Retrospective of the 2nd edition of the “Teaching Day”
The second edition of the Teaching Day, organised as a half-day hybrid event, provided a look into the work of three AVP-E initiated commissions that had worked on recommendations for future directions of education at EPFL as well as an analysis of machine learning in the curriculum and a presentation of fact sheets for the inclusion of students with special needs.
The second iteration of the "Teaching Day" was held on the morning of Tuesday 14 September in a condensed, revised, and adapted format to comply with current health regulations.
Nicknamed "Teaching (Half) Day" for the occasion, this conference co-organized by the EPFL Teachers Council (CCE), the Center LEARN, and the Teaching Support Center (CAPE) aimed to present the results of the commissions formed at the beginning of the year under the leadership of the Associate Vice-Presidency for Education (AVP-E). The recordings of the presentations are available here.
From January to July 2021, around fifty members of the EPFL community including professors, teachers, section directors, staff members and students worked together to produce a report as well as a set of recommendations aimed at improving education within the institution. These commissions focused on four areas: the first year, project-based learning, hybrid/flexible education and the simplification of rules and processes.
"I wanted more support for the teachers," Pierre Dillenbourg, Associate Vice-President for Education, explained to the hybrid assembly bringing together a total of around ninety members of the EPFL teaching community.
The chairs of the first three commissions took turns presenting the results of nearly six months of careful evaluation and analysis, drawing up a comprehensive report of the focus areas.
The first year commission investigated the status of success rates and overall well-being of incoming students which allowed for generating recommendations on teaching and mentoring support, exam revisions, and classroom formats that support diverse student populations coming into EPFL.
The hybrid/flexible teaching commission analyzed different modalities of teaching both from the perspective of teacher-driven pedagogical approaches and student self-regulated autonomous learning. This analysis supported the creation of a map that helps navigate through different modalities of teaching at different stages in the curriculum.
Finally, the project commission surveyed existing practices at EPFL and elsewhere to understand how to leverage the benefits of project-based learning for a larger number of students, such as bridging the gap between theory and practice, acquisition of transversal skills, and benefiting from a structured and well-balanced curriculum.
The full reports and recommendations of the commissions can be found here. These commissions were an opportunity to take a fresh look at traditional teaching methods and identify potential leads for the improvement and progress of practices, paving the road for future evidence-based implementations.
"We asked ourselves what studying at EPFL would look like in 2025," Felix Naef, Associate Professor and Director of the Commission on hybrid/flexible teaching said.
Well beyond that, the Associate Vice President for Student Affairs and Outreach (AVP-SAO), Kathryn Hess, reaffirmed that “the mandate of EPFL is to not only create excellent students, excellent technicians, but also well-rounded future members of society.”
The 2021 Teaching Day was completed by an analysis of machine learning throughout the curriculum (database available here) presented by Mathieu Salzmann and Alexandre Alahi, as well as an overview of the various resources available on campus to boost inclusion (fact sheets about special needs available to EPFL teachers) offered by the Student Affairs (SAE) in collaboration with specialists from CHUV.
The following work on some of the recommendations and actions proposed in the commission reports will entail wider discussions with the teaching community and appointing time and resources to make concrete steps in realizing some of the set objectives.
All teachers are invited to participate in the follow-up discussion through the appointed workshops for each of the commission, as well as through answering the survey prepared for giving feedback to the reports and suggestions provided by the commission teams.
The workshop dedicated to hybrid/flexible education will be held on 14 October between 12:15 and 14:00, the first year workshop on 22 October, same time, and the project commission workshop on 2 November, same time. All workshops are announced via the Center LEARN memento; make sure to subscribe to stay updated on this and other teaching related sessions!