A solid track record in teaching innovation

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To keep pace with the remarkable advancements in digital technology, we need to update both what we teach and how we teach it. That’s why we have put in place a number of new degree programs to respond to the challenges facing our society.

We will launch another two Master’s degrees at the start of the 2019–2020 academic year. For the first time in Switzerland, students will be able to obtain a Master’s degree in Cybersecurity, which we will run jointly with ETH Zurich. This program will produce much-needed experts in this ever-expanding field, while the new Master’s in Energy Science and Technology will prepare engineers for the many challenges relating to climate change and sustainable development.

«It is important for our students to know how to dialogue with computers and intelligent systems in order to better grasp their limits and potential.»

In addition, we have made changes to our university-wide curriculum, sharpening the focus on the foundations of scientific learning – mathematics, physics and computational thinking. The inclusion of computational thinking as the “third pillar” of the first-year curriculum was a bellwether change made at the start of this school year. It is important for our students to know how to dialogue with computers and intelligent systems in order to better grasp their limits and potential.

It is our duty to train the talented engineers, architects and scientists who will shape the future. In addition to equipping them with cutting-edge skills, we must also ensure they have the tools they need to keep pace with our rapidly changing society.

That is why we focus on learning by doing, in order to enhance their drive to learn, create and collaborate. Initiatives like EPFLoop are great ways of getting students to hone both their technical skills and their soft skills. In the same vein, in 2019 we will launch our MAKE initiative, which will offer students the opportunity to work on a number of projects. And our CORE initiative, which focuses on ensuring students have a solid foundation, will continue to promote innovative teaching methods, such as the large-scale flipped classroom experiment conducted last year.

We opened the LEARN Center in October in order to develop educational research at EPFL. LEARN’s goal is to try out novel teaching methods and turn them into new teaching practices for our campus and further afield. In 2019, EPFL will also be involved in training local secondary-school teachers in preparation for the introduction of computer science in the curriculum for four- to seven-year-olds.

EPFL has a solid track record in teaching innovation, and we want to put our expertise to work at all levels of education and contribute to developing the Swiss education system as a whole. The success of our MOOCs and the EPFL Extension School, which awarded Switzerland’s first Certificates of Open Studies (COS) in November, is proof that we must continue to cultivate a thirst for learning, redefine the limits of teaching and dare to venture into uncharted territory.

Pierre Vandergheynst
Vice-President for Education

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Teaching | 22 articles