Technology

Pixminds provides interactivity in higher education

The “class of the future” imagined by the company Pixminds explores the notion of interaction, since it allows the teacher to be connected to around 500 students at the same time and to give lessons both face-to-face and remotely.

Already operational in Savoie, this virtual and connected classroom has been developed with the University of Savoie and its laboratory dedicated to teaching methods, Inseec U of Chambéry and the Lyon laboratory Liris, specialist in human-machine interactions, under the aegis of from the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region. Carried out in spring 2020 and accessible from the start of the academic year to students of the partner business school, the Ark-Inseec class consists of a 100 m room2 and equipped with a giant interactive screen of nearly 20 m2, based on Ark technology.

Originally specializing in the distribution of video game accessories, the Savoyard company Pixminds turned to innovative projects by designing in particular its Lexip mouse, presented at CES in Las Vegas, or a 3D table football equipped with ‘a touch screen. With this futuristic classroom, reminiscent of the digital boards deployed in the secondary schools of the National Education, Pixminds has rethought the learning methods, allowing teachers and students to collaborate simultaneously. “Knowledge must flow between teacher and student, and not just one way, as has been the case until now,” explains Léo Giorgis, R&D manager at Pixminds, to .

Smartphone at your fingertips

Connected, students can interact using their smartphone and participate in brainstorming sessions or answer interactive quizzes launched during class. The objective is also to ensure that the smart board is able to assess student participation during the course, and to give feedback to the teacher at the end of a work session.

But, for this to work, each student must be equipped accordingly. The digital divide is not so much the question, justifies Léo Giorgis. “Normally, it is not too visible in the private schools that we target. A priori, students are at least equipped with a smartphone. But, if the project were to be exported to other types of establishments, then we are considering a way of making tablets available in each room, ”he says. The tablets provided to the students would not also need very powerful processors to function.

Some engineering, business and marketing schools have already expressed interest in this technology. Among the cities that should soon be equipped include Paris, Bordeaux, Lyon, Monaco and Geneva.

Experimentation in progress

One or two rooms per establishment could be equipped with the technology. A complete facelift is necessary to install the giant transparent plexiglass screen and all the connections in the walls and ceiling. In total, the work necessary to install the device lasts for a month, estimates Léo Giorgis. The screen is equipped with a video projector on the back, and is supplemented by an infrared system to detect presence on the board and contact with the screen. Standard Windows PCs then run the applications.

In fact, the Liris is responsible for developing the software used by the teaching team, so that the teacher can in particular freely choose to play his videos or PDFs on the screen, or create a real-time quiz with his class. Two cameras will also be installed in the classroom to film the participants. This device will help students who study at a distance to better interact with the rest of the group.

The experiment which has just started in Chambéry will make it possible to assess the effectiveness of the system. The first feedback from the students will guide the research team towards possible modifications. “What we hope is that this will lead to a new way of learning. You have to test to find out! “, Encourages Léo Giorgis, who confirms that this device could also be of interest to companies.

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