AN INNOVATIVE EDUCATION
WHY IS THE EPITECH MODEL SO MUCH IN LINE WITH BUSINESSES?
Graciela Padoani David has been involved in the world of education for the last 20 years. After an initial degree in Philology (Buenos Aires and Barcelona) she obtained her Masters in research into educational science on project-based work (University of Lille 3). This year she will finish her thesis on this same subject.
BY GRACIELA PADOANI DAVID – EUROPEAN DOCTORATE IN EDUCATIONAL SCIENCES
Above all, employability and competences are from now on part of the vocabulary of higher education. The Hetzel Report “De l’Université à l’emploi” (From university to employment), as well as the assignment of integration into the world of work attributed to higher education by the “Loi Pécresse” (French law passed in 2007 regarding the autonomy of universities) are the latest examples.
Higher education has also endeavoured to include these two aspects in the legibility of diplomas and the teaching programmes. The pedagogical model of Epitech has always taken this into account. It has enabled Epitech to put into practice another vision of higher education while at the same time remaining completely in line with the working world. This innovating model was borne from two suppositions:
- The certainty that the current traditional model for higher education training needs to be adapted in depth for all the countries concerned with the Bologna Process (educational objectives) and the Lisbon Strategy (economic objectives).
- The certainty that the objective of acquisition by students of disciplinary knowledge no longer suffices. Nowadays preparing students is better done by ensuring they acquire competences and develop their autonomy through carrying out apprenticeships. Professionalising studies and the decline in competence training are considered to be the base of renovation and the effectiveness of studies. In other words, obtaining a sustainable education in a constantly changing world.
In other words, these two statements should be taken into account more and more when organising the transfer of knowledge in an economy and society that Europe wants as “knowledge”. It is true that the European ministries of education wished “to make the economy and knowledge of the European Union the most competitive and dynamic of the world in 2010”. In order to achieve this the European Union needs its own education system so as to provide the competences. The higher education system is therefore at the heart of this new economy of innovation and of the decline in LMD (Bachelor-Masters-Doctorate) degrees in developing skills.The above-mentioned two statements have also led Epitech to choose an innovative educational / pedagogical approach centred around the students and their results (and not around the teacher and the contents of the courses) with, as primary objective, to better prepare the student for integration into employment.
EPITECH: THE PROJECT APPROACH
Since its establishment, Epitech has addressed the issues of adjusting the transfer of knowledge to the constraints of the economy that is founded on knowledge. In other words, Epitech’s primary concern is to focus, simultaneously, on:
- “Learning” (the students becoming intellectually active, which is not the same as focusing on programmes or cramming), and
- The services offered to students (for example, excellence or educational innovation).
Compared to traditional teaching, which is rather more continuous and progressive, Epitech relies on a concentric type of teaching, helped by a “project” approach, which goes deeper and spans out the programme whilst at the same time encouraging breaks during the course for placement opportunities (as from the 3rd year, for example, students can work two days a week in a company).
A NEW VISION OF TEACHING
In order to realise this new vision of teaching in competences and professionalization which is, incidentally, seen to be a necessity in Europe so as to increase the prestige of more than 5 years’ higher education as much with students as with employers, fits into three target areas:
- A method of teaching per project
- A syllabus with a professional approach (or by competences)
- Disciplinary knowledge at a high level (an Epitech expert on information technology without solid knowledge cannot be competent).
These three targets chosen by Epitech work in a coherent manner aiming to prepare for a professional life that takes into account a double need:
- Needs of professional sector employers (logical balance between training and employment).
- Students’ needs (logical development of a large span of knowledge and competences so as to be able to face up to the evolving sector of TIC activities, and also to be able to succeed in future professional changes).
A SPECIFIC APPROACH
This very specific approach in devising our courses and training programmes allow us to:
- Use approaches on projects where the issue is production of abilities taking into account the specificities of a situation, resolving new problems and imagining previously unknown solutions. In short, where the issue is to produce complex competences.
- Use work situations for training, in the school-business partnership, whose criteria are to acquire in the same time and the same work places, both changes in production and changes in the players.
In other words, we provide training that enables a successful insertion into professional life (100% of students are in business by the end of their studies) thanks to a « systems analysis » which enables our students to have a horizontal vision of business (contrary to the thinking in closed circles) and which encourages a critical reflexion, innovation and progress.
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