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30.04.20

Epitech Brussels in the Time of Covid-19

Epitech Brussels, like all higher education institutions, has closed the doors of its campus as part of the fight against the spread of Covid-19. However, 100% of educational activities continue remotely.

These past 6 weeks have been a test of resilience on so many levels for individuals, enterprises, and states. Unforeseen circumstances demand a great capacity for adaptation and Epitech has proven that it is well equipped to deal with extraordinary situations such as a lockdown due to a pandemic.

In order to avoid a standstill of its students’ education, Epitech’s organisational efforts were prompt and sustained, the magnitude of the situation was well assessed, and worst-case scenarios have been envisioned. Short-term and long term solutions have been found to manage the situation on an institutional level, and many Epitech campuses even made the effort to share their expertise with any organisation and professional in need of help in dealing with remote work.

Epitech was not taken aback by the duration of the confinement period.

An unconventional school in peculiar times

In an already unconventional learning system, major changes are less likely to be perceived as particularly destabilizing.

At Epitech, the learning process is above all practical and collaborative. Knowledge is not transmitted in a one-sided, top-down manner. Our students learn together, with the most experienced upper-year students explaining to beginners how a particular technology or programming language works. Within this system, the teaching staff’s role is to manage, optimise and continually improve the work done by the students on their projects, and help them at all times by providing guidance. This project-based teaching method, which relies on peer-to-peer learning and nearly constant teamwork, naturally sees proximity as a great advantage.

For many of Epitech Brussels’ students, the shift in the medium through which information is exchanged was a disturbing element. It is unquestionably easier to communicate with your teammates while being on campus, and it is also more fun!

In normal times, the Epitech Brussels campus looks like this:

Epitech_Brussels_students

Today, it looks more like this:

Epitech_Brussels_students_team_pedagogy

On the other hand, computer programming is one of the fields in which remote work is most seen as normal, and our students are acclimatised to the “nomadic” work practices required by companies and learn flexibility and agility relatively early on. Their capacity to work remotely as part of a team is greatly put to test during the 4th year of the Epitech course, which is spent abroad, in one of Epitech’s 100 partner universities. In order to collaborate during this year, besides the workload, students must also manage completely different schedules and take account of different time zones. Epitech is no stranger to remote work.

Communication is key!

Working from the comfort of one’s pyjama has its upsides and its downsides. While most of Epitech Brussels’ students agree that the hardest days are behind us and that we have all gotten used to life in confinement, staying on track is a constant challenge.

It is no surprise that the students who fare well in time of confinement are those who keep in touch with their classmates to work as well as just to have a break and have fun.

To keep students motivated, the pedagogical team has scheduled daily individual meetings in the morning, as communication is essential to avoiding a lack of motivation. Some students have confessed to working even more than before the lockdown. Julien Stuckens, second-year student and member of the teaching staff, has even admitted to being constantly available to answer his fellow student’s questions.

Activities within the Epitech Innovation Hub have also continued thanks to fourth-year student Romain Lugas who has taken the initiative to oversee the organisation of workshops on subjects like computer security, video game programming, and VR.

Epitech Brussels is above all a community, a family, a place to share knowledge and skills, and no matter how well we adjusted to the situation, everyone is eager to resume social life on campus under normal conditions.

A glass half full

Epitech’s values – solidarity, excellence, courage – have proven, time and time again, to be a propelling force no matter the situation, and this period of confinement has been no exception.

There are many lessons to be learned following this difficult period which has proven itself a test of maturity for our students. Some discovered earlier than expected what working remotely feels like and are now prepared for what lies ahead. Quentin Deneys, first-year student, is proud of his productivity level and the way he managed work-life balance during lockdown. We all enjoyed not having to commute every day and having some flexibility in one’s schedule is a blessing.

Here are some tips from our students for staying sane during lockdown:

  • do some sports!
  • keep in touch with your teammates!
  • be more mentally present during family time!
  • take care of yourself!
  • do not forget to have a break now and then!
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