Through digital, Excelia wants to reinvent its teaching model


Anthony Hié, director of digital transformation of the Excelia group: “Data can help personalize and individualize educational paths. “

On May 31, 2022, the Excelia higher education group unveiled XL Vision, a multifaceted digital transformation plan, aimed at providing immersive learning experiences and more agile pedagogy.

AdvertisingThe Excelia higher education group welcomes more than 5,000 students annually to its campuses in La Rochelle, Tours, Orléans and soon Paris Cachan. It has five training schools in management, management applied to tourism and digital professions, with about 350 permanent employees and almost 500 external collaborators. On 31 May 2022 Bruno Neil, CEO of Excelia, accompanied by Anthony Hié, Director of Digital Transformation, Laura Zdroui, Director of Human Resources and Transformation and Caroline O’Neil, Pedagogical Engineer, presented the transformation plan of XL Vision, which aims reinvent the didactic model of the group to offer students and employees an agile learning system and immersive experiences.

According to Bruno Neil, XL Vision aims to be a “holistic and co-constructed plan with all stakeholders”. He sets out to propose a model of phygital teaching, “which changes the way knowledge is spread”. Excelia’s transformation plan revolves around three objectives: the revision of learning methods, the expansion of educational missions and the generalization of agility in pedagogy. It also gives an important place to the transformation of the organization, through a data-driven approach placed at the service of all users, students, teachers, administrative and governance staff. Finally, the guidelines also provide for a “green thread”, with the objectives of social responsibility (CSR) and digital sobriety. To implement this plan, included in the 2020-2025 strategic plan, the group has foreseen a budget of 5.6 million euros over five years and has hired around forty employees in the new professions.

Experience-based teaching

Higher education today faces several challenges: the emergence of new competitors completely online, students who wish to return to campuses and seek increased experiences, the development of micro-certifications in continuing education, the need for educational continuity with education hybrid … To meet these challenges, Excelia has chosen to work on four strategic axes. The first is to reinvent the experience of students, teachers and administrators with new human-centered services and collaboration methods. The second concerns the strengthening of the digital culture, with an HR strategy centered on the development of skills. The third concerns the development of innovative and immersive pedagogies focused on the needs and success of students. Finally, the last is the construction of an innovative technological base to support the growth of the group. These strategic axes are divided into six themes and 38 projects. “We plan to launch eight projects per year,” said Anthony Hié.

AdvertisingTechnological innovation plays an important role in this plan. For Excelia it operates on two levels: on the one hand, intelligent campuses that offer an enhanced experience, and on the other, a set of services in the digital world. For the first part, the group planned to equip each campus with an XL Factory, physical locations of over 100 m² organized in four spaces: Explore for the exploration of new learning approaches, including virtual and augmented reality; Create for creation through a production studio; Think to reflect with meeting spaces that promote collective intelligence and finally the Lab for training. The first complete XL factory will open in La Rochelle in October 2022, while the other campuses will be finalized within the next six months. The group is also working on the R2S-4grids certification of its buildings connected with Certivéa.

Metavers and platform for the learning experience

In the digital world, Excelia works on two types of metaverses, accompanied by the specialized consultancy firm Antilogy. The first is a synchronous metaverse, a digital twin of the XL Factory. According to Anthony Hié, this metaverse will make it possible to offer immersive learning experiences, complementary to those on campus. “We don’t want to reproduce the lessons, but to target scenarios, with the support of teachers,” said the director of digital transformation. Excelia also wants to implement an asynchronous metaverse to give students the opportunity to develop skill blocks, “maximizing and stimulating cognitive abilities”. For Caroline O’Neil, pedagogical engineer, “it’s about combining neuroeducation and technology to ensure effective pedagogy. »The use of virtual and augmented reality, preferably with headsets to maximize immersion and concentration, allows students to observe the same concept in different environments and to be actors, which contributes to the anchoring of knowledge. These technologies also contribute to the creation of responsible pedagogy. “Choosing virtual reality to visit foreign companies also means limiting your travels”, explains Caroline O’Neil.

The group also wants to implement a Learning Experience Platform (LXP), a training platform focused on the student experience, which will specifically offer micro-modules to meet the increased demand for micro-certifications. “LXP leverages data and artificial intelligence to enable ultra-personalization, tailoring teaching to students’ progress, preferences and behaviors,” said Anthony Hié. On these issues, the group collaborates in particular with Domoscio, a company specializing in adaptive learning. A business data block is already operational within the LXP and a CSR and sustainable development block is in progress. To go further, Excelia has registered a brand called ILE (immersive learning experience) to label the quality of immersive experiences, both on campus and in the digital world.

A transversal organization

The plan also provides for the implementation of a digital workplace, a single, omnichannel and multi-terminal portal for all the group’s communities, students, educational and administrative teams. This will allow information to be shared, but also to facilitate the online registration process. “Our priority is to ensure a continuity of experience when the user moves from one platform to another”, emphasized Anthony Hié. Finally, to support its data-driven strategy and meet the analytical challenge, Excelia has launched a datalab that brings together business experts and more technical profiles, such as data engineers, data scientists and data architects. This interdisciplinary laboratory is aimed at all the services of the group, both the educational departments and the financial, marketing and other organizational processes. It aims to leverage data to respond to new uses and co-build future models of value creation. “Data can be used to make strategic decisions, but it can also help personalize and individualize teaching paths,” said Anthony Hié.

To manage these transformations, the Excelia group has also set up a cross-functional organization around an important digital transformation department. This combines the traditional functions of an ISD with support and innovation missions, in connection with human resources and teaching professions. Alongside the DSI, two new poles concretize this ambition. A business support and change management center aims to facilitate the adoption of methods and tools, while a digital, edtech and experiential innovation center manages the digitization of lessons with the educational engineering team, also integrating new skills (metavers, data, devops, etc.). The Human Resources and Transformation Department (DRHT) is closely associated with the plan, in order to develop a digital culture at all levels of the organization. Among the actions implemented is the creation of a mirror organization at the level of project manager, which reflects that of the digital transformation department, with pairs that bring together digital skills and lines of business. An internal change support unit was also created. According to Laura Zdroui, this cell is responsible for “educating all employees in project management, implementing co-construction workshops or even developing communities of ambassadors around cross-functional projects”. Finally, the DRHT also undertakes to acquire the skills necessary to carry out the transformation, through the recruitment of short-term rare profiles and long-term internal training (from 9 to 18 months).

In line with its transformation plan, Excelia Digital School also wanted to integrate training on immersive technologies into its courses. From 2022 to 2023, the school will launch workshops and masterclasses on virtual reality and metaverses. In 2023-2024 it will offer modules and specializations in these fields, then in September 2024 a degree in “virtual reality and metaverse”.

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