On this occasion, twenty-three teachers from eleven schools in the Canton of Vaud were presented with their certificates by EPFL President Martin Vetterli, in the presence of Frédéric Borloz, Head of the Département de l’enseignement et de la formation professionnelle (DEF), Professor Francesco Mondada, Academic Director of the Center LEARN, and Yann Secq, Executive Manager of the CAS ESIS.
Martin Vetterli opened the ceremony with a reminder that, with the rapid development of artificial intelligence, it was crucial to acquire a thorough understanding of these technologies to prevent them from taking on a magical aspect. „Magic isn’t quite what we ought to be teaching at school. What we need to teach in schools is to understand things, and in order to understand ChatGPT, it helps enormously to have been exposed to computational thinking, to know what an algorithm is, or to know what a probability is,“ he said.
A tailored program
This program, developed in response to strong demand for training for secondary school teachers as part of a trial phase for a new period of Computer Science in the Cycle 3 curriculum in the canton of Vaud, took place over 20 days. Delivered at EPFL by the Center LEARN team, it was accompanied by weekly hands-on practice for two years in the participants‘ respective classrooms.
An important feature of this continuing education program was that the pedagogical activities for students were developed entirely in collaboration with the participants. Teachers from a variety of educational backgrounds, including mathematics, arts and crafts, history, French and physical education, were thus able to appropriate the fundamental concepts of computer science and actively contribute to the development of relevant and engaging teaching sequences for their classes.
„The exceptional quality of the work produced by our participants is a testament to the extraordinary commitment and dedication they have shown over the past two years,“ said Yann Secq, Executive Manager of CAS ESIS.
Active teaching and concrete projects
Another special feature of these activities is their „learning by doing“ approach, which progressively takes the form of unplugged (computer-free) sequences, such as a board game called „Les Cordées du Cervin“, plugged-in activities involving the programming of small video games and interactive scenarios, before culminating in projects based on tangible objects, notably with the Thymio robot and the micro:bit minicomputer.
Commending the commitment of all the participants, Mr. Borloz emphasized: „The best gift we can give our children is to have knowledge of the digital world, rather than being subjected to it. This graduation is not a trivial event. For the students who leave school tomorrow, this knowledge opens the way to professional and academic training, while arousing their curiosity about MINT-related professions“.
This pioneering cohort is now giving way to a second group, which began in June 2022 and this time composed of eighteen teachers who will complete their course next July.