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Laurent Dairaine > Digital Learning at ISAE-SUPAERO

Digital Learning at ISAE-SUPAERO

dimanche 18 octobre 2015.

 In Brief

  • ISAE-SUPAERO provides higher Programs in order to train engineers highly qualified in the aerospace. Very high potential students are recruited by the most selective national-wide entrance exam which makes ISAE-SUPAERO a elite education program.
  • ISAE-SUPAERO wants to enhance its digital learning activity and its presence at international level.
  • Amont various digital learning projects, ISAE-SUPAERO has produced a first MOOC, named MOOC avion implemented in french language onto the EDX/FUN Platform
  • Several other projects are in progress : "The Airplane MOOC", the "Space MOOC", and other elearning and digital education projects.
  • ISAE-SUPAERO is looking at collaboration with international platform and digital learning actors to enhance its activity.


The ISAE-SUPAERO is the name for the French aerospace engineering school (grande école) in Toulouse. It provides higher Programs in order to train engineers highly qualified in the aerospace sectors and related fields ; dispensing specialized teaching, improvement and updating of knowledge ; conducting scientific research and technological development work within the framework of a scientific and technical information policy. It implements high-level Graduate Programs in engineering, Master’s degrees, Advanced Masters, PhD degrees, with a wide range of career opportunities.

ISAE-SUPAERO also develops a very active research policy around four main principles :

  • to ensure a strong link between programs and research,
  • to set up an international center for hosting and training for Master’s degrees, Advanced Masters and PhD degrees,
  • to guarantee a proper balance between academic visibility and industrial aims proximity,
  • to promote innovation in the aerospace field.

Very high potential students are recruited by the most selective national-wide entrance exam wich makes ISAE-SUPAERO a elite education program. As ISAE-SUPAERO is a specialized institute in the domain of Aerospace engineering, it is not appearing into international ranking that evaluates classically University.

Nevertheless, ISAE-SUPAERO is considered as one of the major engineering school in France. The "Usine Nouvelle" ranking present ISAE-SUPAERO on the first ten engineering schools, the very first one in the aerospace speciality and the fourth one on the student insertion criteria. ISAE-SUPAERO is a worldwide reference in aerospace higher education and research..

This is some facts about ISAE-SUPAERO :

 ISAE-SUPAERO and its partners

The ISAE-SUPAERO is part of University of Toulouse, ISSAT, PEGASUS, GEA, Toulouse Tech, CESAER[1] and Aerospace Valley.

Toulouse University is a higher education and research cluster. France’s Research and Higher Education Facilities are state-run clusters of universities, specialized schools, and research organizations. The cluster structure enables members of the cluster to combine their activities and resources.

The ISAE-SUPAERO has achieved a size and reputation enabling it to bring together a group of engineer schools, called the ISAE group, around the excellence of its training courses and its highly reputed brand. The vocation of the ISAE group is to bring together French higher education institutions in aerospace under a single banner, in order to extend the influence of these institutions both nationally and internationally, and to promote aerospace engineer training. The ISAE-Group is actually composed of four schools ISAE-SUPAERO, ISAE-ENSMA, ESTACA, and Ecole de l’air.

 ISAE-SUPAERO, digital learning projects and MOOCs

ISAE-SUPAERO is in the process of enhancing its digital activity and presence at international level. Many projects in the domain of information technology, digital learning and pedagogy have been achieved since few years. As examples, we can state :

  • Many technical IT projects aiming at deploying infrastructures and technologies in support to learning ;
  • Institutional deployment of LMS for many various usages like digital pedagogy, escolarity, distance learning, etc.
  • Active participation into pedagogical projects such as DEFI DIVERSITE, about active learning, problem based learning, and digital pedagogy support or ACTIF project about peer instruction and active amphitheaters
  • etc.

Among those different projects, , ISAE-SUAPERO have setup in 20014 a very first MOOC, named MOOC avion implemented in french language onto the EDX/FUN Platform. Some excerpts of the MOOC Avion can be seen in the following video (in french). This MOOC has been played during 8 weeks from January 2015 (about 5000 subscribers). a 2015 edition will be setup. We are in the process of translated it into english ("The Airplane MOOC"). Another MOOC about space or fluid mechanics are in pre-study phase.

In this context, the strategy is to enhance the production of learning services provided into digital formats, particularly MOOCs and SPOCs that will be setup in the domain of aerospace and space engineering. Example of domains that can be addresses could be (not exhaustive) : fluid mechanics, aerodynamics, aeronautic and space propulsion, energy, turbulence, turbo-machinery, flight dynamics, thermodynamics, structures, composites, space mechanics, aircraft flight qualities, embedded systems and networks, system control, automated systems, etc.

As a result, we are looking into a international partners helping us to develop and play the various courses. A platform like Coursera does not provides at the moment such specialized topics and ISAE-SUPAERO propose to fill this gap. As a result, the first objective of this proposal is to setup the basis of an agreement for such a project.

 About the Airplane MOOC

"The Airplane MOOC" is the suggested name for the English version of "MOOC Avion" (french version). This MOOC is currenly in production phase an is intended to be published in late 2016/beginning of 2017. It will be ready to implement onto a plaform in june 2016.

 The Airplane MOOC : why ?

Airplanes have been flying for more than a century. Being land based animals, flight remains largely counter intuitive. How does an aircraft fly ? How can we make sure it remains under the pilot’s control ? How high can it climb into the skies ? The Airplane MOOC will provide answers to all of these questions with passion, simplicity and scientific rigor. To help answer these questions, visual supports, demonstrations, graphical animations and simulations will be used. The math used during this course will be suitable for high school students and above.

 Content and objectives

After completing the course, each student should be able to :

  • Define and effectively use Flight Mechanics variables (angle of attack, flight path angle, pitch attitude ...) ;
  • Understand how airplanes fly and be able to describe the forces acting on it during stable and maneuvering flight ;
  • Describe and model the aerodynamic forces on a wing (pressure repartition on an airfoil, lifting-line vortices) ;
  • Describe standard atmosphere and explain how altitude impacts flight characteristics ;
  • Explain the origin of flight domain as well as weight and balance limitations ;
  • Roughly determine the size of lift surfaces and engine power for a given airplane ;
  • Evaluate takeoff distance and initial flight path angle following an engine failure ;
  • Explain the initial and long term effects of flight control surface movement ;
  • Explain static and dynamic stability of an airplane and their conditions.

 Who is The Airplane MOOC designed for ?

The Airplane MOOC is designed for the general public with a basic (high school) scientific knowledge. As we expect people that does not have the required scientific background, graded explanations will be offered to adapt to the needs and abilities of various types of listeners.


Knowledge of the following basic scientific principles is required :

  • Concept of force and moment (rotation around a single axis) ;
  • Newton’s Laws ;
  • Kinetic and potential energy ;
  • Derivative an integral of simple functions.

When necessary, a reminder of these notions will be offered, either by the pedagogical team or through publicly available resources.


Eric Poquillon : Currently teaching Experimental Flight Dynamics and Head of Design and Control of Air and Space Vehicles at ISAE-SUPAERO, he has been working for 20 years as a flight test expert specializing in civil and military transport aircraft airworthiness and performance. He is currently in charge of teaching in the fields of airworthiness, flight dynamics and conceptual design.

Allan Bonnet : Aerodynamics Professor at ISAE-SUPAERO, SUPAERO engineering Degree (1974) and PhD (77), he is responsible for the Aerodynamics Teaching Unit and for the 3rd year aerodynamics specialization.

 Pedagogical method and organisation

Course units will be based on :

  • Teacher video ;
  • Animated slides ;
  • Real experiments using ISAE-SUPAERO facilities like our wind tunnels, light aircraft etc.
  • Virtual experiments using various levels of simulation from animation to full motion simulator.

 Planning (to be revised)

  • Total course lengh : 8 weeks. Estimated student workload : 3h/week.
  • A week is typically composed of 2 to 3 sessions containing :
    • Theoretical and practical material : 5 to 10 mn videos ;
    • Evaluation : 1 or 2 self evaluation quiz and exercises ;
    • Asynchronous student - teacher interaction : through dedicated discussion forums

Final evaluation through a mid-term quiz and a final one in order to deliver a course attestation.

 The Airplane MOOC previews

The following documents are video previews of the Airplane MOOC.

The Airplane MOOC description :

Airplane Embeded course :

Example of online simulation is available online (clic on the picture) :

 About Laurent DAIRAINE

Laurent DAIRAINE is the ISAE-SUPAERO representative for Digital Learning concerns.

He currently seeks three main activities into ISAE-SUPAERO : Advisor for Digital services for institute’s dean, Chief Information Officer (head of the digital and IT departement, approx. 25 staffs) and Associate Professor in computer science.


  • 1994 : Ph.D. in Computer Systems (University of Paris 6)
  • 1995 : Post-Doctorate in University of Technology, Sydney
  • 1996 : ENSICA - Aerospace Engineering School
  • 2005 - Invited researcher in National ICT Australia lab (now CSIRO), Sydney, Australia
  • 2007-now : ISAE-SUPAERO - Aerospace Engineering School : Chief Information Officer, Prof
  • 2011-now : Digital Strategy Advisor for ISAE-SUPAERO dean.

The Laurent DAIRAINE’s scientific publication list is available online.

This is examples of projects he has managed or contributed since few years :

  • Many scientific research projects in computer networking domain with research labs, University or industrials (national or international) from 1995 to 2007 - see publications ;
  • IREEL (one of its activity during its stay in NICTA, Sydney,n Australia in 2006). IREEL stands for Internet Remote Emulation Experiment Laboratory. IREEL provides a way to conduct experiments with real Internet applications and protocols in the context of networking courses. This platform consists of a remote controlled network emulator system and end-stations providing a set of pre-defined applications and protocol mechanisms opened to test with. Control on the emulation system, and on the end systems will be given to students in order to perform experiments. A set of end-to-end mechanism examples, mainly focusing on transport and application protocols, are available. This project is still pursued
  • The overall MOOC activity in ISAE-SUPAERO, and particularly The "MOOC Avion", and the next MOOCs in preparation (from 2014).
  • The DEFI DIVERSITES Project and particularly the digital learning aspects of the project (from 2013)
  • ISAE-SUPAERO representation into the Digital University of Toulouse activity (from 2008)
  • The "ACTIF" Project (Dynamic Amphitheater) (from 2015)
  • LMS ISAE-SUPAERO deployment (2011)
  • All IT projects since 2008 (System and network Infrastructures, IT applications, ERP, etc. - approx. 20 project per year.)

 Visiting academics

In the context of a long stay abroad , L. Dairaine seeks to be integrated for a period of about one year in a eLearning team of an University or a company. This stay can be associated to the previously explained collaboration setup, but also and more generally to be integrated into a team (e.g., technical or not) working onto a specific digital learning project. One subject could be e.g. about scalable remote online experimentations.

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