Deck- : ESSEC Paris’s virtual classroom revolutionises distance learning

SOURCE: Neon Brand/Unsplash
The deck- virtual classroom will open up many more possibilities for distance learning.

By U2B Staff 

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Thanks to universities investing in more distance learning programmes, higher education has become more accessible. Now, students are able to learn and earn their degrees from their very own bedrooms while listening to lectures on their devices. 

As of late, distance learning, which encompasses e-learning and mobile learning courses have always been treated as a one-to-one mode of learning where interaction between the professor and classroom is somehow limited as opposed to being in a physical class. 

Despite that, the ESSEC Executive Education campus at La Défense in Paris has come up with an innovative virtual classroom that will simulate a physical classroom, allowing professors to conduct lively, interactive sessions with students despite the distance between them. 

This virtual classroom named the deck- is located in ESSEC’s fifth campus, the Augmented Digital Campus. It is fitted with the latest technology to facilitate one of the largest simulated classrooms to date thanks to the Initiative d’Excellence en Formations Innovantes (IDEFI) programme in partnership with the ComUE Paris Seine


The deck- can accommodate up to 84 participants and involves the use of a desk and two digital boards as tools for projecting pedagogical material. 

A wall of screens will face the professor where each student’s face is displayed side by side on these screens as if they were sitting on benches of a lecture hall. When in reality, these students are accessing the class remotely from locations across the globe. 

The layout of this augmented reality classroom is flexible enough to facilitate interaction and sharing sessions between the students and the professor. 

distance learning
Students will be able to participate in sessions from wherever they are. Source: Hanny Naibaho/Unsplash.

Each participant can raise their hand, speak up, or interact on the digital board as if they were physically present. The professor can then manipulate the class as he or she pleases, by either giving a lecture, creating surveys or even form small groups and consult them in turn before a group discussion. 

The professor won’t have to worry about the technical aspect of operating the deck- as there will be a “producer” who will be present during each session to take care of all the technical elements. 

This way, the professor has the freedom to manipulate the interactivity of their course without worrying about organisational burdens. 

Completely unique to the region in terms of its size and the number of participants it can accommodate, the Deck 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 ESSEC Business School Dean and President Vincenzo Esposito Vinzi.

“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,” added ESSEC Dean for post-experience programmes Thomas Jeanjean.

“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 ComUe Paris Seine Vice-President Bruno Fiorio who is in charge of lifelong learning.

“It allows us to create virtual spaces that still permit participants to interact.” 

The deck- was launched on 4 November last year and since then has been gradually implemented by professors in the institution for their courses. The first few sessions were mainly used for customised programmes for partner companies or open online programmes.