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:
- an established project for all the primary classes
- a model that gives special care to the ergonomics of work places
- a partnership strategy between the private and public sector
- a shared financing, both for use and management
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:
- Does the primary school offer to the children the access to information via new tools of communication?
- Does it prepare them to learn new languages centered on communication, exchange and interactivity?
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:
- large dimension
- adjustable height (adaptability child - adult)
- rounded perimeter, allowing three pupils to work together with equal access to screen vision.
- possibility for a fourth pupil to work traditionally with his/her peers (supporting collaborative group work).
swiveling: two sitting positions adjustable height
indirect lighting with variable intensity control
anti-static carpet and soundproofing
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.
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
opportunity given to all the students to work with the multimédi@ tool as part of their school work and at a young age
computer work provided for all: no influence as for the social condition of the parents nor to the sex of the children possibility of working according to the double principle of vertical and the interdisciplinary
Contributions for the colleagues
respect for teachers having initial computer fright when faced with IT
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.
The State of Neuchâtel by the Service of primary teaching and IT. The community of Coffrane Private economy: project executors, the Neuchâteloise Chamber of Commerce for the trade and industry (CNCI) and other local companies
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 managementA shared financing
Here are the contributions of each partner:
Primary teaching service:
- creation of a position "director of multimédi@ ": MR. C.A. Rudolf, allowing 10 periods teaching per week for the startup of the project, since the re-entry of January 1999 until June 2000, the completion date of the experiment. During this time, an evaluation will be conducted. The continuation or the end of the experiment will depend on the results of this evaluation
Community of Coffrane:
- classroom availability and financing of cable communications for the Internet.
- Last year we won 1st prize in the contest " Impulse Youth " organized by the Neuchâteloise Chamber of commerce for trade and industry at the 1502nd anniversary of the Republic and Canton of Neuchâtel, in the sum of 50.000. - francs
- we profited from the support of various companies (detailed list of the associated organizations)
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:
- a teaching committee
- an economic committee
The committees are made up representatives of each partner and have the responsibilities of:
- Implementing the strategic orientations
- Giving opinions and proposing experiments to conduct in the program.
- Evaluating the provided services and to manage changes
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:
- to familiarize themselves with the use of a computer multimédi@
- to work according to the double principle of vertical and interdisciplinary: students of 5th grade working with 1st grade students.
- to work in group and to develop their personality with a view to enrich their emotional quotient
It will serve for them::
- initially, to master a tool, still perceived as some as stressing and destabilizing
- finally, to think of the adaptation and the role of the pedagogue in the interactions between " teacher - learning " and " teaching - external world "
The school authorities will be able to use this room for:
- the training teachers
- initial training of the students
- laboratory for new experimental teaching practices
- this multimédi@ space, located in the school building, can become a user-friendly place of exchanges and meetings between people of all ages, sensitivities, cultures. Our wish is that a kid brings his grandfather or his grandmother in to " to play to learn together "
- Coffrane is the first commune of the canton have profited from such an organization: it serves as a dynamic and modern image
In the short run:
- to use the infrastructure to organize seminars, to develop the formation continues their employees
- to use the infrastructure like showroom or to reach networks of resources and various competencies
With medium term:
- this realization can encourage a constructive dialogue between the economic and educational domains
In the long run:
- to profit from a local labor formed with the new means of communication: that is an asset for the region!
We thank you for your interest in this project and are at your disposal if you need any further information.
© 3Ru, août 99