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Organizing a 100% phygital school year at GEM

Entretien avec Jean-François Fiorina, directeur général adjoint de Grenoble Ecole de Management.
Publié le
16 Septembre 2020

Grenoble Ecole de Management focused on the key principles of agility and security to organize the 2020/2021 school year. Up until December 2020, classes will be taught online using a two-month cycle that will be re-evaluated according to the evolution of the epidemic. Interview with Jean-François Fiorina, Deputy Director and Program Director at GEM.

Why did Grenoble Ecole de Management choose to implement online learning?

We made this choice very early on, in June, in order to provide students, their families, and our staff with visibility for the future and to facilitate organizational requirements. Teaching online is not something you can improvise day-to-day. By making this choice, we guarantee serenity and stability for all participants no matter the evolution of the epidemic.

In order to be agile, you decided to enable a re-organization of the entire curriculum after a two-month cycle. Why?

The virus will not disappear overnight. First, we decided that we did not wish to delay the beginning of classes. The school year will start on-time, which will ensure that all learning activities will follow their planned schedule.

Grenoble Ecole de Management trains students around the world and it would be difficult to organize the school year on a case-by-case basis. As a result, switching to a 100% online solution, with the option of re-organizing everything after two months, offers us an approach that can be adjusted as needed all the while being efficient.

In any case, students will be able to come to school, study at the library, work with staff and students on campus. Student associations will also continue their activities (with a few innovations) as will all school services.

GEM is implementing a wide range of educational tools, including immersive 3D learning experiences, which have been modified according to feedback received over the past months…

This is a key point for students. All students will receive support through video clips that will provide an efficient introduction and preparation for the new class organization.

Classes have been transformed and adjusted to use various digital tools such as Teams, the school's intranet, and MOODLE, our e-learning platform. Various immersive, virtual reality solutions are also being used for teaching, in particular with the platform Welcome 3D (used as part of the new year challenge for students in the Grande Ecole Program). The student experience and the class content will be identical to in-class teaching.

The evolution towards online teaching raises questions about school fees… What is the school's position on this issue?

The Covid-19 context has created such constraints that in-class teaching would be unrealistic. Professors cannot triple their teaching time in order for us to meet limitations imposed by the Covid situation. Students in the 2020/2021 year will receive the same knowledge and skills as those delivered before Covid-19.

We are ensuring continuity in the educational curriculum. Services and support are also ensured. To put it simply, GEM is not "saving money" to the detriment of students. All of our financial costs are identical, in particular the cost of paying teacher salaries.

With your current perspective, what do you believe the consequences of this crisis will be on the evolution of education?

This epidemic strengthens the evolution of business schools, and in particular GEM as a School for Business and for Society. Our educational model is already built around themes essential to society. In the field of geopolitics in particular, our classes explore issues related to sovereignty, delocalization and globalization. In the field of economic peace, we explore issues related to governance, management, performance and well-being at work.

The epidemic will accelerate reflexions on the education of elites in the future, notably in terms of skills and goals provided through education. The current context requires a new foundation of knowledge in order to understand the world, its evolutions and define new management models.

Nothing will be like before. This is a fundamental evolution in teaching that will highlight the importance of research in business school. For example, it will be essential to explore and understand the societal revolution that will occur because of the mainstreaming of telecommuting. This revolution will force companies and employees to re-evaluate their agreements and the balance of power. How will telecommuting be implemented? How will it be evaluated? What negotiations will take place in social terms? Redefining this model will be a major challenge of the future.

The GEM New School year in Five

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