Detailed Program of the Conference

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Overall view of the program
Parallel sessions - E.8.2 Rethinking Higher Education at the time of Covid: challenges, new perspectives, critical issues
Friday, 04/June/2021:
1:15pm - 3:30pm

Session Chair: Stefania Capogna
Session Chair: Gregory Makrides
Session Chair: Erika Zuperkiene
Location: Room 7

Session Panels:
E.8. Rethinking Higher Education at the time of Covid: Challenges, new perspectives, critical issues

External Resource:


Stefania Massaro, Loredana Perla

University of Bari, Italy

Over last years citizenship education has been emerging in its task related to health education, according to WHO definition of ‘health’ as complete well-being (1948) and with consideration of reformulations emphasizing individual’s resources to cope and self-manage (Huber et al., 2011) stressing citizen’s capacity to participate in his own health with skills of inquiry, critical thinking, problem solving and evaluation, cultivating personal and social responsibility (Massaro, 2013; Caron, 2016; Perla, 2020). The covid-19 pandemic has shown need to support community building, social cohesion and resilience, placing local well-being and participation at the forefront of dealing with perspective health and environmental crisis (Lauriola P. et al., 2021).

Referring to health as a ‘complex problem’ urging transdisciplinary research perspectives at present, hereby we present a research-based project addressing obesity prevention through the interdisciplinary paradigm of telemedicine including medicine, education, biomedicine and computer science, with the aim to develop
scientific knowledge and evidence-based practices to be translated into an educational competency model for obesity prevention and health promotion.

Through an AI-based and patient-centered e-health framework, the project provides a holistic and sustainable approach to health literacy involving children and families in best practices on obesity and engaging in empowerment processes of psychosocial development, meant to support an independent and positive attitude through experiential learning within the salutogenic perspective. Objective is the development of life-long capacities of informed decision and self-care in primary and secondary prevention settings, qualifying health education as education to an active citizenship promoting knowledge and participation of the person in the context according to a community-based approach with aim of well-being and quality of life.

The present study constitutes a first working basis for experimenting telemedicine in healthcare and school settings. We present an exploratory research conducted with 250 students of Educational Sciences and Psychology aimed at investigating preliminarily social impact of weight-bias and eating disorders and students’ involvement in an educational competency models to promote healthy lifestyles and wellbeing. The first results highlighted strong connections between educational and clinical knowledge as urgent need to build more inclusive school and social systems and the emergence of new need of digital citizenship addressing the person’s active participation in new digital health systems, made by health apps and medical devices, going from everyday wearables to telemedicine sensors.


Emanuela Proietti1, Giulia Cecchini2


The scenario we are living – due to the pandemic – is representing an opportunity to rethink Higher Education (HE) system. Challenges do not concern only pedagogical aspects. Additional element needs to be addressed: IT governance and decision-making. Increased use of information technology changes in the role of the IT organisation and, consequently, the related decision-making model should reflect this change.

The objective of the abstract is to present the theoretical framework of the Erasmus+ Project ECOLHE Empower Competences for On life Learning in HE. It aims at highlighting experiences, practices and competencies of teachers, researches and university staff members active in the digital field, in order to foster the dissemination of best practices in training and skills development for “online” learning in HE, according to the new experience of a hyperconnected reality (Floridi, 2014).

Organizations are increasingly characterized as learning organizations, subject to solicitations that transform their distinctive traits in relation to structures, processes, but also to their culture, towards new logics, more open, less hierarchical, flat, networked and adhocratic (Cocozza, 2014).

Key competences for lifelong learning and the learning to learn competence - as strategic resources for working and living - redefine the educational, political and social dimension that qualifies the relationship between state and citizen, in a new, more inclusive and democratic form. So, lifelong learning becomes an entitlement. ECOLHE aims to analyse the role of the University.

The transformation of organisational, professional and educational models that radically alter rules, boundaries and autonomy of those who work daily in educational contexts, should suggest a global rethink of the education model and the idea of digital innovation to be pursued (Capogna, Cianfriglia, Cocozza, 2020; Proietti, 2020).

HE institutions can be observed as complexes organizations, carefully considering structural and cultural dimensions, the governance and the leadership of these innovation processes.

Universities should complete their transformation from "exclusive owners" of knowledge to organisers, enhancers and promoters of widespread knowledge in society and the world of economy. While not forgetting, of course, the creation of new knowledge, which remains a distinctive element of Universities, through research. This aspect has been analysed especially in terms of new teaching methodologies, which put the learner at the centre, without realising that the centrality of the learner also changes the role of the university (Palumbo & Proietti, 2019).


Capogna, S., Cianfriglia, L. & Cocozza, A. (Ed.) (2020). Digital Culture for Educational Organizations. “Guidelines for Teachers and Education Agencies''. Roma: Eurilink University Press.

Cocozza A. (2014). Organizzazioni. Culture, modelli, governance. Milano: Franco Angeli.

Floridi, L. (Ed.) (2014). The Onlife manifesto. Being human in a hyperconnected era. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Palumbo M. & Proietti E. (2019). Labour world and professional systems’ transformations: new challenges for universities. eucen Studies eJournal of University Lifelong Learning, Vol 3 No 01, pp. 27-32. Roma: Electronic Press.

Proietti E., (2020). La costruzione della cultura organizzativa di fronte alla sfida del digital learning ai tempi del COVID-19. QTimes Journal of Education, Technology and Social Studies, XII, 3/2020, pp. 341-355.


Sergio Ricardo Quiroga

ICAES, Argentine Republic

This presentation recounts the experience of a chair of the Argentine Cultural Institute of Higher Education (ICAES) in its surprising turn towards virtual teaching motivated by the appearance of the Covid 19 Pandemic and the Argentine quarantine, one of the most extensive in the world. The Argentine higher education system is called a binary system because it participates in Argentine universities and teacher training institutes.

The ICAES is a non-governmental organization founded in the 40s in the city of Villa Mercedes, San Luis, without state subsidy, with educational levels from the initial cycle, secondary, night secondary, English academy and teachers with fees for students very Accessible. Every year, the ICAES takes the corresponding steps to obtain the state subsidy, which facilitates teaching work and institutional activities, without obtaining satisfactory responses from the educational authorities of the province of San Luis in Argentina.

In the Argentine context, on March 20, the government issued a decree that ordered "Preventive and compulsory social isolation" suspending all non-essential activities, and the closure of schools and educational organizations. Violently and without preparation, a virtual emergency education began to function progressively in educational establishments, where teachers with their own resources, possibilities and limitations had to organize in a short time and adapt their classes to virtual mode. The digital gaps, educational gaps, technology gaps, and social and educational inequality that already existed, emerged and expanded with more force and speed in this time of uncertainty.

The problems faced by the Argentine face-to-face educational system are not new. Low salaries for teachers, schools with limited buildings and no technology, and student overcrowding in school and university organizations already existed. Before the pandemic, there were traditional schools and hybrid schools. Hybridity combined traditional teaching with little virtual condiments.

In this context, with growing difficulties characterized fundamentally by the lack of obsolete devices or devices, limited or no connectivity, little teacher and student preparation in teaching in digital settings, the teacher emerged as a prominent figure in the educational conversation

With historically meager salaries, they had to learn and re-learn the new teaching and learning rhythms, the new rituals, the looks, the silences and the absences caused by the pandemic and quarantine situation in all the subjects. On the other hand, the virtual teaching of classes imposed a greater teaching work in the planning of the classes, the delivery of them and the recognition of new ways of evaluating. In this context, with doubts and uncertainty, a teacher tried to emerge who tried to dominate some areas of the unprecedented, what was probably little unattainable until then: virtuality.

Education will never be the same again. Analysis of the immediate future is in the making. Analysis that should be dealt with in education about the role and training of teachers, the use of ICT, the probability of different future scenarios and the specific weight they have in them, the different and no fewer complex relationships that can be established between educational organizations, society and the state.


Rasa Bralslauskienė, Reda Jacynė

Klaipėda University

The Covid-19 pandemic brought about changes in the processes of teaching and learning in higher education institutions and affected all possible areas of the higher education process. The main challenges faced by teachers are how to further ensure a sustainable learning process by using digital resources and analysing peculiarities of the transition from the traditional to e-learning, aspects of communication with other teachers and students at a distance, etc. The following research focuses on the opinion of teachers, which reveals their experiences in the following process of changes; it is sought to reveal how the pandemic affected teachers’ professional growth, how it changed their competencies, which of the competencies were lost and which became a sign of professional growth and will be further developed. The opinion of teachers of the Klaipėda University Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities on the changes of their professional competencies during the Covid-19 pandemic was chosen as the research object. The aim of the research is to reveal peculiarities of professional development and growth of teachers of higher education institutions during the Covid-19 pandemic. According to qualitative content analysis of university teachers’ answers, the concept of their role, the nature of teaching/learning methods and organization have changed, subject knowledge had to be adapted to suit online studies. A striking feature is that though there was no time to prepare for these conditions, teachers were forced to find a creative and an innovative commitment to act, learn, improve and demonstrate adaptability and flexibility by strengthening teacher-student communication in a virtual environment, using new online platforms, and ensuring appropriate follow-up study activities. It has also become clear that the constantly changing role of teachers, especially during a pandemic, requires more creative thinking and time for creating new teaching/learning methods, modules, and this implies extensive online/digital trainings. A variety of digital and technical tools have been used for distance learning. The research showed that distance learning in a higher education institution caused difficulties for teachers during the pandemic, but teachers were able to quickly master digital programs, manage information flows, collaborate with colleagues and students, engage in self-education, help students address the concerns raised that have really increased during the quarantine period, and at the same time maintain the continuity of the study process.


Marco Solimene, Thamar Heijstra, Ragna Kemp Haraldsdottír, Guðrún Geirsdottír

University of Iceland

Technological developments have made it much easier for teachers and students to interact online in real time but glitches, poor Internet connections and dysfunctioning equipment still make online teaching challenging. What is more, under normal circumstances academic teachers use months to carefully develop the pedagogy of distance learning courses in order to ensure its quality. This paper examines how three academics at the School of Social Sciences at the University of Iceland (UI) dealt with a sudden shift in their teaching practices during the first wave of COVID-19. In March 2020 a four weeks assembly-ban was declared in order to protect the Icelandic population from the COVID-19 pandemic. This meant that the academic staff had to replace on-campus teaching with online teaching. The paper examines what Hodges et al. (2020) refer to as Emergency Remote Teaching. Some UI academics had experience with digital teaching already, but for many this meant facing a steep learning curve. Aside from moving teaching online and redesigning assessment and examination practices, academic teachers needed to be sensitive to students’ needs and feelings due to the pandemic as much uncertainty was laying ahead.

The research context is a significant network created at the postgraduate diploma Teaching Studies for Higher Education at the UI. There, three academics experienced the unprecedented role of simultaneous teaching and learning during COVID-19. Parallel, a learning process took place where different experiences, stories and reflections were shared which permitted these academic colleagues to act as critical friends. They took notes and applied their learning to their courses while supported by each other and their supervisor.

The data for this study derive from Q&A notes as well as from shadowing logs from teaching observations within the significant network. Secondary data consists of interactions and emails from students, student evaluations of teaching (SET) as well as email correspondence of the UI Rector to academic staff during the pandemic.

The data reveal that despite being pushed outside their comfort zone in many aspects of teaching, interactions and technology, the teachers managed to cope with the new situation and the experience became a drive towards improvement in their teaching. Their experiences show the implications of COVID-19 for future teaching at UI. Finally, the study emphasizes the importance of belonging to a significant network and the importance of peer-learning, peer support and feedback from colleagues in professional development when the learning curve is steep.