LA-CoNGA physics: an open science education collaboration between Latin America and Europe for High Energy Physics
January 28, 2022
Astrophysics and high energy physicist communities have been pioneers in establishing Virtual Research and Learning Networks, giving rise to productive international consortiums in collaborating environments and training new generations of scientists.
LA-CoNGA physics (for Latin-American alliance for Capacity buildiNG in Advance physics} is an ERASMUS+ project aiming to support the modernization of university infrastructure and its pedagogical offer in advanced physics in four Latin-American countries: Colombia, Ecuador, Perú and Venezuela. This project is co-funded by the Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency of the European Commission. This virtual teaching and research network comprises three partner universities in Europe and eight in Latin-America; high-level scientific partners (CEA, CERN, CNRS, DESY, ICTP), and several and two industrial partners.
Open Science education and Open Data are the heart of our operations. In practice, LA-CoNGA physics has created a set of graduate courses in Advanced Physics (high energy physics and complex systems) that are common to all institutions, supported by the installation of interconnected remote laboratories and on an open e-learning platform. This program, incorporated into the master's programs of the eight Latinamerican partners, is based on three pillars: high energy physics/Complex System courses, data science, and instrumentation.
During 2019 we prepared the syllabuses and selected the lecturers. In 2020 the strict lock-downs modified our pedagogical strategies. The planned model --an eight-node network of universities made-up by local groups for discussions-- was transformed into low-quality home participation. We simplified the connectivity requirements to the minimum bandwidth that could operate remote labs. We also changed the lecture interaction and evaluation model, balancing the teamwork on course projects and continuous evaluation based on class exercises. Despite the lockdown scenario, we managed to support the needs of our instrumentation and computing courses thanks to the contribution and enthusiasm of our partners. With the support of 30 instructors, we gave 100 lectures to 67 students in the four countries. We are now promoting the second cohort due to start in January 2022.
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