Course Description

The PhD program in Learning Sciences and Digital Technologies is designed to investigate the relationships between technologies and social and material contexts in educational processes. One of the distinctive features of this program lies in its interdisciplinary nature, incorporating contributions from both hard and human sciences.

The central focus of the training and research activities is the theme of emerging and innovative technologies and their impact on teaching and learning processes for the development of methodological approaches and of original solutions and tools. PhD students will acquire knowledge of the pedagogical and neuroscientific fundamentals of learning, teaching theories, and digital design to develop new technologies, analyze educational big data, and design teaching and assessment methods and tools. The program initiatives will also address legal issues related to data management and privacy protection, the training of individuals with disabilities and special educational needs in formal, informal, or non-formal contexts, educational and rehabilitative strategies for socially vulnerable or disadvantaged groups.

Students will develop specialized knowledge by participating in relevant research projects involving academic and industrial/professional communities.

At a glance

  • Duration: three years
  • Starting: Nov, 1st 2024
  • Application deadline: August 2nd, 2024
  • Available positions: 37
  • Available scholarship: 33
  • Institutions: 24 nationwide
  • Managing institution
    University of Modena and Reggio Emilia
  • Scientific Coordinator
    prof. Pier Cesare Rivoltella (University of Bologna)
  • Managing Coordinator
    prof. Tommaso Minerva (University of Modena and Reggio Emilia)
  • More info:

Admission Requirements

Applicants must be in possession of either an Italian higher level degree (laurea specialistica under D.M. 509/99 or laurea magistrale under D.M. 270/04), or an Italian degree obtained prior to D.M. 509/99, or an equivalent qualification obtained abroad.
More information available in the call for admission.

Topics and Curricula

The PhD is structured into three curricula: e-Teaching & e-Learning, ETELTechnology Enhanced Learning & Advanced Technologies for Education, TEL-ATENew Literacies & Digital Citizenship, NELIT. The curricula, while maintaining the interdisciplinary nature of the program, focus on different areas of study and research, in brief: teaching and learning processes; technological innovations; digital citizenship and skills.

The e-Teaching & e-Learning (ETEL) curriculum focuses on neuroscientific issues related to learning (learning brain) and the instructional work of teachers (teacher brain). It deals with the instructional design and planning of teaching and learning activities using mixed models that combine real-world and digital contexts (phygital solutions). The curriculum covers assessment and certification of learning in hybrid, blended, and online teaching settings. It also explores digital learning environments and social networking systems for formal and informal learning, with a specific emphasis on e-tutoring and e-moderation strategies. Additionally, it addresses faculty development and digital schooling.

The Technology Enhanced Learning & Advanced Technologies for Education (TEL-ATE) curriculum concerns technologies and strategies for subject-specific didactics and training, including in multilingual and intercultural contexts. It focuses on implementing effective multimedia tools and content in teaching activities, for digital skill acquisition, and for creating accessible and inclusive learning pathways. The curriculum explores gaming environments and tools for achieving specific educational goals and their applications in rehabilitation and physical well-being. It also covers knowledge management, indexing, and sharing, such as web ontologies and open education. Furthermore, it delves into the applications and ethical and social implications of algorithms and artificial intelligence systems (machine learningdeep learning, and reinforcement learning) in educational areas, with a focus on big data.

The New Literacies & Digital Citizenship (NELIT) curriculum explores the concept of literacy and its evolution, focusing on visual languages, digital media and technologies, data, information, and AI technologies (visual literacy, digital literacy, information literacy, data literacy, and AI literacy). The curriculum addresses socially interactive robotics and examines its ethical, psychological, and educational implications in situations of disadvantage and disability. It explores the personalization and development of tutoring and assessment systems through hardware, software, and artificial intelligence systems. The curriculum also covers the generation, management, and use of big data in the educational domain, considering digital citizenship and e-democracy. It addresses protecting personal data, particularly in the education domain and for individuals of school age. Additionally, it explores digital discrimination in access to digital tools and the Internet. Lastly, it covers the management of virtual communities based on sharing knowledge and skills, experiences, ideologies, and goals.