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Source: Swiss Canton de Vaud – news in French

Press release

Posted on October 27, 2020

If sanitary conditions require it, the Department of Training, Youth and Culture (DFJC) is preparing for the deployment of large-scale distance education. For this, it relied on an assessment made up of three studies, on the feelings of students, parents and teachers about the distance learning period experienced in the spring of 2020. This work results in a mixed assessment. of this period: the situations experienced were very different from one pupil to another, depending on the degree, the curriculum, the teachers and the family conditions, particularly socio-economic ones. Families have encountered many difficulties related both to the unprecedented situation and the lack of classroom education. As an inevitable corollary, inequalities between pupils have unfortunately widened even if the dropout rate has been limited. At the same time, this period saw the birth of many initiatives and projects, both individual and collective, and thus made it possible to test effective tools that are currently being deployed in all training places. Ready to be activated in the event of the closure of one or more classes or establishments, these tools are an essential part to ensure a school year as normal as possible.

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To take effective measures and strengthen distance education, the DFJC analyzed the feelings of students, parents of primary school children and teachers during this period based on three studies. Conducted respectively by the Research Unit for the Management of Educational Systems (URSP), the University of Teaching (HEP Vaud) and by the Federal Polytechnic School of Lausanne (EPFL), they made it possible to draw several general observations, including : A strong disparity existed in the situations experienced by each family. There has been an increase in inequalities between students due to the fact that distance education is not pedagogically comparable to classroom education. Dropping out of school was limited to an average of less than 5%, in which the gymnasium and secondary I (9-11am) are the sectors most affected. Digital means of communication have been heavily used, especially emails and messaging.

In detail, the Pupil Survey (URSP) explains the reasons that led some of them not to follow the full course offered or to drop out. It is above all the loss or lack of motivation that is very widely cited, far ahead of family difficulties or the lack of computer equipment. A third of the students also felt that working conditions at home were unsatisfactory.

Despite an exceptional and difficult situation, a good majority of parents of children attending primary school (HEP study) felt relatively comfortable during distance education. However, they had difficulty motivating their children to get down to work, to persevere. They also had difficulty answering their questions “adequately”, explaining them correctly “the teacher’s way”. School work has also created significant tensions. Parents felt more like home schooling than watching their child distance education.

The majority of teachers (EPFL study) believe that they have successfully completed their main mission, namely to distribute work, design activities and maintain contact. Their results also demonstrate the importance of contacts, feedback, individualization of monitoring and diversification of activities. The usefulness of digital exchange platforms is also emphasized, provided that the same tools are used, that one can be trained in them and that any technical problems can be resolved quickly. Video conferencing is also highlighted as a tool to maintain contact and to punctuate the student’s day as long as clear rules of use are set for him.

Measures for more effective distance education

To respond to the points raised by these studies, concrete measures have been developed since the summer in each level of education. They are currently being consolidated within schools and with teachers. They were also communicated to parents in compulsory school.

As for what is common to compulsory and post-compulsory schools, the first of these measures relates to the educational objective of distance education which will henceforth aim to progress on the fundamental objectives of the program and not only to consolidate the achievements . This measure should avoid the risk of a “lost” year, but also strengthen the motivation of students to continue working at a distance over a relatively long period.

The second measure concerns the aspect of work organization. To allow teachers to coordinate on the amount of work to be given to pupils, a common electronic diary will bring together all the activities planned and to be done during the week. It will also allow students to structure their daily work and keep the pace at school. The use of this diary will also set the times for videoconferences, the number of which varies according to the level of teaching. These virtual meetings, using the tools chosen or provided, will punctuate the working weeks and diversify the activities. As surveys show, the regular use of direct but virtual contacts can help reduce the number of dropout students, especially the older ones. To fight against this dropout, class teachers are also invited to maintain regular weekly contact with all their students.

Third measure, in order to improve feedback to students on the work provided, collaborative tools (office automation, messaging, document sharing) are offered to all schools and the resources made available to support their use. In this sense, to facilitate and homogenize exchanges with their teachers, all students from the 7th grade until the end of vocational school, transition measures or gymnasium are now equipped with an email address. More than 100,000 addresses were not only created, but they had to be dynamically integrated into the management system which makes it possible to monitor the changes inherent in school life, a student who changes class, arrival a new teacher, etc.

The work carried out between June and October was substantial and it continues. As of the start of the August school year, it was backed up by an important work of identifying pupils in difficulty and of setting up supports for them.

State of Vaud Information and Communication Office

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EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is a translation. Apologies should the grammar and / or sentence structure not be perfect.

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