffrane, the Neuchâtel Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CNCI), and by variouscompanies of the region.

Multimédi@ Space for Interactive Learning (EMAI) at the primary school of Coffrane allows not only the introduction of data processing the primary level, but it is also:

The Establishment of the Project

This project is situated in Coffrane, a small agricultural village of the Valley-of-Ruz, with approximately 660 inhabitants, located halfway between the towns of Neuchâtel and the La Chaux-de-Fonds.


Here are some of the questions which have interested us for the past two years:

Identified problems

Our basis is structured on study published in 1996 by the French Institute of Search and Teaching Documentation (IRDP) entitled: " DATA-Processing SCHOOL: 10 YEARS OF EXPERIMENTS "

This study involved 6 French cantons plus the cantons of Bern and Tessin, and shows the significant difficulties related to the use of computers in the classroom:

First problem: lack of time
Second problem: too many pupils, at the same time, a need for an introduction to computers
Third problem: an insufficient number of computers

The fourth problem is related to the management of the class and the fifth is the poor didactic design of the activity.

We noted that the first three difficulties are of an organizational nature. Therefore, our idea involves searching for solutions to these three problems.

Ergonomics of Work Places

We equipped a classroom with quality performance computer hardware. The machines are connected to the teaching network set up by "le Service de traitement de l'information" (STI), connecting the canton to the Internet. This allowed a teaching network that connects all the school establishments of the canton. The room consists of 12 computers, a server, printer color, laser printer, scanner, copier, projector of data etc...

The room accommodates both the students and adults. We developed an ergonomic solution to improve comfort of each user. Problems related to the vision (eye report/ratio - screen; intensity of the ambient light) was treated in collaboration with Mr. Jean-Jacques MEYER, PhD, responsible for the laboratory of ergonomics of the vision of STI, the French university Institute of Health at the Work, located in Lausanne.


We asked a factory, MH DESIGN in Cortaillod, to develop a table multimédi@ suitable to our needs. More specifically:




This may sound extremely interesting but experiment in industrial settings showed that it was not enough to simply put beautiful machines in the workshops to significantly improve work outputs.

We think that this also applies to using computers in the primary school. Therefore, we propose an organizational solution involving teachers in order to help optimize work with this new hardware.

Organizational solution

The creation of multimédi@ space allows circular organizational level for all the teachers at the school.

MR. C.A. Rudolf is responsible for the aspect of quality " the director of multimédi@ " to guide the first steps of the users. His role is to support the initial training of the students and the teachers. Afterwards, each teacher is able to lead one or more workshop with the students, either from his/her own class or groups of students from several classes. In this case, the director's additional role includes teaching and replacing other teachers.

The advantage of such a structure: Each teacher can work effectively with students from different grade levels. Furthermore, the cohesion of the " group of the teachers " is reinforced.

Contributions for the pupils

Contributions for the colleagues

In our view, it is important to implement an opened, interactive and evolutionary teaching method " stretching beyond the simple accumulation of knowledge and technical tools " (Michaud, 1995).

Strategy of partnership

Such an implementation is obviously very expensive. We could not have done it alone.
We found the solution by proposing various partnerships consisting of multi-participants from the private sector and others from the public sector.

Three partners

The combination of these various partner resources allowed the completion of the project. The benefit: the communication and network that was established between them.

EMAI-concept, a bridge between the school, the community, and the economy


Financing, Use and Shared management 

A shared financing

Here are the contributions of each partner:

Primary teaching service:

Community of Coffrane:

Project executors:

A shared use

Open to the public at the school: parents of students, school authorities, community members of the village and local companies. Letting the public use the facilities, helps us pay to purchase and renew hardware and communication costs. The school session ends at 15h45, that leaves us time to rent our facilities to other users. The same applies to Saturday and holidays.

A shared management

We constituted two steering committees:

The committees are made up representatives of each partner and have the responsibilities of:


This structure should allow the creation of a training community that stimulates the exchange of information within our small village.


It will serve for them:


It will serve for them::

School authorities

The school authorities will be able to use this room for:

Local communities


In the short run:

With medium term:

In the long run:



We thank you for your interest in this project and are at your disposal if you need any further information.

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© 3Ru, août 99

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