The return of distance education on Tuesday morning was disrupted by numerous computer bugs, due to inaccessible or failing digital servers.
“There you go, it crashed at 9:02 am”. “J‘was ready to teach at a distance, but this was obviously not the case for National Education. ” Here is the kind of comments that we could read Tuesday April 6 on social networks. Home school, (re) set up as part of the new confinement, has in fact started in a big mess. Teachers, parents and students have reported numerous computer bugs on distance education platforms.
Slowdowns or total paralysis of digital workspaces (ENT), managed by local authorities, were spotted Tuesday morning in at least six regions, franceinfo learned from Snes-FSU. According to the main secondary teachers’ union, problems have been observed in the Ile-de-France, Hauts-de-France, Occitanie, Normandy, Center and Grand Est regions.
However, access to ENTs is essential to ensure the smooth running of distance courses since they allow, for example, teachers to interact with students and parents, send documents or make videoconference calls.
Other distance education services, such as “My class at home”, proposed by the Cned (National Center for Distance Learning), or Pronote, the school life management system, were also affected by these dysfunctions.
“Overload” of computer servers
“It’s annoying to find yourself with tools that don’t work when you have prepared all the lessons”, storm Laurent *, professor in a college in Normandy, with franceinfo. “After two and a half hours”, and after multiple attempts, this teacher finally managed to teach his course with ten students, “The most stubborn, who have tried several times to connect”.
“This morning, I had no access to anything on the ENT”, deplores Thomas *. However, this teacher in a primary school in the Lille area had “Anticipated” from last week the passage of distance learning, in “Familiarizing” students with the platform’s videoconferencing tool. “We did all this for nothing”, breathes the teacher, who finally had to resort to the Cned device.
But how to explain these technical difficulties? The Ile-de-France region discusses with franceinfo “An overload incident” due to massive connections on the ENT “at the same time”. Manoëlle Martin, vice-president of the Hauts-de-France region, also reports a flow management problem, with “One million simultaneous connections to the ENT at 9:15 am”. “We had anticipated [une augmentation du trafic], but not at this point ”, concedes the chosen one.
The Minister of Education has also advanced that part of the dysfunctions were linked to the fire in March which affected the operator OVH, which hosts part of the ENTs. A justification strongly denied by the boss of the company, on Twitter, who affirms that some “Affected ENT regions and unavailable applications are not hosted by OVHcloud”.
For his part, Jean-Michel Blanquer also denounced “Computer attacks apparently from abroad to prevent the servers from functioning”, citing in particular the case of “My class at home”, but without giving more details at this stage. “Technical work is being done to restore this”, simply explained the Minister of Education.
“The impression that nothing has been done since the first confinement”
For teachers, the situation has an air of déjà vu. Homeschooling got off to a bad start last March, too, with saturated networks and inaccessible workspaces. “A year ago, you could be indulgent and understand that [les outils numériques] were not configured to cope with the influx of connections ”, explains Gwenaël Le Paih, teacher in Brittany and member of Snes-FSU. “There, we have the impression that nothing has been done since the first confinement”, Laurent adds.
Over the hours, Tuesday, teachers interviewed by franceinfo spoke of an improvement in the situation, even if problems remained. In Ile-de-France, access to ENT has resumed “gradually”, indicated the region at midday. “We increased the flow even more”, explains for her part the vice-president of the Hauts-de-France region. It will be difficult to “Realize tomorrow” if the problem is entirely resolved, since the courses – and therefore the connections – are traditionally less numerous on Wednesday, underlines Manoëlle Martin, who however hopes for a return to normal before Thursday.
Time is running out, according to teachers, who fear that students will drop out. “If they see that the ENTs are malfunctioning, that won’t encourage them to try to reconnect”, fear Gwenaël Le Paih. Especially since school holidays are scheduled from Friday evening, recalls the teacher, not really helped by his hierarchy: “We didn’t have any specific instructions, apart from trying to reconnect at another time.”
While waiting for a complete restoration of access to the platforms, the teachers are therefore trying to adapt. Laurent, himself, assures that he exchanges with his colleagues for “Tweaking solutions” to his connection problems. Before really moving to the remote, the time is still at “Demerdential”.
* The first names have been changed at the request of the interested parties