I am a Medical Doctor and Professor of Immunology. I am 72 years old and for over 15 years I have been part of the Sino-French training program, travelling between Nancy, Wuhan and Kunming as an associate at the Faculty of Medicine, Université Lorraine in France, Wuhan Medical School of Wuhan University, Zhongnan Hospital in Hubei, and Kunming Medical University in Yunnan.
I am interested in medicine, immunology, the French language, content curation, active learning, computer and media Literacy, microlearning and blended learning.
I found out about EPALE through the internet and curation activities and I registered with the platform in March 2018. EPALE is one on the resources I have been using to pursue my interest in life-long learning regarding adult education.
Naturally the COVID-19 pandemic cancelled any scheduled project of face to face teaching sessions with the Nancy Faculty professors who were due to travel from France to China, as well as the scheduled local courses with a French professor teaching in Wuhan (Samuel François), who decided to stay in China while students were in lockdown with their families following the Spring Festival.
We thus decided quickly in mid-February to launch a distance learning project offering students resources and exercises so that they could keep up their language and, also their biomedical knowledge skills.
This project is based on the activity of content curation pursued for several years on topics of interest such as immunology for medical students in Nancy-Lorraine, Wuhan, Hubei, and Kunming, Yunnan among others, building a common narrative story from this program.
Content curation has an increasing number of applications from teachers and students from higher education institutions and corporate settings who want to develop their digital and IT skills as well as collective knowledge in the context of information overload and fake news. We have been using a very efficient and convivial content curation tool, accessible in China and developed in France and the USA called Scoop.it. We have been using it for the past 8 years to build databases of curated scientific knowledge resources and more recently to train students in media and IT skills.
Over the past two months we have been offering students selected resources, material and links every week, and we will continue to do so.
Topics covered include art and architecture in Nancy, Mirabelle a local fruit from Lorraine, sweets and specialties from Lorraine, the historical French railway in Yunnan, antiviral immunology, actions by the French consulate in Wuhan, robotic surgery, French companies in Hubei, plasma cells in immunology and haematology…
We ask the students to read the texts and to find answers to specific questions. We collect the answers in the cloud and/or by e-mail, and then correct and improve individual answers which we then send back to the students by e-mail.
The French teacher in Wuhan is offering other exercises and maintaining direct contact with students using Skype.
Reactions from students isolated with their families have been, in most cases, very positive.
The students have committed to the project despite having mandatory virtual courses organised by their Faculty, and having to prepare for examinations in a difficult context.
The project was also supported by the Medical Faculties in Wuhan and Kunming, the French Embassy in Beijing and the French Consulate in Wuhan, which has been the only foreign body to remain in Wuhan.
This innovative distance teaching and learning approach is helping medical students to keep up their (already very good) fluency in French language, prepare for the Alliance Française language competency examinations and further build friendly relationships with students, teachers, and trainees from other medical schools, universities and hospitals, and countries.
For the next semester, we are thinking about organising online distance teaching courses with other teachers and members of the program, depending on travel limitations which might still be in place in the near future.
There are clear differences between distance learning and class-room style lessons, the latter having been given during a very short stay in China. However, in this case the distance learning was made easier by previous direct contact with the students which meant there was already a relationship of confidence between teachers and learners.
Such distance learning should continue in the future in order to maintain regular relationships in the long run, even if WeChat and other social networking tools already tend to keep alumni of this program connected.