Innovating teaching during the emergency

Alma Mater’s initiatives to support online learning.

The specific measures in place to contain the current health emergency have had a major impact on teaching activities and, as a result, distance learning has been introduced. Therefore, considering that online learning is becoming a necessary tool in this phase of emergency in order to continue to offer a service that is essential for the University of Bologna and its students, the Education and PhD Division - Quality Assurance and Teaching Innovation Unit, in agreement with the Vice Rector for Teaching and the Delegate for Teaching Innovation, has come up with a series of initiatives for teachers to help them support and innovate online and blended learning.

Online and blended learning

The event was held on June 10th 2021 with the aim of encourage the sharing and networking of online and blended learning practices, conceived during the emergency phase. The professors were asked to share with the University Didactic Innovation team what they considered to be the most effective teaching experiences, emerged within the study programmes, to be shared in a common way by fellow teachers from other scientific areas and study programmes.

The event was organized by scientific-disciplinary areas. In order to outline values ​​and strategies useful for designing scenarios for the immediate future of learning, the members of the Didactic Innovation team presented the most significant points during a subgroup discussion by scientific areas.

Overview and Showcase of online Learning Experiences.

The project is aimed at collecting the solutions adopted by Alma Mater teachers to make online learning sustainable and effective. The purpose of the initiative is to achieve, among other things, the following goals: to create a network for sharing experiences and to start reflecting on how to experiment and disseminate online learning strategies and methodologies. The experiences submitted by the teachers of the University of Bologna, through a specially designed form, have been divided into Scientific and Disciplinary Areas and “thematic areas”. The data provided was analysed with the aim of enriching the University’s educational offer in terms of teaching quality and innovation.

Five workshops (for the Scientific, Technological, Humanistic, Social and Medical Divisions) were therefore created, which will be held remotely in May and June by a disciplinary teacher and a facilitator teacher. The initiative is aimed at preparing teachers to face the new phase in which blended learning will be possible. Indirectly, the project is aimed at encouraging the sharing and dissemination of online learning experiences, keeping teachers networked and, through discussion, it is aimed not only at generating further ideas but also at encouraging an experimental approach to teaching methodologies. 

Consequently, the purpose of the workshops is to share and compare the results of the survey and to design a new teaching scenario, both in person and online, which will be defined together with the teachers hosting the session, exploring new methodologies and new and improved ways of interacting with our students. 

During the academic year 2020/21 were continue experience of the workshops with moments of discussion, always carried out online, focused on the criticalness and opportunities of blended teaching. Six editions have been realized, each with a specific and homogeneous target of participants as regards the role:  researchers, professors, etc.

Webinar “Questioning, peer instruction and research community. Promoting active learning in virtual classrooms, in online and blended mode.

After analysing the online learning experiences and taking into account the outcomes of the workshops, a webinar will be created, which will be offered in several editions in September and December. It will be addressed to the whole academic community so as to disseminate the results that emerged in the classroom and share new teaching strategies and methodologies for supporting teaching in the new phase, in which blended learning will be possible.

Innovating teaching during the emergency - video

In parallel, and in order to ensure new ways of sharing knowledge, some thematic videos have been made available to Unibo teachers. The aim of this is to stimulate virtuous processes for generating knowledge exchange.

In addition, the outcomes of the online learning workshops will be made available to the entire academic community also by producing videos in which the specific features of each Scientific and Disciplinary Area will be highlighted with regard to the conception and development of new methodological solutions supporting distance and blended learning.  

Some of the videos made so far include: La voce degli studenti (The voice of students) - Elena Luppi, La comunicazione nella didattica Online (Communication in online learning) - Giovanna Cosenza, Dalla didattica in presenza alla didattica online. Cosa cambia? (From classroom learning to online learning. What has changed?) - Sebastiano Moruzzi, L’apprendimento in rete: aspetti metodologici e suggerimenti didattici (Learning online: methodological aspects and teaching tips) - Luca Ferrari, La valutazione nella didattica online (Assessment in online learning) - Ira Vannini


Workshop “Blended Synchronous Learning in the age of COVID-19: Patterns and principles for simultaneously teaching face-to-face and online students” - Prof. Matt Bower

On 16 September 2020, an online seminar was held, in English, with the participation of Prof. Matt Bower, Associate Professor of Learning Technologies at Macquarie University, Sydney, who offered interesting insights that will be useful for organising blended learning in the coming semester. There are 280 places available. See the presentation

The video of Prof. Bower’s speech is available in the right column.


Online learning for students

In this phase, since traditional teaching methods are not an option, it is essential to encourage discussions, sharing and the active involvement of students, bringing them to the centre of the learning process, even at a distance. This is why the Alma Mater launched a survey addressed to students, who were asked to answer a questionnaire, the results of which offered interesting insights into the management of online learning.

In total, almost 10,000 students from all Unibo degree programmes and disciplinary areas participated in the survey.