Defective material, connection problem, lack of training. Are the computers distributed by the Ile-de-France region to all the second grade students poisoned gifts?
In order to “guarantee equal opportunities”, 340,000 computers and tablets built by the Ile-de-France company Unowhy have been distributed since September 2019 in high schools in the Ile-de-France, for a total cost of 180 million euros. “The Covid-19 crisis has reinforced the digital divide within our territory. During confinement, we saw that young people only had their cell phones to stay in touch with their school. Students must be able to telework if they need to, ”underlined the region’s boss, Valérie Pécresse (Libres!), During her back-to-school press conference last August.
Dysfunctions denounced by the FCPE
“It is not enough to have a computer to take a course. You have to know and be able to use it, ”Nathalie Jasmin, president of the local FCPE (Federation of parents’ councils) of the Léonard-de-Vinci high school in Saint-Michel-sur-Orge, replied today ( Essonne).
A year ago, the establishment where his daughter studied was one of 330 public high schools (out of 465 in Ile-de-France) to have switched to digital textbooks. All the second and first students had been provided with a computer. A deployment that continued this year with the seconds.
But since then, the list of problems encountered by high school students and their teachers has only grown. So much so that a motion called “Digital divide, educational continuity” was widely adopted at the end of November, during the last board of directors of the school.
Students more comfortable on phones than computers
“Of the 1,300 students, around sixty are still without equipment. Some cannot connect to the establishment’s wi-fi. The network is not suited to support so many connections at the same time. And digital textbooks are very heavy, lists the president. Alas, some teachers prefer to make photocopies that they send to the ENT (Editor’s note: digital workspace) or that they project in the classroom. The region has rushed the digital switchover too much, without taking into account all the risks that this entails. “
And it’s not just in Saint-Michel-sur-Orge that things get stuck. This is what Camille testifies to. This first year student at Corot high school in Savigny-sur-Orge (Essonne) is absolutely not convinced by the usefulness of these devices. “They don’t work well, they’re too slow. Our teachers don’t use them in class either. They give us photocopies to do exercises, ”he says.
Another problem is the lack of training around their use, as emphasized by Romain Caron, professor of social sciences at the Couperin high school in Fontainebleau (Seine-et-Marne). “Just because students are comfortable on their cellphones doesn’t mean they are comfortable on computers. They encounter great difficulties in using word processors, in sending an email, he noted. Some would take pictures of what they did on Word and send it to me via WhatsApp for example. They are not autonomous enough. In class, we are constantly asked to solve technical problems. Obviously, it takes time for teaching. “
Back to photocopies
An experience lived by several teachers. “I had to start some of my students’ computers, they didn’t know how to do it,” says Yelena Susic, co-secretary of Snes FSU 91, one of the secondary education unions. We all end up making photocopies for our lessons. “
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And when it is not the students who do not know how to do it, it is the computers that complicate the task. “Last year, after the start of the school year, my computer charger broke down, I couldn’t turn it on,” recalls Camille. They took over a month to replace it. And this year, we had to wait several weeks before we could download our textbooks. “
“For maintenance problems, we do not know where to turn, deplores Sophie Vénétitay, Deputy Secretary General of Snes-FSU. For some applications, such as science subjects for example, the device has been configured in such a way that it is not possible to install them. It would be really problematic if we were to switch back to full distance education. “
The region recognizes “some problems”
Accused of having wanted to make a “publicity stunt” by the CGT-Education, the region defends itself: “It is an unprecedented and unprecedented effort in France by its speed of deployment, but which could generate some problems. This is why we strive to respond as quickly as possible to emergencies when they are reported to us. “
The latter ensures that by spring 2021, 100% of high schools will have wi-fi. “The digital manuals are accessible on Monlycée.net regardless of the computer equipment, we conclude. Some national publishers may have experienced difficulties. We organize workshops with them to improve ergonomics and the user experience. Finally, we have also made tools available to teachers that allow them to build their course by combining different teaching resources, the school manual no longer being the only source of content to create a course. “