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2016 Serge Hocquenghem Prize


Didier Roy: education by and for digital science

Didier Roy has been awarded the 2016 Serge Hocquenghem prize for his work in computer science and education sciences.

He was all the more “happy and honoured” to receive this prize as it is named after the creator of Geoplan, an innovative geometry software tool that this former mathematics teacher adopted as soon as it came out (more than twenty years ago). “This tool did a great deal to stimulate my interest in the use of digital technology in teaching,” he remembers.

Now a researcher and member of the Flowers project team at the Inria Bordeaux - Sud-Ouest centre, Didier Roy develops tools and media for teaching mathematics, computer science and robotics. The practical experience he has acquired has put him at the heart of the problems encountered by professionals and stakeholders in education. Enthusiastic, creative and friendly, his top priority is to keep students in education and prevent dropout. The creator of Inirobot and many other free, open-source teaching resources, such as Poppy Education, he is an advocate of education by and for digital science. Didier Roy is also behind the organisation of the “Robotique & Education” symposium held in Bordeaux every year. Last but not least, he is involved in the Class’Code programme which trains teachers in computational thinking. “Teachers make no mistake about the programme and are very keen and receptive,” he is pleased to note.

The projects already developed are built on three basic pillars which are the guarantee of their success:

  • the micro-world of learning introduced by the robot, on the dividing line between the digital and physical worlds. It provides feedback to the students, who experiment their activities with the robot to make progress
  • the investigative approach places the students in the position of apprentice researchers; they make assumptions that they can test, prove or disprove. This arouses their curiosity and gives them the pleasure of seeking and finding;
  • lastly, the cooperative approach means that students can be divided into apprentice researcher teams, in which issues are debated and argued out, and where difficulties are shared by several students. This sustains motivation and restores errors to their initial status as a step in the learning process, and not as a failure. 

These projects result from the research carried out by the Flowers team and, more specifically, from the dedication of team leader Pierre-Yves Oudeyer and that of the teachers involved. Didier Roy modestly makes a point of saying that “without these teams, none of this would have been possible.”

Serge Hocquenghem Prize

The Serge Hocquenghem prize is awarded every two years in recognition of the work of science teachers in secondary to university education, or of people who popularise science, develop tools, and experiment with promising uses of existing tools intended for all stakeholders in the education community. It is aimed at:

  • promoting pedagogically relevant, innovative use of digital tools for the sciences;
  • helping to ensure that mathematics - and more broadly science - teaching benefits more from the digital revolution that is shaking up traditional teaching methods;
  • consolidating, prolonging and generalising the development of pedagogically promising tools;
  • promoting and disseminating pedagogically relevant uses of tools that are little known and under-used.

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