46 : Pedagogical Innovation: the UTC formulæ

The key guidelines for pedagogical innovation implemented by UTC aim at ensuring the students become the actors of their personal learning process. This calls for collaborative work on real, scale-one problems, also for reverse educational lectures and serious games. The aim is not only to better arm our student-engineers to face their future professional career but also to adapt the university to comply with the specifics features that characterize a new generation of undergraduates.

46 : Pedagogical Innovation: the UTC formulæ

InnovE-UT: ‘Flipped classes’ and remote learning

In 2014, the three French Universities of Technology (UTs), viz., (Belfort-Montbeliard (UTBM), Compiègne (UTC) and Troyes (UTT) opened a joint course combining, in particular, ‘inverse’ (or flipped class) pedagogy and remote learning - its name is InnovE-UT. The first evaluation for this course has been positive.

Supported by the three above-mentioned Universities of Technology, by the INSA Group, by the CESI (Centre des études supérieures industrielles) and the University of Lorraine, InnovENT-E is one of the projects selected as ‘innovative pedagogy’ under the Government incentive Investments for the Future plan. Its aim is to develop innovation-intensive training and export-oriented modules compliant with the needs expressed by SMEs. For this purpose, InnovE-UT, a minor specialty proposed jointly by UTBM, UTC and UTT, is an excellent illustration.

In order to widen the scope of teaching offered, the three French UTs share 9 credit courses (3 for each UT) all with remote access. Students are required to choose a minimum of 3 modules: one in their initial UT which they follow in live class formation and one each from the other two UTs which they follow remotely. “In order to facilitate distant learning, we have digitized and course contents and supports and put them ‘on line’”, explains Pascal Alberti, head of the InnovE-UT programme and of one of the CCs offered by UTC.

“Whether the students follow the CCs remotely or not, we were able to introduce also the concept of ‘flipped’ class pedagogy which encourages the students to increasingly become positive actors of their learning process. Before each course, all the students registered for my CC are supposed to have read/studied the documents made available on the ‘minor web-site, essentially videograms where I present the theory and indicate links to additional resources (scientific papers, etc.). They are also required to exchange in respect to course contents, via a specific CC Forum: they ask questions and I answer ‘on line’, or they even answer questions raised by their class-mates, which constitutes another way to acquire new knowledge. Finally, when we get together in face-to-face class formation, we can have an in-depth discussion of these answers”.

Approximately 500 students each semester

This minor has another specific feature in that considerable leeway is left for remote collaborative project work, on real, concrete subjects provided by industrial partners: the work load is subdivided among several teams with students on a single site, exchanging via the collaborative platforms or simply using Skype. Inasmuch as InnovE-UT is accessible for the students registered at one of the 3 UTs, no matter what their major specialty is, and also open for non-French students doing a mobility internship in one of the UTs, these projects provide an excellent way to gain new, intercultural skills. Three years after the InnovE-UT programme was launched, the assessment today is seen as conclusively positive. Depending on the semester, somewhere between 400 and 500 student-engineers from the three French UTs are registered for this minor course and the attractiveness of flip-class pedagogy and remote learning is self-evident.

“Even if it is difficult to measure scientifically the results of flip-class pedagogy, my own feeling is that they are positive”, explains Pascal Alberti. “The ‘lectures’ are much more interactive and allow the students to go beyond basic understanding of problems and often beyond the initial limits set to these problems, since the exchanges with and among students leads to further in-depth questioning. It is, admittedly, an approach that requires more work input, but at the same time also a greater degree of flexibility in the learning processes. Students can consult on-line resources as and when they so desire, can revise when they want to, answer MCQs to self-assess their progress for certain part soft h course and/or can follow other CCs when registered for a mobility stay in a non-French university”.

As Marion Mézerai, in charge of the InnovENT-E at UTC - who accompanied the lecturers in designing this minor course - sees things, the objective can now consist of disseminating this principle of remote ‘flipped’ classes beyond the scope of InnovE-UT: “Naturally there can be no question here of generalizing the principle, but rather to reach out to new audiences; for example, student entrepreneurs or salaried students registered for an engineering diploma and for whom the course offers a flexible way to complete their training on certain specific points”. The concept also opens the way to some interesting prospective such as facilitating access for enterprise to certain continuous education programmes, without having to be physically present at UTC, or again, to develop some these training module for an international context and market. n

> Presentation of the minor InnovE-UT

An XXL-sized creativity-intense workshop

December 1st and 2nd, 2017 – as every year since 2014 – UTC participated in the competition, “48h to make ideas come live”. For two full days, at the UTC Daniel Thomas Innovation Centre, student-engineers from various majors and students from

the Institut polytechnique LaSalle-Beauvais and from ESCOM (École supérieure de chimie organique et minérale) addressed in team formations subjects proposed by local companies. The objective assigned is to see innovative concepts being presented, underscoring their pluridisciplinary features, but also to see teams from other Regions and countries confront their ideas. Organized in the framework of

InnovENT-E, this event brought together some1 500 students spread over 8 centres in France and several venues programmed outside France (Chile, Argentina, Bahrein, Morocco, Algeria…). This is another way to have student-engineers, notably those registered under the InnovE-UT programme (for whom the challenge is indeed compulsory) – to take part actively in collaborative work-sharing.