To support scientific research throughout the African continent, University Mohammed VI Polytechnic (UM6P) in Morocco and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL) launched the Excellence in Africa (EXAF) initiative. One of the three pillars of this initiative focuses on digital education, building on EPFL’s proven track record in this area.
The goal is to provide STEM students across Africa with access to quality educational material and tools found in cutting-edge universities around the world, yet relevant to education and research programmes offered in Africa.
About University Mohammed VI Polytechnic (UM6P)
UM6P is a hub of education, research, innovation, and entrepreneurship. Its goal is to forge links between Morocco, Africa, and the world. UM6P has implemented an innovative model of teaching and research focused on experimentation. The university’s sites are equipped with ‘living laboratories’ such as experimental farms or mines, applying the principle of ‘learning by doing’, which is dear to the university. These large-scale work platforms are designed to enable researchers to achieve their full potential
EPFL is one of the world’s leading institutes of science and technology. It brings together students, professors and staff members from over 120 countries. EPFL is a public institution endowed with three missions: teaching, research and innovation. It collaborates with a wide array of partners, including other universities, middle and high schools, companies, political actors and the general public, with the aim of having a real impact on society at both national and global levels.
EXAF Online Labs
This call for proposals is open to lecturers and faculty members from African academic institutions, wishing to contribute to the development of digital education by means of creating online labs of relevance to the STEM education programmes.
What is an online lab?
An online lab, also known as a virtual lab or remote lab, is a digital simulation of a laboratory experiment that can be accessed and performed over the internet. Online labs allow students and researchers to conduct experiments and collect data from anywhere with internet access, rather than being physically present in a laboratory. They are designed to mimic the experience of working in a traditional laboratory and may include simulations, interactive tutorials, and other educational resources. They are commonly used in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, as well as in other fields. They can be used as an alternative or supplement to traditional labs.
- Submit a letter signed by the head of the department/institute/laboratory confirming the institutional commitment to implement the project. (max 1000 words ~ 2 pages)
- Please fill in the following table with the names of the people corresponding to each role.
- Please provide the total duration (in months or weeks) during which each person involved in the development and implementation of the project is expected to work. (max 250 words ~ ½ page)
- Provide your project manager’s CV, including a detailed section on past experience with online labs.
- This document should be used to explain how these experiences contribute to the project manager’s added value in the context of digital laboratory projects.
- It is essential to detail the skills, achievements and specific knowledge acquired in this field for a complete assessment of the profile.
Provide a description (max 8 pages) of the educational project by including the following items:
- Subject matter taught
- Global learning objective
- Target audience (programmes/courses, level, prerequisites)
- Description of the experimental set-up (remote-physical, virtual, simulation, etc)
- Description of the integration of the online lab into the pedagogical project
- Duration of the learning activities (in hours/days/weeks)
- To provide students with online and remote access to physical or simulated labs in various STEM fields.
- To empower motivated instructors in participating universities to incorporate these online labs into their courses.
- Affiliated with an African university;
- Taught the subject for at least 3 years;
- Proven experience in the development of STEM laboratories
- The subject taught must be STEM-related
- The amount of funding, which can be up to 40,000 CHF, varies based on the type of laboratory.
- Hardware, IT and electronic equipment, and software. The amount granted to this purpose cannot be less than 60% of the total funds granted.
- Up to one-year funding of personnel for the development and implementation of the online lab project.
- Training of lecturers at participating universities to onboarding students on the online lab platform.
- Institutional overheads
- Currency fluctuations: Granted amounts are set in Swiss francs. In case of any currency fluctuations, the budget awarded to participating institutions in Swiss francs remains unchanged.
Applicants must submit their initial application (Stage 1) via the on-line submission form before the submission deadline of 15th February 2024 (23:59 GMT+1).
During Stage 1 of the application process, projects will be evaluated on a scale of 0-5 based on 5 criteria:
- Institutional commitment to support and host the project.
- Relevance of the project to the needs of STEM education.
- Integration of the online lab into a sound pedagogical project.
- Openness of the project and potential for usage by other instructors.
- Existing infrastructure, as well as technical and pedagogical expertise
The best projects will then proceed to Stage 2, the additional documents they will need to be provided will be evaluated using the same criteria. To be considered for evaluation, an application must be submitted on time with the required documents and meet the eligibility and format requirements.