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The Evolution of French Education in the Digital Era

Céline Authemayou, Translated by Nina Fink
Publié le
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The Evolution of French Education in the Digital Era
For Mounir Mahjoubi, Secretary of State for Digital Affairs, developing digital industries needs more engineers, researchers and degree programs. // ©  Audoin Desforges pour l'Etudiant
Never before have tech giants such as Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft (GAFAM) faced such distrust. EducPros discusses this and other top digital topics with French Secretary of State for Digital Affairs Mounir Mahjoubi.

Never before have tech giants such as Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft (GAFAM) faced such distrust. EducPros discusses this and other top digital topics with French Secretary of State for Digital Affairs Mounir Mahjoubi.

Between the Facebook scandal and the growing presence of Google at universities, how do you view GAFAM’s role in education?

They are widely used because they offer great services. Yes, they use a lot of our data but we agreed to it. There were no lies. Users are realizing that giving their consent has important consequences, that their data may have been sold, reused, shared or even stolen and manipulated.

This awareness is developing in an unusual context since the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will come into effect throughout Europe on May 25, 2018. In France, it will be accompanied by a new data protection law that will create major, financial obligations for digital service platforms. They’ll have to be transparent moving forward.

Student data use is a major issue.

Data use issues arise when sites are hosted abroad. I’m careful when sites store student information but we don’t know why. Google has educational tools that treat students’ data very responsibly but you have to know about them and sign up. The danger is when schools use traditional Google products with less stringent data policies.

What about teacher outreach?

Some teachers use open-source software. How can we make that more widespread? I don’t have anything against fee-based services if they’re better. It’s important to choose rather than opting for the easy solution. That means giving teachers information and training. Often they’re more familiar with the big American platforms because they’ve used them in their studies or their private lives.

How can we raise students’ awareness regarding their data?

They have to go from seeing technology with wonder to understanding it. We need to start teaching critical media analysis in elementary school. That is crucial in the age of social networks. In higher education, the question is how can digital tools enrich learning?

When President Macron unveiled his artificial intelligence strategy, he also stressed the importance of developing digital industries. We need more engineers, researchers and degree programs to meet the economy’s needs.

Read the full article (in French)


Céline Authemayou, Translated by Nina Fink | Publié le

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