Thursday, April 9, 2020

Confinement: when teachers teach on Discord, the app for gamers

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Live commentary from parts of Fortnite at an algebra class. To continue the distance courses in confinement mode against the Covid-19 epidemic, teachers use the tools made available by their academies such as digital workspaces (ENT) which centralize educational resources, formal exchanges and online exercises .

Faced with the recent saturation of these portals or by ease of use, some college or high school teachers have switched to Facebook or broadcast their lessons via WhatsApp.

But others have opted for more unexpected platforms.

“It is the students who are asking for Discord because they use it in their hobbies like video games, they know and go very quickly on it,” says Guillaume Ogier, English teacher and teacher trainer for digital tools in the Academy of Lyon.

Students invited by e-mail

Available in the form of a website or a free application, Discord allows you to exchange between players as in a classic chat while providing “voice lounges” where users equipped with a microphone can discuss or comment on their exploits .

It claims 250 million followers worldwide.

Once registered, the member creates his server and invites interlocutors by e-mail or messages. It is therefore quite easy to master for teachers who are comfortable with new technologies.

“We collected all the students’ emails via the Pronote school life management software and we thus explained the total use of Discord to each student,” explains Sami Gerni, young SVT teacher at the Jean Lurçat high school in Paris (13th ).

His course is sent in PDF to the “text lounge” at the time scheduled on their timetable for the quarter. It is then discussed in this virtual class with the game of questions and answers.

Virtual dunces

“The course went very well on this day but the only small negative point is that some clever people have fun inviting other people on it,” he regrets.

The Discord platform mainly surfs on the technical difficulties of the tools recommended by the French Ministry of Education.

“Colleagues look for alternative solutions when academic platforms are saturated and as Discord is used to high demands, they manage connections better than academies” notes Guillaume Ogier.

This teacher, also Academic Digital Interlocutor (IAN), however fears that this commercial platform potentially exploits the data of young users and that its servers are not based in France.

These structures precisely did not resist Monday to this new wave of users. A few hours after the platform announced a 20% increase in capacity “to make sure you can write and chat and video without problems”.

According to the latest status of Discord servers, the problem seemed to be resolved this Wednesday. In parallel, the more official digital workspaces (ENT) seem to be working again.

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