Communicate ongoing evaluations via email from an online spreadsheet

[Originally published in French]

As much as possible, I practice ongoing or continuous assessment of students’ work (ongoing feedback). The aim is to accompany students in the regular improvement of their work, from the draft to the final version.
N.B. : I do not give in to the fetishism of the “finished” work, not forgetting Borges’ warning that the idea of a finished work is “fatigue or superstition”…

It is, therefore, a “conversational” assessment, as students can respond. This allows feedback to be provided during the task itself. This supports student learning, as Alice Keeler reminds us:

This approach is now facilitated by digital applications, including online word processing, which allows collaboration and the addition of comments. I use Google Docs in GSuite and Word online in O365 (education versions). GSuite also allows direct mail operations directly online from the GSheets spreadsheet. In its current version, 0365 does not allow it (this would however be possible via SharePoint, associated with Microsoft Flow).

Here is an example of a fairly simple device, which I use very regularly.

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Communiquer par courriels des évaluations continues à partir d’un tableur en ligne

Je pratique autant que possible l’évaluation suivie ou continue des travaux d’élèves, que les anglophones appelent parfois « ongoing feedback« . Il s’agit d’accompagner les élèves dans l’amélioration régulière de leurs travaux, depuis le brouillon jusqu’à la version finale.

N.B. : Je ne cède pas pour autant au fétichisme de l’œuvre « achevée », n’oubliant pas l’avertissement de Borges que l’idée d’œuvre achevée relève « de la fatigue ou de la superstition » (comme le rappelle Gérad Genette dans Figures III, 1972).

Il s’agit d’une évaluation « conversationnelle », puisque les élèves peuvent répondre. On peut ainsi fournir des rétroactions durant la réalisation même de la tâche. Cela soutient l’apprentissage des élèves, comme le rappelle Alice Keeler :

Cette démarche est désormais facilitée par les applications numériques, et notamment par les traitements de textes en ligne, qui permettent la collaboration et l’ajout de commentaires. J’utilise pour ma part Google Docs dans GSuite et Word online dans O365 (versions éducation). GSuite permet en outre des opérations de publipostage directement en ligne, à partir du tableur GSheets. Dans sa version actuelle, 0365 ne le permet pas (cela serait cependant possible via SharePoint, associé à Microsoft Flow).

Voici un exemple de dispositif assez simple, que j’utilise très régulièrement.

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Évaluer avec O365 : état des lieux

Sur la base de mon expérience et de l’état actuel des outils et des services, je propose un état des lieux de l’utilisation d’Office 365 (version éducation) comme espace numérique d’apprentissage (ENA, LMS), et plus particulièrement comme moyen de distribuer, de collecter et d’évaluer des exercices dans le cadre d’évaluations formatives.
Office 365 permet organiser le travail des élèves de différentes manières, avec différents outils. Les outils principaux sont : OneNote (avec le module complémentaire Bloc-notes OneNote pour la classe) et Teams. On peut aussi utiliser le courriel (Outlook), le traitement de texte (Word Online) et le tableur (Excel online), ainsi que les formulaires (Forms). On peut enfin, de manière plus avancée, explorer les usages de Sharepoint et de PowerApps.

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Assessing students with O365: my (current) state of the art

[Originally published in French]

Based on my experience and the current state of tools and services, I propose an inventory of the use of Office 365 (education version) as a digital learning space (or Learning Management System), and more particularly as a means of distributing, collecting and assessing exercises as part of formative evaluations.

Office 365 allows students to organize their work in different ways, with different tools. The main tools are OneNote (with the OneNote Notepad add-on for the class) and Teams. You can also use e-mail (Outlook), word processing (Word Online) and spreadsheet (Excel Online), as well as forms. We can finally, in a more advanced way, explore the uses of Sharepoint and PowerApps.


OneNote is an exceptionally versatile application that can be widely recommended. However, I hardly use it to follow the students’ work, because my teaching (philosophy in high school) focuses on writing exercises that I have to follow and mark up. However, in my experience, OneNote does not allow fine tracking of contributions, unlike one can do with MS Word. It does not allow to annotate a word or a sentence by a comment bubble that can give rise to a discussion. There are no automatic notifications or revision histories (at this time). As a result, monitoring students’ work is quite tedious.


Teams, introduced in 2017, is an application in continuous improvement and already very functional. This platform enables collaboration (via teams and thematic channels) and dynamic integration of multiple external services (via tabs).


Teams has a special homework management module. For example, an assignment can be distributed to students in a group, including a template or canvas document that will be duplicated for each student. Students’ submissions can then be tracked, with or without permission for late submission. Each work can be examined directly from the Teams interface.

In my experience, it works quite well. Students can write directly into the Teams interface on a Word Online document, then hand it in. The teacher can then review and annotate the work.

However, I note some limitations (which make Google Classroom a more advanced platform than Teams or OneNote, so far, for fine and continuous collaborative work).

• Students cannot see the comments posted in the document until the teacher has returned all the contributions to the whole class.

• The document returned by the teacher is automatically set to read-only for the student. The latter cannot then directly edit the document online (the teacher can nevertheless), but only with the desktop Word application (an improvement on this subject is announced by the Teams development team). The changes will be synchronized if the student logged into his account when Word was launched.

• The student may not resubmit a work, explicitly (with a notification for the teacher). This request seems to be being implemented and has been requested for quite some time.

The management of the work process is, therefore, a bit cumbersome. Indeed, the student must inform the teacher that he has made changes (the teacher not seeing this information spontaneously). It can do this via Teams’ chat service or via email, — but this will scatter information and complicate the follow-up work for the teacher (for example, the link to the document will not be automatically integrated).

In short, following a continuous writing activity can be quite laborious with Teams, in the state of features.

Forms + Word/Excel/Powerpoint…

One effective solution — the one I currently prefer — is to ask students to communicate their work via a form (Microsoft Forms) made available to them. Students communicate the link to share their work (hosted in OneDrive: very simple operation). The teacher will have been able to send them a document template beforehand (they will have uploaded it to their OneDrive).

The advantage is that submissions are archived in the spreadsheet associated with the form, which automatically enters the student’s identity (in the case of an O365 Education account). The form may contain other fields, such as whether it is a first submission or an improvement, as well as any other information the teacher deems useful.

The teacher can use the worksheet to enter evaluation and monitoring elements. It can group students according to the state and level of their work.

To communicate to students the status of their work (by reminding them of the link to their document), the teacher can do a mail merge.

For my part, I switch at this stage the data on Google Sheets, because I can then use an add-on module such as YAMM or FormMule. Microsoft does not currently allow direct mail to be generated using only online services.


N.B.: work by email only is to be avoided, because tracking becomes really tedious (unless perhaps a very rigorous nomenclature for email objects and document names). In the case of e-mail communication, the student must at least communicate the document sharing link, without directly attaching the document (this makes collaboration a little easier; the link can also be retrieved).

SharePoint & PowerApps

We are entering more advanced uses here, which I am only beginning to explore. I hope to be able to communicate on this subject soon. The idea is to ask students to submit their work via a form-like interface created with PowerApps, then process the submissions in SharePoint, with individualized mailing possibilities.

Let’s talk if you want about the best ways to organize work with students on O365.

Pechakucha : mon école en 2030

ludovia-affiche-a3-2018-hep-vaudA l’invitation de Lyonel Kaufmann (professeur formateur à la HEP-VD à Lausanne en Suisse), je me suis livré à l’exercice d’un Pechakucha sur le thème « Mon école en 2030 à l’heure des neurosciences et de l’intelligence artificielle« . Il s’agissait d’une séance de fin de journée lors de la première édition de, en compagnie de 6 autres intervenants (merci à Christophe Batier pour la mise en ligne de ces interventions) :

@lyonelkaufmann .

Le Pechakucha (du japonais ペチャクチャ : « bavardage », « son de la conversation ») est un format synchronisant une présentation orale à la projection de 20 diapositives se succédant toutes les 20 secondes, de préférence sans effets d’animations. La présentation dure ainsi exactement 6 minutes et 40 secondes. Ce format impose de l’éloquence, un sens de la narration, du rythme, de la concision, tout autant que de l’expression graphique.

Présenter sa vision de l’école en 2030 est un exercice de prospective, exposant forcément à quelque ridicule… Il permet cependant de mettre à plat certaines idées.

J’ai souligné l’importance d’appuyer l’enseignement sur des acquis scientifiques, notamment par la formation initiale et continue et par la recherche collaborative entre les enseignants.

J’ai cependant souligné l’importance de ne pas céder à un tentation scientiste par laquelle on jeterait dans linfrascientifiqutout ce qui ne relèverait pas des sciences cognitives. On peut en effet craindre une telle attitude en lisant certaines déclarations, telles que celle de Laurent Alexandre : « À partir de 2030 environ, l’éducation va sortir de l’âge du bricolage pour devenir une science exacte » (La guerre des intelligences, J.-C. Lattès, 2017). J’ai opposé en ce sens le modèle du soleil — la vérité unique — au modèle de la constellation — la vérité plurielle des sciences (je tiens cette opposition de Michel Serres, qu’il expose aussi dans cet entretien filmé).

J’ai aussi formulé l’espoir de voir l’école perdurer comme communauté d’apprentissage, mais en dépassant la classe unique. L’école de 2030, espérons-le, pourrait être plus efficace et perdre moins d’énergie (je tiens ce souci thermodynamique de conversations avec Jean-Louis Schaff).

Aidée des médiations de l’intelligence artificielle, elle pourrait permettre une plus grande individualisation des apprentissages (vers un préceptorat généralisé) et augmenter la diversité et la qualité des interactions sociales.

L’école ne disparaîtrait pas, mais retrouverait son essence, telle que formulée par Ken Robinson : « School: any community of people that comes together to learn with each other. » (Ken Robinson & Lou Aronica, Creative Schools: The Grassroots Revolution That’s Transforming Education, 2015).


The union of the real and the virtual

[Originally published in French]

The opposition between the real and the virtual is not really relevant, either from the point of view of our perceptive culture of the virtual or from the point of view of the history of the concept of the virtual. In fact, the virtual is a soft modality of reality, which can allow us to better tame its hard and current modality. Then let us celebrate the union of the real and the virtual!

According to our current perceptive culture: the virtual is not opposed to the real.

Reality is what it is. It is the set of things (res) and present events. It’s the totality of everything that happens. As such, the reality is never perceived. Montaigne, better than all, reminds us:

“we have no communication with being (nous n’avons aucune communication à l’être)” — Montaigne, Essais, II, 12.

If reality remains for us an unreachable horizon, we nevertheless reach phenomenal realities, individual or collective representations of reality. These representations are influenced by our nature, by our personal history, by our social and cultural environment, and also by our techniques.

Indeed, our devices are « phenomenotechnical devices » (Stéphane Vial, L’être et l’écran, 2013), because they influence our relationship to the world and the way phenomena appear to us. Therefore, any great technological revolution is at the same time an ontophanic revolution, affecting the way beings (in Greek: ontos) appear (phaïnô).

“Virtuality is an integral part of the ontophany of the contemporary world conditioned by digital devices. (La virtualité fait partie intégrante de l’ontophanie du monde contemporain conditionnée par les appareils numériques.)» (Vial, 2013).

We are now used to simulation via interfaces. In fact, the so-called « digital natives » generation has been used since its birth to seeing the world through screens and manipulating computer-generated simulations of reality via digital interfaces. For this generation, these are real things that are seen on the screens.

As Sherry Turkle (Life on the Screen) put it back in 1995:

“We have learned to take things at interface value.” (Turkle, 1995)

We have entered a culture of simulation, in which we increasingly substitute representations of reality for reality itself.

In fact, our relationship to virtual (computer simulated) objects is not affected by a feeling of unreality. The culture of simulation thus leads us to take what we see on screen for cash (« at interface value« ). In the culture of simulation, what works for us has all the reality we need.

According to the history of the concept: the virtual is not opposed to the real.

The concept of virtual goes back to Aristotle’s philosophy. Aristotle needed to forge this concept to find a solution to the antinomy of being asked by Parmenides: « Being is and Non-Being is not ».

To get out of this radical opposition, Aristotle proposes to define being in two ways: being in act (Greek: energeai ; Latin: in actu) and being in power (Greek: dunamis ; Latin: in potentia). The potential being exists as a promise, without manifest actualisation.

Thus, the marble block contains virtually the statue that will be actualized by the sculptor. Similarly, the tree exists virtually in the seed. Each time, the virtual exists, but without yet being there: potential existence is a real existence, the virtual is a real way of being. Scholasticism (medieval philosophy inspired by Aristotle) thus contrasts virtualis (from the Latin virtus: strength, power), not with « real », but with « actual ». Aristotle and all Western philosophy thus do not oppose the virtual to the real, but to the act.

However, panicked by digital simulation devices, many thinkers have affected the virtual by a coefficient of unreality. The virtual has often been opposed to the real and brought closer to the fictional, the imaginary, the dangerous simulacrum, the artificial, the illusory false, the inauthentic.

On the contrary, let us celebrate the union of the real and the virtual. The virtual is a soft modality of reality, which can allow us to better tame its hard and current modality.

On the same subject, see also the interview of François Jourde conducted during C2E 2017, an event organized by the Laboratoire Techné de l’université de Poitiers:

Quelques idées pour utiliser un service d’interaction et de rétroaction en classe

Dans le cadre de mes cours (philosophie en fin de secondaire), j’utilise régulièrement des services en ligne d’interaction. Je tente de tenir la liste de tels services sur cette carte (voir en particulier les dispositifs fonctionnant avec les terminaux mobiles des élèves). J’affectionne particulièrement Beekast pour son efficacité : via une interface ergonomique, il propose de nombreuses fonctionnalités permettant de dynamiser les cours (celles-ci sont exposées sur le site de Beekast). Les élèves participent avec leurs appareils connectés (essentiellement des smartphones, via le réseau Wifi).

Je propose ici quelques conseils d’utilisation de Beekast, basés sur mon expérience. Ces activités sont possibles avec la version gratuite de Beekast (comme avec éventuellement d’autres services d’interaction).

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