Interactive teaching in STEM disciplines

Traditional teaching in STEM disciplines has been described as promoting memorization rather than scientific understanding (Crouch & Mazur, 2001) and there is now good research evidence that interactive learning approaches show lower failure rates and higher average test scores than traditional lecturing (Springer et al. 1999; Freeman et al., 2014) across a wide range of STEM disciplines. Yet uptake of interactive teaching practices seems to be limited. The goal of this project is to test large group interactive teaching in order to develop scalable approaches that have a proven impact on student attainment.

Campus Analytics

Applying data science principles to EPFL academic data can unlock secrets and provide insights that would otherwise be concealed from normal observation. It can show how students use different learning strategies to reach a common goal, how a specific lecture is causing students to dropout of a course, how a specific choice of courses can lead to better or worse results in future courses, how learning paths lead to different careers, and how well the general focus of the EPFL curriculum.

Go-Lab – Personal and inquiry Learning

Education in science and technology is challenging for both teachers and learners which need support in finding, aggregating, exploiting, and reflecting on the usage of active learning resources. Pioneer work and investigations are carried through collaborative projects to enable access to online labs for STEM education and to package them into rich interactive learning resources though digital authoring and agile exploitation platforms. Awareness and reflection solutions are embedded in the resources and in the digital education platforms to improve teaching and learning practices and outputs. Emphasis is also put on investigating the co-creation and co-exploitation of inquiry learning solutions supported by learning analytics.

Capacity Building and Blended Learning

Reducing inequalities and developing skills worldwide rely on enabling research targeting the development of knowledge sharing and digital education solutions and approaches taking into account the local contexts, the technological infrastructures, as well as the social-cultural dimensions to strengthen implementation, adoption, and impact. The React Group is carrying out empirical investigations for blending traditional and digital education, collocated and distance learning, as well as providing access to knowledge, learning resources, and communities in under-connected environments though ad hoc mobile apps and digital platforms. These investigations are carried out in collaboration with NGOs and governmental organisations such as UNCTAD (Leapfrogging Skills Development).

The learning companion

The Learning Companion is a coach that helps students implement effective study habits described in the book Apprendre à étudier: Guide à l’usage des étudiants en science et en ingénierie (Tormey & Hardebolle 2017). Students choose which habits they would like to develop (and get help with) and report their behavior on a voluntary basis. This approach resembles approaches set forth by applications like Strava for sports, WeightWatcher for dieting, etc.

Self-regulation and STEM learning

The ability of students to reflect upon, plan, monitor, debug and review their own learning is linked to success in learning in university, as well as to the ability to use what they learn in university when they need it in workplace settings. The goal of this project is, in the first instance, to collect data on a range of student learning practices and beliefs (note taking practices in lectures, exercise solution strategies, beliefs about the nature and purpose of exercise sessions) in order to identify learning beliefs and practices which are less conducive to attainment. In phase 2, targeted interventions aimed at aiding students in changing these beliefs and practices will be undertaken.

Swiss EdTech Collider

The Swiss EdTech Collider is Switzerland’s first collaborative space dedicated to ambitious entrepreneurs transforming education and learning through technology. Located in the EPFL Innovation Park just a few steps away from EPFL’s Center for Digital Education, we provide a modern coworking space to our members ranging from early-stage to established startups. Unlike a classical startup incubator or accelerator program, we offer ongoing support and access to edtech experts, industry leaders and investors.

Interface Gymnase

Pages dedicated to teachers of gymnasiums and vocational schools. The collaboration between EPFL and these teachers is fundamental to forge strong links between our institutions, ensure a good coordination of our teaching programs and facilitate the transition of students.

Teachers training programs

The purpose of this initiative is to motivate and train teachers for the introduction of technologies in school.

Dual-T – Leading house Technologies for Vocational Education

The main purpose of this Leading House is to determine how learning activities may be designed so as to close the gap between classroom instruction at VET schools and work-based training at host companies. The Leading House also seeks to optimise coordination between various VET learning locations.

Inter-courses link by robots

EPFL aims to reinforce high-quality interdisciplinary teaching in Discovery Learning Labs (DLLs), ultimately with a supervised prototyping space (EL). Currently interdisciplinary activities are only rarely integrated in the different courses. This project aims to develop interdisciplinary courses, through an experimental platform that can act as a common thread between 7 teachers (10 courses) of different sections. This platform can link courses but also provides students with a technology they can integrate into the prototyping of their projects. This tool will take advantage of the implementation of the prototyping DLL and of the bachelor’s reform to be integrated in many courses that are partially or totally remodeled.

Educational robotics (Cellulo)

In the Cellulo Project, we are aiming to design and build the pencils of the future’s classroom, in the form of robots. We imagine these as swarm robots, each of them very simple and affordable, that reside on large paper sheets that contain the learning activities. Our vision is that these be ubiquitous, namely a natural part of the classroom ecosystem, as to shift the focus from the robot to the activity. With Cellulo you can actually grab and move a planet to see what happens to its orbit, or vibrate a molecule with your hands to see how it behaves. Cellulo makes tangible what is intangible in learning.

Educational robotics (Thymio)

Thymio is a gender neutral, age neutral, open source, and compact educational robot that is widely used in school to introduce technology, programming, computational thinking or simply motivate students to make an educational activity. Thymio has been designed within research projects of various institutions, including EPFL, écal (link), ETHZ for part of the software and INRIA for many educational activities. It is produced and distributed by a non-profit association called Mobsya and is used in a large set of educational materials for schools, covering the whole spectrum of ages, from kindergarten to university and beyond.

Extension school

Our mission is simple: we enable everyone to learn the skills necessary to benefit from the opportunities of the digital age. The Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) and the EPFL Extension School offer outstanding educational quality on campus and online because we represent the quintessence of Switzerland’s innovation forces and are one of the pre-eminent universities in Europe.