On November 4, 2019, ESSEC inaugurated the deck-, the virtual classroom of the Augmented Digital Campus, on its ESSEC Executive Education campus at La Défense in Paris. This equipment, which is new in France, enables lively and interactive distance learning courses for professors and class participants, despite the distance between them.

The platform, which has been functional for several months, is an up-to-date innovative solution in light of the growth in online learning needs during the Covid-19 outbreak.

Spread out in front of the professor are a desk, two digital boards, all the necessary tools for projecting pedagogical material, and up to 84 participants. At first glance, the professor is on familiar territory in this new "lecture hall" of the ESSEC Executive Education Campus in La Défense. But one notable difference is immediately apparent. The participants are not physically present! A wall of screens faces the professor. Participants connect remotely from all four corners of the world. Each person’s face is displayed distinctly, side by side, as if they are sitting on the benches of a lecture hall. 

Moreover, the session is not limited to a lecture hall. The layout of the room and its technical capabilities have been designed to encourage interaction and sharing. Each participant can raise their hand, speak up, or interact on the digital board. The professor can give a lecture, create surveys, or even form small groups and consult them in turn, before proceeding with a group discussion. Assisted by a "producer", who takes care of the technical aspects of the room, professors can devote themselves fully to the animation and interactivity of their course, without worrying about organisational details.

This new room – unique in the world in terms of its size and the number of participants it can accommodate – is the virtual classroom of ESSEC's fifth campus, the Augmented Digital Campus. Called the deck-, this equipment was built thanks to the Initiative d'Excellence en Formations Innovantes (IDEFI) programme, obtained in partnership with the ComUE Paris Seine. This new element of the Augmented Digital Campus reaffirms ESSEC's commitment to providing quality distance learning that is accessible anywhere, anytime, and on any device.

"This is another step toward creating an online learning experience as rich as the one offered on ESSEC's four physical campuses," said Vincenzo Esposito Vinzi, Dean and President of ESSEC Business School. “Thanks to innovative technology and an architectural design unique in France, ESSEC can now offer an online learning experience that is not diminished in quality by distance. It is based on everything that makes up the ESSEC experience: courses, personal support, interactions between students, participants and professors, and shared moments."

"ESSEC's ambition is to reinvent an educational model that remains true to our values," says Thomas Jeanjean, Dean for Post Experience programmes. “Our aim is to create a digital experience that is not a ‘second best’ education, but a rich, interesting, personal, and lively experience. It's about keeping the fundamental elements of a truly transformative experience and offering them in a virtual format."

"The DECK offers the opportunity to imagine new ways of distance learning, in particular ways of  ‘learning outside the walls’," said Bruno Fiorio, Vice-President of the ComUE Paris Seine in charge of Lifelong Learning. “It allows us to create virtual spaces that still permit participants to interact." 

Now fully operational, professors have gradually started taking advantage of the deck- for their courses. The first use cases include customised programmes for partner companies or open online programmes.