Final Project Partners’ Meeting of the European Project Virtual Tours for Business Culture

The final meeting of Virtual Tours project, hosted by University of Padova, was held on October 4th and 5th, 2018, in Padova. During the meeting, the partners analysed the obtained results, laid the foundations for the sustainability and exploitation plan, and defined the tasks to be done for the final reporting.

Virtual Tours is a project financed by the Programme Erasmus+ of the European Commission. Having a duration of two years, it started on November 2016 and finished on October 2018. It counts with seven partners coming from Italy, Spain, Finland and Macedonia. The project aims at increasing and improving opportunities of dialogue between university, students and enterprises, through a training course delivered by a virtual platform developed by UNIR.

The course is addressed mainly to recent graduates in the moment of the transition from the university to the labour market, providing a deeper understanding of the main features of the business culture. It has been implemented in five different languages (English, Italian, Finnish and Macedonian), and has been done in a piloting phase by students from four different European universities, including UNIR.

In the frame of the project, the partners have also organized several virtual sessions in different leading companies from the five participant countries. These sessions consist on online events where the company managers introduce the organisation and processes of their organisation, and answer to questions from the attendees in real time. UNIR has organized two of these sessions, in Telefonica and Adecco Group.

The project has helped the students and recent graduates to acquire competences to facilitate the transition moment from education to the labour market, and as a result, to improve their employability. The companies, apart from their contribution to the project, have obtained a major knowledge of the role they can play to improve the students’ competences, which has permitted an enhanced dialogue with the world of education and attracting appropriate candidates.

Daniele Di Mitri, PhD at Open University of The Netherland, has won the Martin Wolpers’ Award to the most young promising research

In the frame of the Martin Wolpers’ Award, funded by Research Institute for Innovation & Technology in Education (UNIR iTED) at Universidad Internacional de La Rioja (UNIR), the Institute has presented for the second year an award to the most promising researcher at the Joint European Summer School on Technology-Enhanced Learning (JTEL).

The winner of this year, Daniele Di Mitri, has been announced at the European Association of Technology Enhanced Learning (EATEL) 2018. The Prize has rewarded not individual papers nor posters but how the young researchers actively connected and positioned their research to the field and society. The other two finalists, selected by EC-TEL and UNIR iTED, have been Sambit Praharaj (Open University of The Netherlands) and Alejandro Ortega-Arranz (Universidad de Valladolid).

Daniele’s work, with title “Multimodal Tutor: adaptive feedback from multimodal experience capturing” is focused on how multimodal data can be supportive for learning. As Di Mitri explains: “Since my background is in Artificial Intelligence, I am very interesting in using multimodal data not simply for analytics but also to generate adaptive feedback through machine learning techniques. For this reason, I follow the Artificial Intelligence in Education and Intelligent Tutoring System Community”.

UNIR iTED and Adecco Group analyse how to fill the gap between education and enterprises

In July, the 26th, 2018, the online session “How does a recruitment process work in Adecco?” took place. Experts from the company gave the key to increase the employability in the youngsters. The meeting was organized by Research Institute for Innovation & Technology in Education (UNIR iTED) at Universidad Internacional de La Rioja (UNIR) in the framework of the project Virtual Tours for Business Culture (Erasmus+). Iria Vázquez Palacios, Director of Service & Quality Department in Adecco Group, and Desirée Montiel, HR Consultant in the company, were invited to the session.

During the event, Vázquez-Palacios described the Adecco Group programmes focused on young people employability like “Redgeneración”, “Factoría de Talento” and “CEO for one month”. As the expert explained, in Spain –where the unemployement rate under 25 exceeds 30%–, there is a big gap between education and what companies demand. In this context, initiatives like Virtual Tours are key to help young people to develop the competences required for the labour market, since finishing  higher education is a complex moment where everybody needs orientation, inspiration and self-confidence.

Adecco Group also gave some clues to complete a recruitment process successfully

As Montiel pointed out, among these competences, those known as soft skills are the ones standing out, as they are more related to the personal abilities and to what can be offered to the company than with previous professional experience. The most demanded soft skills are management, work team, adaptation to changes,  communication, leadership, flexibility or resilience. The HR expert also gave the attendees some tips to complete a recruitment process successfully, from the composition of a CV to the guidance through every step in a job seek.

In the framework of the V-Tors project, funded by Erasmus+ Programme of European Union, Universidad Internacional de La Rioja (UNIR) among other European institutions, have organized various online sessions to enhance the dialogue opportunities between Universities, enterprises and students. In addition to the virtual visits, the consortium has developed an online course (Open Educational Resource) about business culture where students can get first-hand knowledge of the company’s organization.


Eva Ferreras


A UNIR student sets the image of Keystone European Project

Irantzu García, student of the Bachelor of Arts in Digital & Multimedia Design  in Universidad Internacional de La Rioja (UNIR), is the winner of the Graphic Design contest for Keystone project organized by Research Institute for Innovation & Technology in Education of Universidad Internacional de La Rioja (UNIR iTED) through the International Projects Office.

The contest, named “Keystone Project – Knowledge, Enterprise and Young People, Supporting youth transitions in the new economy” aimed to find the more representative image for Keystone project, financed by European program Erasmus+. The project works to stablish a collaborative program addressed to disadvantage young people in order to enhance their abilities and skills required by the labour market.

As Irantzu García -who has just finished her first year of degree- explains, the designed logo reflects simplicity and freshness, but allows keeping the attention focused on the important aspect: the work done during the project with disadvantaged young people. The project reveals the talent of young people and makes them participate in social innovations through the creation of four innovative spaces in Perugia, London, Athens and Lisbon. For García, the final image goes hand in hand with the project: it is simple but nice, and uses a stable figure like the square, although it plays with the perception by breaking the stability in order to make the picture funnier.

“The designed logo reflects simplicity but allows keeping the attention focused on the important aspect: the work done with disadvantaged young people”

Any student of the Bachelor of Arts in Digital & Multimedia Design, Digital Graphic Design Master Degree and Online Art Direction Master Degree of Universidad Internacional de La Rioja (UNIR) could participate in the contest. The jury, composed by staff of the Superior School of Engineering and Technology, and the Vice-rectorate for Knowledge Transfer & Technology, evaluated in a first stage the work, based on the creativity, the composition and the coherence between the elements of the design. In a second stage, and according these criteria, the European partners of Keystone project selected the final design.

Different European institutions participate in this project, together with Universidad Internacional de La Rioja (UNIR). UNIR leads the instructional design and the implementation of the open educational program.

UNIR iTED and Telefónica help you to improve your employability

On Friday 29th 2018 took place the virtual visit to the Telefónica’s Human Resources department about employability and young talent. The online session, that was the sixth in the framework of the european project Virtual Tours for Business Culture (Erasmus+), was organized by Research Institute for Innovation & Technology in Education of Universidad Internacional de La Rioja (UNIR iTED), had Eva Atienza, director of Human Resources of Telefónica.

During the event, Eva Atienza, professional with more than 18 years of experience in Human Resources, spoke about the Young Talent Recruitment Programs in Telefónica –as Talentum Programe–, that today are the key in a company that is making a strong bet on its transition to the digital world. Among these initiatives that fill the gap between University and companies, Atienza highlighted Hack For Good, a hackaton set up every year by Telefónica that gathers together young people who works for giving technoloical solutions to big social challenges. In the frame of Telefónica-UNIR Chair in Digital Society and Education, the Institute UNIR iTED gave three prizes about “Education, Culture and Open Society”.

Companies value soft skills like adaptability, team work or passion about technologies

After the presentation, assistants could ask different questions about selection and hiring processes to Telefónica experts Florie Saulnier, Resourcing & Talent Head, and Beatriz Martínez, HR Business Partner. From personal conciliation to tricks to face a job hunting, the main questions were refered to the soft skillscompanies are looking for. As Saulnier explained, companies like Telefónica value the ability to learn and apply the knowledge to new situations, sometimes even more than previous experience. These soft skills include adaptability, creativity, customer orientation, communicational skills, team work or passion about technologies.

V-Tours project, financed by Erasmus+ Programme of European Union, aims to enhance the dialogue opportunities between Universities, enterprises and students in order to promote the acquisition of career development skills and improve the employability of students. Besides the virtual visits, in the frame of the project an online course about business culture has been developed where students can learn the competences that will help them in joining the professional world, and they will have access to activities, videos and lectures that will allow them them to get first-hand knowledge of the companies organization.

Together with Universidad Internacional de La Rioja (UNIR), in this project participate different european institutions. UNIR leads the instructional design and the implementation of the open educational program.

Eva Ferreras

A cross-cultural study compares the cybervictimization and cyberagression scores between Spain, Colombia and Uruguay

As a consecuence of the revolution Internet has made in the way we communicate, a lot of psychosocial problems have found their equivalence on cyberspace with their own particularities as inmediacy or anonymity. Is what happens with ciberbullying, which prevalence and incidence have increased dramatically in recent years. Although intensive research has been conducted on cyberbullying in the USA and Europe, few efforts are being made in Latin America. Despite cultural similarities between the Spanish and the South American contexts, there are few empirical studies that have comparatively examined this issue.

The study, performed by experts from Universidad Internacional de La Rioja (UNIR), analyzes and compares cybervictimization and cyberagression scores between Spain, Colombia and Uruguay. Results showed that Spain presents more cases of minor cyberbullying than Colombia, and more cases of cyberagression than Colombia and Uruguay. The study shows that prevalence rates were higher in the 13-14 and 15-16 age groups.

 A lot of psychosocial problems have found their equivalence on cyberspace with their own particularities: inmediacy, anonymity, etc.

Also, the study describes and compares the role of cyber bystander, a figure that is gaining relevance due its potential in preventing or perpetuating bullying. According to data, there is a prevalence of the sub-role defender of the victim and outsider. Data showed a homogeneous distribution across countries, except for the roles of supporter and reinforcer of the bully. The prevalence of these roles was considerabily high in the 10-14 year range in the Colombian sample, where support to the victim was lower.

As Joaquín González-Cabrera, reserach at UNIR, says: “because of the social and cultural violence context in Colombia we though that it would be there where we would find more cybervictimization and cyberagression cases, and also more support to the bully. Only the last thing has been supported by results. We discuss our results in relation to the possible normalization of violence and its lack of recognition as such, that may be because respondents’ inability to recognize that their cyberbullying related behaviors are problematic or a form of cyber abuse. In Spain we have a high awareness about bullying and cyberbullying, what can generate a bigger response”.

Spain presents more cases of minor cyberbullying than Colombia, and more cases of cyberagression than Colombia and Uruguay

In relation with a problematic use of Internet, countries revealed prevalence rates ranging from 4.5% of problematic cases in Uruguay to 6.8% in Spain, which is consistent with previous studies. The dimensions that seem to predict best cyberbullying were mood regulation (for cybervictimization), negative effects (for cyberagression) and compulsive use (for both of them). As Daniela Baridon-Chauvie, researcher at UNIR, says: “There is growing evidence that problematic Internet use among adolescents has a negative impact of their quality of life, as it causes changes in heath habits and interferes with their family, social and academic life”.

The study shows that prevalence rates were higher in the 13-14 and 15-16 age groups

The study sample consisted of 2.653 subjects aged 10-18 years, of whom 50,8% were male and 49,1% were female. Students were recruited from schools from north to south and from east to west of each country. All centers were located in urban areas with a population of low-medium socioeconomic status. “Data about participants conext are relevant and allow us to focus on the lines of action“. Carolina Yudes, researcher at UNIR, says: “Methodologycal diversity have made difficult to perform cross-cultural anaylsis on this subject. This study have homogenized questionaries and scales, which will allow future comparative studies among different countries. This study may serve as a reference for future cross-cultural studies”.

Yudes-Gómez, C., Baridon-Chauvie, D. y González-Cabrera, J. (2018). Ciberacoso y uso problemático de Internet en Colombia, Uruguay y España: un estudio transcultural. Comunicar, 56, 49-58.  DOI:


– Eva Ferreras

UNIR iTED contributes to the Open Education Global Conference

In April 24-26 took place the Open Education Global Conference 2018, in Delft, The Netherlands, a diverse conference focused on open education where researchers, policy makers, educators and students from more than 35 countries discussed and explored about the topic. Along the event, Daniel Burgos, UNESCO Chair on eLearning, ICDE Chair in OER and director of Research Institute for Innovation & Technology in Education (UNIR iTED) contribute to an expert panel. This initiative was organized by a group of UNESCO and ICDE Chairs in Open Educational Resources (OER) in cooperation with a few related organizations, such as Open Education Consortium (OEC), Creative Commons (CC), UNESCO IITE and ICORE.

The panel, called “How can the OER community put he UNESCO OER Action Plan into practice?”, addressed the them “Open Educational Practices/Open Pedagogy” to improve Open Education for better learning quality, and it was part of the discussion about how opening in education helps us achieve universal access, equity, innovation and opportunity in education. In the panel also participated Christian M. Stracke (ICDE Chair in OER, Open University of the Netherlands), Zeynep Varoglu (UNESCO Programme Specialist responsable for OER Action Plan), Jane-Frances Agbu (ICDE Chair in OER, National Open University of Nigeria) and Tel Amiel (UNESCO Chair in Open Education, University of Campinas, Brazil).

The panel was part of the discussion about how opening in education helps us achieve universal access, equity, innovation and opportunity in education

Burgos commented that “Open education is the key for sustainable education. The smart combination of open and proprietary research, data, content, tools and, specially, licensing, means the innovation breakthrough towards an improved educational paradigm. If we can combine formal and informal settings so that we take the best out of both approaches, in a collaborative way, all the stakeholders win.

This panel was a first follow-up activity of the common panel “The Role of the OER community” byt the UNESCO and ICDE Chairs at the UNESCO World OER Congress 2017, that brought together more than 500 stakeholders from over 100 Member States, including 14 Ministers of Education. The expert panel discussed how innovative open pedagogies and open educational practices using OER can support and increase the implementations and practices of the Ljubljana 2017 OER Action Plan adopted in that Congress.


– Eva Ferreras



The paradox of too much support

13 years ago, a colleague from Utrecht University (in the Netherlands) and I wrote the article The paradox of the assisted user: guidance can be counterproductive. The bottom line looks simple:  if somebody gets too much help, they will learn less. Too much support might be counterproductive. Even my grandmother, with no school education, who grew up in a mountain village in central Spain, shared the reflection immediately. As a reminder, I will highlight that 13 years ago means no Whatsapp and Instagram, and almost no Facebook, Skype or Netflix-ish services, not to mention so many other daily tools that today jam the global communication networks with silly smileys, excessive selfies and typo-ed short, cryptic sentences. The students now collect more means, channels and tools to get connected, retrieve and post information, share, create, explore, and spend the time. University teachers, in turn, complain about that diversity and how the individual’s over-exposure to the ICT matrix kills the desire for learning, the ability to focus, the deep thinking process, and so many other beautiful features of a grown-up human being.

The most common self-analysis of our performance shows an over-attention, over-support, over-concerned attitude from the teachers

However, we should look into ourselves. I think that university teachers (and teachers, at large, in every level) spoil our students. We patronize them, summon them, tell them off, and reward them. Sometimes it is as if Pavlov in person was guiding our actions. Instead of teaching we do radical parenting with them. In every workshop, in diverse countries, from East to West, North to South, the complaints resound: the students do not deliver, do not pay attention, do not focus, do not perform, etc. Recently, I was sharing a vivid work session with my colleagues at An-Najah National University (Nablus, Palestine), and the same feeling was discussed openly, irrespective of culture, language and context. And what about us, the faculty members? What about the academic layer? Are we doing just ok, good, excellent or lousily? The most common self-analysis of our performance shows an over-attention, over-support, over-concerned attitude from the teachers; I guess that it comes from some sort of childhood trauma or complex or lack of opportunities when we were younger. However, we are not their parents, priests or parole officers. We support their effort if they show that effort, but we cannot lower the bar just because they do not reach it. We accompany them the full way, if they want to run that extra mile. However, we cannot be pulling up all the time. If we do so, we epically fail, as teachers, as mentors and as supporters. If we support too much, the supported will not be developed by themselves.

We must stop so much care, concern and students spoiling. We play poorly and we complain later about the result. Even worse: we blame others. We blame them. This is not the way. The student is responsible for their learning as a learner, and they are responsible of their lives as persons. We can get along, walk along and come along; however, we cannot do their job and replace their joy for learning by ours. It is immature and ineffective, and I mean from the teachers, and not from the students. We all need to fall, raise, try, fail, win, lose and, in short, grow up. Let the student be a student. Let the learner learn.

Daniel Burgos
Nablus, Palestine
19 de febrero, 2019

Workshop HELMeTO 2019

Online university courses are nowadays widespread, both at traditional and at full distance learning institutions. This phenomenon affects both European and American institutions. As an example, in Italy, about 10% of university students are enrolled in online courses and the figures are increasing. The academic staff involved in online teaching is growing as well and the research about the teaching methodologies in virtual learning environments is undergoing a marked increase. On the other hand, the exploitation and analysis of learning data are becoming a fundamental prerequisite for supporting strategic decisions in several contexts, such as predicting dropouts and improving student experience and success rate.

International Workshop on Higher Education Learning Methodologies and Technologies Online

This led to the organization of HELMeTO 2019, the first International Workshop on Higher Education Learning Methodologies and Technologies Online, which aims to bring together researchers and practitioners working in Higher Distance Education Institutions or studying Online Learning Methodologies to present and share their research in a multidisciplinary context. The workshop provides a forum for the discussion of new research directions and applications in these fields, where different disciplines could effectively meet.

The location of the workshop is the headquarter of eCampus University, one of the main Italian distance learning univeristies, located in Novedrate (CO), Italy.

HELMeTO 2019 is technically sponsored by SIREM, Società Italiana di Ricerca sull’Educazione Mediale

PS: Call for papers

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