Meeting with the "digital" Vice-President of Paris-Est Créteil University, on Tuesday, February the 28th, at the Fontainebleau campus, as part of the implementation of the proposals from the 2022 Students Citizen Assembly.
Pierre Valarcher, UPEC “Digital” Vice President , Computer Science Lecturer, Assistant Director of the Algorithmic, Complexity and Logic Laboratory and Co-Director of the Living Lab AlgoPo
🤝 This meeting was an opportunity for some of the Socio-political Studies on Globalization and Socio-environmental Transformation Masters 2nd year students (Coline, Kenza, Maryse, Clélie, Réda, Clément, Dylan, Lucie, Maddy and Victor) to present to the UPEC Vice President in charge of digital technologies nineteen proposals from the 2022 Student Citizens Assembly intitled "What digital for what society?". The implementation of these proposals concern Paris-Est Créteil University so students focused on how the university could help implementing them. To do this, they first formulated their expectations with Pierre Valarcher by dividing the proposals into five themes: flagship proposals, digital & education, digital & health, digital & environment and digital & law. Then, in a second phase, came a time of very enriching exchanges between the students and Mr. Valarcher around the proposals presented, allowing the vice-president on digital technologies to express his opinion on the said proposals and add context when necessary.
💡 Student Proposals
Proposals presented under the theme “Flagship Proposals”:
- Creation of a Digital and Solidarity Mediation Centre
- Creation of a single university platform
The first proposal is based on an observation: digital technology is of paramount importance in student life. However, we note with regret that nearly 1.5% of students (30,000/2 million) do not have a computer (according to the Association of Digital Vice-Presidents of Higher Education). Also, 10 to 25% of students would not have a stable connection, necessary to study (according to the student union UNEF). There is a real lack of facilities to help these students in precarious situations. The creation of this pole involves the creation of a student association within it, the development of surveys to measure the digital needs of students and the collection and distribution of digital tools. The university can help to set up this pole through the creation of partnerships (logistical assistance for the premises, contact with qualified stakeholders, setting up collection of tools, etc.) as well as support on communication.
The second proposal concerns the creation of a single university platform. The objective of this proposal is to group E-Campus, Eprel and Ade under the same architecture and to create a local support network with a system of proposals-applications. These two objectives will aim to reduce the number of clicks made on different platforms (pollution reduction), simplify architectures, comply with accessibility standards and provide access in English. The university could help students by promoting the existing e-campus forum through a communication on student support, by surveying students on their digital tooling needs or by setting up a test group of the single platform.
Proposals presented in the theme “digital & education”:
- Promote face-to-face courses
- Value the commitment of students trained in the accompaniment of other students
- To train students on what to do with the information available online
As a reminder, online courses overload network consumption. Indeed, 150 grams at 1 kg of CO2 are emitted in one hour when a course is online! It is imperative to use less polluting software such as Microsoft Teams or Google Meet if certain courses are maintained online. However, teachers must give priority to face-to-face courses. Nevertheless, students with disabilities and/or school phobia must be able to benefit from quality access to courses, in a way that takes account of their situation.
Secondly, the commitment of students who have been trained to accompany other students must be recognized and valued, whether through the introduction of diploma supplements or the creation of a specific teaching unit.
Lastly, students could be taught how to deal with online information through short modules or online tutorials. Alternatively, this dimension could be integrated into methodology or IT courses.
Proposals presented in the theme «digital & health»:
- Fighting digital addiction
- Improve communication around tele-monitoring and tele-medical guidance for students
Students attached particular importance to both proposals, as “nearly 70% of students experienced symptoms of depression” (Ouest-France, 11/17/22), according to a survey conducted by the CSA Institute for LMDE Student Mutual in 2022. Student health is declining: we must take action without further delay!
Firstly, the battle against digital addiction could be waged through the organization of a prevention week on mental health and the risks of addiction at the start of the academic year, in collaboration with the municipalities (examples of workshops: film-debates, PSSM training, meetings with psychologists and awareness-raising workshops). In particular, the students call for the teaching staff to be trained in these issues.
Then, the students proposed the development of a medical structure on each campus with a general practitioner, a nurse and a psychologist.
Proposals presented under the theme “digital & environment”:
- Implement a training module on digital impacts
- Demonstrate energy and digital sobriety on every university campus
- Extend the Eduroam WIFI network
First of all, the establishment of such a module requires playful teachings, inspired by alternative pedagogies, in order to raise students, university staff and stakeholders' awereness on the climate emergency. Climate frescoes can be displayed.
Next, we need to achieve energy and digital sobriety on every campuses. This would be done by setting low hours of activity of servers and websites, strengthening thermal insulation, installing watch timers to electronic devices in order to limit energy consumption, the measurement of the digital environmental footprint at UPEC and, last but not least [for IEP students] the implementation of green digital initiatives on the new IEP campus.
Lastly, the extension of the Eduroam WIFI network would reduce the use of mobile networks (5G, 4G, 3G) that pollute more or less 20 times more than WIFI. Also, it would be necessary to ensure that those present on a campus connect to it systematically. This network could also be expanded around campuses so that students who wish to work in a location near the university can connect to it.
Proposals presented in the theme «digital & law»:
These proposals stem from a theme that Political Studies Insitute students have little control over. They are to be deepened by the students of the Master in Digital Law. They were not discussed during this meeting.
- Submit UPEC's digital tools to the General Repository for the Improvement of Accessibility, which describes the level of accessibility of software and sites for people with disabilities.
- Make it possible to systematically anonymize exam papers
- Set up an image right form for each event
- Have a rights management platform
- Create digital repositories as well as an association dedicated to student access to GDPR rights
- Seek consent of those concerned for the capture of their image and voice by Microsoft telecommunications tools
- Find an alternative to the Microsoft Office 365 suite
- Set up a secure portal on the university’s website to exchange files with the administration
- Improve the information provided to students on their rights, personal data and public selection algorithms.
💬 UPEC's "Digital" Vice President's response and discussion with students
Pierre Valarcher first congratulated the students for their presentation. He then commented on the presentation by reacting to each proposal put forward, with the exception of the proposals of the theme "digital & law" for the reasons presented above.
Creation of a Digital and Solidarity Mediation Centre?
This proposal was discussed at length by Mr. Valarcher and the students present. Several points were raised:
- Each campus needs 1 digital mediator per program.
- These digital mediators would be trained and thus each would have a specialization. These trainings could be done by Fab-Lab*(1).
- In particular, this mediation activity should be enhanced by a diploma supplement (to put this supplement in place, it may be interesting to contact components of UPEC that already use this). Otherwise, here is what could be implemented: non-mandatory option, student employment, free teaching unit, civic service).
- Students should inquire about the functioning of the university disability cell that already exists.
- Machinery (digital tooling) could be recovered from other UPEC components such as the IUT which has a stock and machinery and has different partnerships with companies that supply them with the machinery that is no longer in use.
- 1 administrative staff at each university site could be in charge of the management of this pole (part-time or full-time employment).
- We must exhaust this subject, know exactly what the ins and outs of this project are to make it concrete. This includes creating job cards to recruit digital mediators, as they could be employed by the university for this purpose.
- UPEC could provide a secure cabinet to the Political Studies Insitute in order to store the machines.
Creation of a single university platform
- The automation of the French-English translation of UPEC’s digital platforms will be done this year.
- Community support network. Fewer clicks. Simplified architecture. Translation. Accessibility standards. Eco-design.
- A survey should be conducted for students on their use and understanding of current digital tools.
- A forum could be created on this platform to centralize information about student well-being (in the form of a Request for Proposals for Action (for example : J’aime ma ville)).
Digital and Education
- Mr. Pierre Valarcher supports the idea of students who believe that face-to-face courses should be encouraged.
- The fight against disinformation could actually be done through short modules or online tutorials on fact-checking. We should find out what is being done elsewhere and how it is being organized.
Digital and Health
Mr. Pierre Valarcher said that he could not personally help students on this topic. However, he advised them.
- Students should organize a meeting with "Vie de Campus' (Campus Life) and Résus+ (academic heath service platform) and propose the project to FSIE and CVEC (fund services for university-related projects) in order to receive support.
- We should think about creating a health pole in Fontainebleau because it is an outlying city that ultimately wants to become a recognized campus city.
- The deterioration of students' mental health implies the need for psychologists on the Fontainebleau campus.
Digital and environment
- Should UPEC switch to geothermal heating?
(1) A fablab (contraction of fabrication laboratory) is a third-place makerspace framed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and FabFoundation by proposing a minimal inventory allowing the creation of the main projects fab labs, a set of free and open-source software and solutions, the Fab Modules, and a governance charter, the Fab Charter.
Written by Victor Pires Henriques
Translated by Dylan Breviere