Everywhere on the tables, in the lecture halls, the same alternation of red and green discs inviting to use only one seat in two. Here, at Cergy-Paris University, we took the lead, by applying from the start of a reception limit of 50% to spare a distance, unlike some universities in the capital which have left students elbow to elbow and which today, faced with the multiplication of clusters, are forced to apply this same measure (read the benchmarks).
“Considering the health situation, working throughout the semester while permanently welcoming 100% of our staff seemed unrealistic to us., explains Vice-President Laurent Gatineau. We have limited the presence of students in courses with large cohorts, rather than taking the risk of closing completely. “
A decision that has “Upset” Elie, in the second year of applied foreign languages (LEA). Asked to go to class every other week and to work at home the following week, he struggles to find the rhythm. “If I am not required to be present on such and such a day at such and such a place, I can get up at noon, like on vacation”, he breathes, a bandana tied over his head.
Entering into a learning dynamic, avoiding the trap of disinvestment or even dropping out, is the challenge that arises in this new academic year, especially for first year students. Also, the university has decided to strengthen tutoring, by peers or teachers, and to split the groups of tutorials so that all take place in its premises. However, half of the lectures must be followed remotely. “The teacher is in a lecture hall, with the other half of the group, and we follow his course as best we can from home”, indicates Inès, in L1 of history. To avoid “pajama syndrome”, she found a solution: invite a friend to her home, “To motivate each other”.
The “BU” also offers a solution, as long as its gauge – also reduced by half – is not reached. “The weeks when I do not have face-to-face lessons, I force myself to go there at least twice, even if that requires me to spend three hours in transport”, Halim says. He often works there with other students in 3e year of geography. “In video, we don’t talk for more than a quarter of an hour. When we are gathered around a table, ideas come to us more easily. “
In his eyes, the face-to-face-distance alternation constitutes a necessary constraint in order to be able to continue coming to university … “By feeling a minimum of security”, prolongs Gwendal, student in 2e year of LEA, which limits its social interactions to protect itself from the epidemic. According to him, the new organization leads teachers to adopt a reverse pedagogy: “They send us the course in advance. On site, we focus on the exchange, the deepening. Teaching becomes more dynamic. In half-groups, the timid speak more. “
From a health point of view in any case, this organization is bearing fruit, with less than ten cases per week, for 25,000 students and staff. However, Cergy-Paris University is ready, if necessary, to go down to 25% face-to-face, or even switch entirely to distance education. A measure that was imposed in master 2 of consumer law and commercial practices, for two to three weeks. This training totals five Covid cases, including its director Carole Aubert de Vincelles. “We had already created a group on Teams messaging and we were able to switch instantly to remote”, she recounts.
“Luckily, the wi-fi had been installed at my place two days earlier”, testifies one of his students, Flavia. But connection isn’t everything. The young woman who, on certain days, finds herself in front of the screen “Almost non-stop from 9 am to 8 pm”, apprehends this Wednesday, because her sister, with whom she shares the apartment, will also have to work in the living room.
Halfway through the semester, the university will survey students’ feelings about distance education in an attempt to measure the consequences. In the second half of last year, the system worked well: “While usually, in L1, half, if not a third of the students drop out before the end of the year, 75% of the students were there for the exams in May”, underlines Laurent Gatineau.