EPFL Teachers Council hosts 3rd annual Teaching Day

The purpose of this day, which was punctuated by two plenary lectures and four interactive workshops, was to provide an opportunity for all faculty members to participate in discussions on both pedagogical and professional issues. The solutions, suggestions and requests formulated at this occasion are then forwarded to the Associate Vice Presidency for Education (AVP-E).

The Teaching Day 2023, chaired by Andreas Osterwalder, Professor at the Institute of Chemical Sciences and Engineering (ISIC) and President of the CCE, began with a presentation of the Teachers Council, in which Osterwalder reported on the activities of the past year. He encouraged participants to contact the CCE to establish a continuous flow of information between the administration and the faculty. The CCE will hold elections this summer, and Andreas Osterwalder has issued an open call to all EPFL faculty members to join the Conference.

The morning’s first plenary lecture was given by Antoine Bosselut, Professor at the Natural Language Processing Laboratory (NLP). Given the rapid evolution of artificial intelligence over the past ten years, the session focused on the risks and opportunities associated with the release of tools such as ChatGPT. Professor Bosselut gave the audience a quick introduction to the basic principles behind Chat GPT and called for participation in his study on how this tool is integrated and used by EPFL teachers in their courses.

The second lecture of the morning presented the Advancing Teaching project and was delivered by Ruth Graham, Academic Consultant leading this global initiative. She presented the „Career Framework for University Teaching„, the organization’s flagship tool for structuring the professional development of faculty within universities and providing a development plan and database to support, enhance and reward the quality of higher education. This initiative now extends to more than 50 institutions that have adopted this framework and allows since 2019, the continuation of a series of cross-sectional surveys among its members to analyze and improve the culture and status of teaching.

Parallel Workshops

The parallel workshops in the first part of the day focused respectively on the development of transversal competences and, echoing Ruth Graham, on the development of ways to strengthen the role of teaching within the school.

Group 1, moderated by Roland Tormey of the Teaching Support Center (CAPE), allowed participants to reflect on how teaching and academic careers are articulated at EPFL, what tools and levers are currently available to support faculty, and what are the modalities of professional development at EPFL.

Group 2 was led by Jessica Dehler Zufferey, Executive Director of the Center LEARN for Learning Sciences, and focused on the development of transversal skills through project-based learning formats currently being implemented within the school. The topic is gaining even more importance with the opening of the Transversal Skills and Career Center led by Tamara Milosevic. This workshop was an opportunity for participants to discover and explore projects currently being developed and studied by several units, such as the MAKE projects or the pedagogical activities based on the manipulation of tangible objects proposed by the 3T PLAY team.

© Julie Clerget / 2023 EPFL

© Julie Clerget / 2023 EPFL

During the afternoon’s parallel sessions, group 3 proposed an overview of the growing catalog of digital resources available to EPFL faculty, led by Cécile Hardebolle from the Center for Digital Education (CEDE) and Guillaume Anciaux, researcher and teacher at the Computational Solid Mechanics Laboratory (LSMS) and member of the CCE. During this session, participants had the opportunity to discover some of the tools developed at EPFL such as GraphSearch and Exoset as well as resources for integrating interactive elements in lessons such as Jupyter Notebooks.

Group 4 was moderated by Sacha Friedli, mathematics teacher and member of the CCE, and supported by Professor Bosselut’s natural language laboratory team. It offered an opportunity to delve deeper into the topic of AI and its impact on the world of education with discussions on the opportunities and risks of ChatGPT for learning, teaching and assessing.

© Julie Clerget / 2023 EPFL

The four working groups generated intense discussions and brought together the different points of view of the participants, resulting in a collection of suggestions and ideas on the different topics on the agenda. A detailed report, presentations‘ slides as well as video recordings of the event are available here.

Author(s): Julie Clerget
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