Stéphane Barbati is co-founder and CEO of Kalyzée, a technology company that designs and develops audiovisual solutions for hybrid course delivery in the education and training market.

Kalyzée is launching co-modal classrooms in French Guiana this autumn. Is this a revolution in distance learning ?

This project concerns secondary schools with major access problems due to distance and the local social context. It’s very important for us to have been selected and to be making an active contribution to reducing inequality in access to education. This project was originally developed for universities. The co-modal room was designed by academics, for academics, and can be used for lectures, tutorials or even interactive practical work.

This major project, costing 18 million euros over 5 years, 9 of which will be financed by France 2030, is supported by the French Guiana Academy and numerous regional and national partners, including the Guiana local authority, Aix Marseille University, EDF, CNES, Kalyzée…

Guyane Connectée aims to improve access to education in the most remote villages of French Guiana, by creating connected classrooms, linked to the main school, so that pupils can attend classes synchronously, from their village.

The idea is to meet the needs of teachers who want to teach in several classrooms at the same time. In this way, the co-modal course enables the learner to come to class or attend equivalent distance learning sessions synchronously or asynchronously.

What impact do these technological solutions have on school budgets ?

The Guyana project forced us to think in terms of resource consumption and economic impact. Given the local infrastructure, we had to considerably reduce both power consumption and the bandwidth required for the video stream. We also had to propose a highly resilient system to avoid any situation of tension or service interruption. We were inspired by Gérin-Lajoie et al’s review*, which summarizes over 10 years of R&D in the field of distance learning.

We have reduced electricity consumption by 75%, and we have considerably reduced the size of video files to limit bandwidth. This has both an energy and budgetary impact, as well as reducing the overall carbon footprint. In addition, we have been working for some time on a single pricing offer, regardless of the type of room to be connected or even its basic equipment. Finally, we offer to recover equipment (cameras, screens) already installed, and are able to integrate them into the co-modal installation, which involves an effort to recycle existing equipment. From a strictly budgetary point of view, our offer is very advantageous.

What are your prospects and plans for Kalyzée ?

Our aim is to become the benchmark player in classroom orchestration. By orchestration, we mean the ability to simply control all the technical resources of a classroom used simultaneously for face-to-face and distance learning. We need to free not only the teacher, but also the institution, from technical constraints linked to hardware. Hardware and software are often heterogeneous, which largely explains the difficulties encountered by teachers and technical support teams. We want to simplify all this. As industry experts, we aim to better integrate and harmonize hardware and software systems. We are committed to giving teachers access to all the functionalities of the software and hardware made available to them.

Today, we are working hard with AMU (Aix Marseille University), Perpignan and Montpellier to improve the agility and global orchestration of connected classrooms. The future lies not in distance learning versus face-to-face learning, but in co-modal learning. This is our conviction.

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