A MOOC based on programming tutorials: educational innovation at Mines Saint-Étienne


Mines Saint-Étienne has developed a fully integrated MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) that lets learners discover image processing and complete practical activities with a standard browser.

Yann Gavet, professor at Mines Saint-Étienne, developed the 15-hour online course for post-secondary school students who want to learn the basics of automatic image processing(1). But what makes this MOOC so unique is its fully integrated platform: “Students can access it and complete all the programming exercises and exams on their web browser, without having to reconfigure their computer or install any software,” Gavet explains. The MOOC tools integrate several free software programs, such as jupyter, nbgrader and graffiti, which help save time: “The fully online aspect prevents faculty from having to answer recurrent questions that are of little value regarding the configuration of students’ computers, while still providing them with easy and intuitive access,” he says.

The platform integrates three features in addition to the conventional MOOC video and document format that are just a click away. The first feature is “an online development environment for the Python programming language, offering practical exercises to help students improve. The second is an automatic test and correction system,” the professor explains. The third feature is a “codecast” system: “it’s an audio recording of the teacher programming, which simultaneously displays the lines of code on the student’s screen. There is also an interactive aspect because students can pause it at any time to modify the code as they wish, test a value and get to grips with it,” he says.

Configured for large-scale with help from a specialized company and hosted at Mines Saint-Etienne, the platform can accommodate up to 5,000 simultaneous connections.

Building on this success, the professor plans to develop two new, more advanced image processing courses. “These tools introduce a practical learning component and bring IMT to the forefront of online training in image processing,” he concludes.

(1) Automatic image processing is a discipline of computer science and applied mathematics, which comprises all the tasks for automatically analyzing and extracting information from an image. It is used for example to recognize an object in an image, particularly in the context of machine learning.

This is an educational innovation project submitted for the 2021 IMT Teaching Awards.

Illustrator: Lionel Tarchala