EPFL internal Calls for projects BeLEARN

BeLEARN is a hub for digital education, situated in Bern and financed by the Canton of Bern , in which the Bern-based higher education institutions (University of Bern, Pädagogische Hochschule Bern, Berner Fachhochschule BFH), the Swiss Federal University of Vocational Education and Training SFUVET and EPFL join forces to accompany and shape the digital transformation of education. The topic focus of BeLEARN is on digital tools for learning and teaching, competences for a digital world, and data science for education. BeLEARN started operations in 2022, and a number of projects are already running. 

The annual budget attributed to EPFL is subject to an internal call for project proposals. We seek to support digital education (digital tools, digital skills, or data science for education/ learning analytics) research projects with strong relevance for and collaboration with practitioners. Projects should have approximate budget range of 50-100K per year and should end latest on 31.12.2024 as the current funding scheme is ending at this date (future funding schemes will evolve until then). It is possible and encouraged to combine other sources of funding.

The current call for projects is open, inviting researchers from EPFL to submit a project proposal in the form of a short document (2-3 pages) to [email protected] by 31.10.2023.

The proposal should include the following information:

  • Outline of the research project, incl. brief state of the art & research question, method/approach, timeline and deliverables per milestone
  • Use of the fund, incl. positions and their duration and work percentage, profiles (i.e. PhD student, PostDoc, developper, teacher trainer…) ; doctoral program if PhD student; complementary sources of funding
  • Number of collaborators and their physical presence in the BeLEARN hub in Bern (collaborators with this funding are expected to be in the hub to a significant extent)
  • Collaboration with colleagues from other BeLEARN partner institutions (Uni Bern, PH Bern, BFH, EHB/HEFP): names/units, type of collaboration and current status (expectation: at least one BeLEARN partner institution confirms their collaboration). Please add an informal letter signed by the collaboration partner to confirm their commitment to collaborate.
  • Implication of teachers, schools, other education actors
  • Anticipated opportunities and plans for the evolution of the project after the duration of this funding

The proposals will be selected based on the following criteria:

  • Scientific relevance and quality as well as innovative character
  • Capacity to contribute to BeLEARN dynamisation and inter-institutional collaboration 
  • Expected output in 2023 and after
  • Potential for follow-up research (funded by other sources)

Note: This call is open to EPFL researchers only.

The jury is composed of Jean-François Ricci (EPFL representative in BeLEARN consortium), Katrin Müller (Executive Director BeLEARN), Patrick Jermann (Director of the Center for Digital Education) Michel Tatti (previous director of professional school and personal collaborator of education minister), and Jessica Dehler Zufferey (Executive Director Center LEARN and EPFL lead on operational implementation BeLEARN).

The timeline is as follows:

  • 24.07.2023 – Internal call published on EPFL website
  • 31.10.2023 – Submission deadline for project proposals
  • During November – jury meeting with short intervention of project leaders
  • 01.12.2023 – Decision on projects is communicated

Any question or request regarding this call can be addressed to [email protected]

Conditions concerning EPFL internal Call for projects BeLEARN

The BeLEARN funding is meant to support the launch of new collaborative research projects within the field of digital education. Researchers can contribute to the preparation, submission and implementation of larger collaborative projects between EPFL and its BeLEARN partners.  

The BeLEARN funding serves as a research seed in the field of “digital education” through the selective financing of translational research projects conducted in collaboration with at least one of the BeLEARN founding institutions. This funding is open to EPFL researchers only. Projects funded by BeLEARN funding are executed in the premises of the BeLEARN hub at Bern.

The Center LEARN is handling the process related to BeLEARN funding (internal call, distribution of budget etc), in alignment with the EPFL representative in the BeLEARN consortium. They set up a jury and can involve additional experts from within or outside EPFL in the application review process. The jury decides on the attribution of funding.

The current funding phase runs from 2022 until end of 2024. Projects with a duration beyond this end date cannot be considered. 

The project leaders are responsible 1) to ensure that the budget is spent for the submitted project in accordance with the conditions stated here and 2) to deal with all HR and administrative actions required for the payment of the applicant’s salary costs. The applicant must remain an employee of EPFL during the funding period. 

The leaders of BeLEARN funded projects need to report about the project progress as defined by the BeLEARN office. They are expected to provide information about their projects for the BeLEARN communication actions (website for instance).

The application is transmitted to the Center LEARN ([email protected]) who verifies the application respects the conditions.

Each application is reviewed by at least three jury members. Jury members send their reviews to the coordinator at the Center LEARN.

The jury holds a meeting to take a final decision for each application. Project leaders are called in to respond to questions regarding their proposal.

Decisions are communicated to applicants.

Applicants must indicate whether they have a potential conflict of interest with a member of the jury at the time of the submission of their application. Jury members that are part of the applicant teams are excluded from evaluation of the project.

The attributed budget will be paid in one instalment per year. Project leaders need to fill and sign the checklist of the Research Office, provided by the coordinator of Center LEARN, as a condition to launch payment.

The account numbers must be communicated to the Center LEARN coordinator. The payments reimburse the eligible costs, primarily personnel costs, incurred for the implementation of the project during the duration defined in the application.

Eligible costs: EPFL budget guidelines (https://www.epfl.ch/about/overview/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/5.1.1_r_financier_an.pdf ) and salary scales are applicable (https://inside.epfl.ch/internalhr/fr/prestationsrh/salaires/forfaits/).

Unspent balances at the end of the project must be paid back to the main fund (532571).

EPFL may conduct audits in order to, among others, review the commitment of expenditure, the examination of orders and contracts with regard to their financial implications, the verification of the budget and the accounts. The project leaders receiving BeLEARN funding must cooperate with such audits carried out by or on behalf of EPFL, or by the competent authority, and shall grant the auditors reasonable access to any premises, documents, and devices involved with the grant.

Funding provided by the EPFL BeLEARN fund must be recognized in all project-related communication by including the BeLEARN logo where possible (project webpage, presentations, etc). The logo is provided by the BeLEARN office.

For internal and external communication purposes, the Center LEARN and the BeLEARN office would highly appreciate receiving on a regular basis information on the development of the project (e.g. publications, conference participations, media coverage, start-up creation, etc.). This information can for example be included in newsletters or shared through social media channels.

Project leaders and collaborators of BeLEARN funded projects are strongly expected to participate in BeLEARN-related events.

The project leaders will have responsibility for the administrative and financial management of the funding. They shall in particular:

(a) review and follow-up on the ethical conformity of the project, comply with the relevant local ethical requirements, and submit, if required, an application to the Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC);

(b) prepare consortium agreement or research agreement with other collaborative partners of the project if necessary;

(c) oversee the financial management of the project, including reporting;

(d) comply with the rules regarding research integrity and good scientific practice.