«E-learning is a highly motivating endeavour and, despite all its technical and personnel drawbacks, the project has proved extremely challenging. The key is probably to find responsible and innovative people, ready to commit and explore new pedagogical paths. It is also crucial to have a good local NTE, which is the case in Fribourg where we are lucky to have helpful Moodle specialists. Finally, I would strongly recommend attending specialized classes on e-learning to gain the kind of pedagogical skills one needs to reach interesting results.
One of the major difficulties has been the platform. The project’s initiators had spent quite a bit of time constructing their own platform with good didactical results, but important technical problems which could not be solved. In spring 2005, the decision was taken therefore to swap to Moodle and to transpose all courses one by one onto the new platform. This cost a lot of time and energy, and has resulted in a one-year delay in the project. It has, however, proved very useful since our project has since then benefited from the support of our local NTE. An important lesson to be learnt in that respect is that technical aspects must really remain in the hands of technical experts; lawyers (even if they know some computer technology) should focus primarily on law.
Another difficulty experienced in the project was a complete change of personnel. The first project leader, Prof. Nicolas Michel, left the project in 2004 to take up his position as Deputy Secretary General of the UN and the different coordinators and lecturers who have worked on the project from the beginning left shortly hereafter. From 2004 to 2005, the project was led by Prof. Pichonnaz and coordinated by Sabine Premand Sperandio. When Prof. Nicolas Michel was replaced in October 2005 by Prof. Samantha Besson, she joined Prof. Pichonnaz in the project’s leadership. Since 2005, and although the new coordinator left for a permanent job in the legal practice in March 2006, the project has been flourishing again. This renewed success owes a lot to the essential input of five “sous-assistants” who have helped transpose courses from one platform onto the next and construct new courses: Louis Burrus, Marynelle Debétaz, Julien Duruz, Benoît Morier-Genoud and Vincent Yerly.
Finally, other lesser difficulties pertained to the project’s partnerships in Switzerland and in France, as the delays that occurred in the project’s realization led to difficulties. Later, when Moodle was chosen to replace the project’s own platform, that choice alienated some of our partners, who were bound, on grounds of national conventions or university decisions, to work with other open-source platforms like Accolad or Claroline. We have now luckily found ways to maintain our partnerships despite the many platforms and a joint Master project is in the pipeline.»