|Sector||School as a Service, Cloud Technology for Interactive Learning|
|Target Users||Teachers and students across curricula and countries|
|Nature of the initiative||Public-Private Partnership|
EDUCLOUD means streamed content agnostic to formats and OS, interdisciplinary 3D serious games built by teachers and using local history, a content store providing Blended Learning from multiple media (e.g. XML, EPUB, PDF, MPG), a semantic push-pull search engine.
For NVIDIA, the EDUCLOUD project became the basis of this journey into e-education through the creation by a local start-up company named Gayatech, a flexible cloud based delivery platform of educational content enabling BYOD (Bring Your Own Device), founded in April 2014 by some entrepreneurs coming from the IT and video games sectors, supported by experts from the education segment.
In line with the European Commission’s communication on ‘Opening up Education‘, the French school system is keen to make the most of ICT to promote enhanced, more effective learning. The Ministry has long spearheaded a comprehensive digital strategy for education in France.
More recently, the National Council on Digital matters (“Conseil national du Numérique”) has released a thorough analysis and a full set of recommendations in this field.
In separate developments, the local Council of the Alpes-Maritimes has long courted high technology, since the days IBM decided to set up a leading-edge R&D center in La Gaude and, even more decisively and conspicuously, since Senator Lafitte established a world-class ‘Technopole’ in Sophia-Antipolis. Leading brands in high-tech and small developers alike have flocked in this science park of world fame. Nvidia, a leading provider of super-fast micro-processors, was part of them.
It took these two constituencies, public and private, to come together with a value proposition to a selection of local schools to convince them to join this experiment and unleash the power of ‘School as a Service’: EDUCLOUD was born out of this three-pronged cooperation.
EDUCLOUD was born in a context full of challenges as, just to name a few, the idea of students as co-designers of learning, the blending of formal and not formal learning, the integration of ICT in in teachers’ education and students’ low digital competences.
As well, EDUCLOUD address many challenges which may be considered ‘the education revolution’ as schools will use more and more mobile devices, learning will be anytime, anywhere and on any device, gaming and blended knowledge will be at the heart of the learning and teaching process.
Implementing a paradigm shift of the magnitude considered by the French government across a big, tradition-rooted country like France was never expected to be easy. Instead of sending instructions from the top, the mMinistry smartly borrowed a technique from business, that of pilot-projects. The limited size of these experiments is propitious to ascertain the value of a strategy: taking stock of the results, you can either stop the test without real damage or go full steam ahead once the model is validated.
The local government’s longstanding, unswerving commitment to promote ICT across the board was easy to translate into full support to ICT-enabled education. Under President Eric Ciotti’s sure hand, the Council decided to afford this project much-needed legitimacy. More practically, it opened the doors of a number of schools whose creative enthusiasm proved instrumental to generating the quality-content that is a feature of EDUCLOUD. On authorities in charge of schooling - and more widely of meeting the educational needs of a region or a country - are most excited to see the effectiveness of professional educators multiplied by several orders of magnitude; industry enjoys supporting a public policy priority while keeping or creating jobs locally.
Blessed with the Council’s formal support, the industry had no problem gathering the practical contribution of hundreds of teachers and students excited by the opportunity to bring their own perspective to the particularly rich cultural legacy left by Greek and Roman times in this part of France. Students were actually thrilled to design their own narrative of what happened then and thus to appropriate this most valuable piece of educational knowledge under continuing, tailor-made supervision from their teachers.
Taking cues from the above roadmap, NVIDIA and half a dozen high-tech companies operating in the Sophia-Antipolis area developed the unique ‘engine’ whose power and versatility aim to match the wealth and diversity of the content created by participating teachers and learners.
NVIDIA’s initial goal was to develop an ecosystem around its visual processing technology built for the cloud, in particular to enable the streaming of graphically rich contents such as video games, videos and various kinds of apps. NVIDIA was already actively present in the cloud gaming segment but was looking for new opportunities to promote its technology. The e-education sector became an obvious way for NVIDIA to expand its footprint into something which had a huge potential and was a perfect match with NVIDIA’s DNA.
The role of technology
EDUCLOUD is a platform capable of delivering from the cloud various educational multimedia contents such 3D serious games, e-books, videos, the same way Apple’s itunes or Google’s education store would do.
In more details, EDUCLOUD features the following services, during and after school time 24/24:
- A Cloud based platform aggregating contents from multiple sources: content created by teachers, by existing education providers (ex. e-books), apps and video games from third parties providers;
- Qwant Junior search engine;
- A collaborative Education Store;
- 3D education games (multi classes games and games to learn coding basics, Human rights, ecology);
- 3D Printing to extract models of 3D objects from digital educational resources.
This whole suite of unique services actually qualifies for the brand ‘School as a Service’.
In the context of the EDUCLOUD experiment, Gayatech has developed partnerships with French university laboratories focusing on educational research. More specifically, the University of Lille I and the I3DL research laboratory from the University of Nice-Sophia Antipolis today are working with the aim of developing the Educloud experiment in schools and of assessing the educational benefits of the platform both in and outside the scholar environment.
Thanks to these partnerships, a program monitoring the progress of the experiment has been created and will have the long-term effect of producing studies and scientific publications that will subsequently enable the understanding of how the EDUCLOUD platform is used by teachers, pupils and parents. This monitoring scheme will also enable us to assess the impact the platform has on learning and teaching in general. The results of these experiments will then be used to improve both EDUCLOUD platform and the related serious game in order to better meet everyone’s needs in the future.
More generally, you can see EDUCLOUD as a triple win:
- The authorities in charge of schooling - and more widely of meeting the educational needs of a region or a country - are most excited to see the effectiveness of professional educators multiplied by several orders of magnitude;
- Teachers turned into heroes by virtue of adopting the technology that keeps children riveted to their screens cannot be happier to see students enthuse on donning the gear of Greek navigators and traders or that of Julius Caesar, all the more so as their grades are moving upwards;
- Business partners, whether big or small, enjoy supporting effectively a public policy priority while keeping or creating jobs locally.
In light of this unqualified success, EDUCLOUD is poised to grow into a cross-region operation, with the guidance of France’s Education ministry and perhaps that of the European Commission. EDUCLOUD is open to collaborations with stakeholders from all quarters of business (book publishers, app developers, news industry, etc.) or civil society (concerned citizens, NGOs, etc) to explore new business opportunities.