France Université Numérique
Online courses are becoming available to anyone connected to the dedicated Internet website, without the restriction of borders. © CCNUNISTRA
As of November 2013, everyone (students, employees, job seekers etc.) can register on the France Digital University (FUN - France Université Numérique) website. Online courses (or MOOCs - Massive Open Online Courses) designed by higher education institutions will begin in January 2014, in various disciplines: mathematics, history, philosophy, biology, law etc.
Diversity and interactivity
The France Digital University (FUN - France Université Numérique) project, launched in October 2013, has two objectives: student success and increased levels of knowledge and qualifications in initial and on-going education.
It aims to make higher education courses accessible to everyone, by combining course videos, course evaluations, tutorials, peer correction and online interaction with teachers. The idea is to offer, by 2017, quality digital courses to all students at all stages of their careers, without this implying the demise of traditional lecture theatre classes.
A few examples to illustrate the diversity of the disciplines on offer: two MOOCs in mathematics have been created by Cédric Villani, winner of the Fields Medal (the equivalent of the Nobel Prize for mathematicians). École Centrale Paris has, for its part, designed a course on sustainable development, while Panthéon Assas-Paris II University has created one on justice.
François Taddei, Research Director at the Centre for Interdisciplinary Research in Paris, has warned that the project is only in its initial phase in 2013, and that improvements would be made. With digital technology, all types of student interactions with the content are possible. Teachers have real-time information that they can adapt to their various needs. In particular, they can adapt their classes and their teaching methods as soon as they notice students having difficult following, which is not possible in a lecture theatre.
The system also allows students to connect with other students from all sorts of backgrounds who share the same interests. But that is not the only advantage of online courses: employees looking to advance their career and secondary school or college students looking to get a sneak preview of a discipline can also benefit.
The reach of these courses is another factor in play, as they will be available to anyone connected to the website, without the restriction of borders. Thus international education prospects are also part of the project’s objectives.