Online platform offers quality education for all

Using the University of Naples’ Federica web learning platform, the Campus Virtuale project has created an online space that provides access to high-quality education for everyone, everywhere. Courses are available in a wide range of subjects, with vocational training also on offer. Furthermore, the project – based in the Campania region of southern Italy – has fostered innovation in education through use of novel infrastructure and equipment, and promoted international cooperation between educational institutions and business.

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Orientation page on the Federica web learning platform © Federica Weblearning Orientation page on the Federica web learning platform © Federica Weblearning

" Thanks to years of research, testing and innovation, and a team of young professionals, Federica has developed an extraordinarily efficient interface incorporating texts, videos and a rich set of links to the most authoritative online sources, while paying special attention to design, in the best Italian tradition. "

Mauro Calise, professor of political science at the University of Naples Federico II, editor of the International Political Science Association web portal, and director of Federica Weblearning

Thanks to Campus Virtuale, Federica hosts more than 300 courses and 100 massive open online courses (MOOCs) – courses with unlimited participation – on two platforms, with more in the pipeline. It also has some 50 courses on the edX platform, founded by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University.

In addition, Federica has partnered with industry to trial MOOC approaches to corporate training, worked with publishers to explore blending printed and online delivery of educational material and developed a MOOC-based political science core curriculum.

Falling graduate numbers

Federica and Campus Virtuale came as a response to low and falling numbers of graduates in Italy – with 26 % of people aged 30 to 34 holding a degree compared to a European average of 39 % – allied to a lack of resources for investing in universities. Multimedia education provides a practical and cost-effective way of overcoming these challenges.

Embracing the idea, the University of Naples set up Federica and subsequently turned it into a university centre with full administrative autonomy and its own team of educational technologists.

Initially, Federica managed production of courses mainly targeted at university students as support to on-campus study. It then opened up to a wider audience, enriching courses with more textual content and video contributions from professors to turn them into stand-alone MOOC products. This increased participant numbers and by the end of 2016 its pages had received some 9 million views.

Whether learners use Federica as a support to or a replacement for standard university attendance, the platform facilitates collection and analysis of data on their use to optimise the learning environment.

Renowned academics

As Italy’s university system is public, access to Federica courses is free, offering a potentially unlimited student audience and an expanding lifelong learning target group. Instructors are recruited from among the most authoritative academics in their fields and produce all their resources with support from a specialised team. The centre is also characterised by intensive research, including organisation of international workshops.

The Federica platforms feature an innovative and user-friendly interface, which allows seamless navigation between text and videos. For each course, 35 professionally produced videos accompany in-depth text material and guided access to the wealth of sources available online, which are largely open-source, with hyperlinks embedded into text slides.

Within Campus Virtuale, Federica worked to improve knowledge transfer between universities and third parties, developing a wide international network that has led to research collaborations, provision of consultancy services and creation of spin-offs, among other things. It is now set to offer full degrees in MOOC format – a groundbreaking step for a prestigious public institution.

Total investment and EU funding

Total investment for the project “Campus Virtuale - Federica Web Learning” is EUR 9 900 000, with the EU’s European Regional Development Fund contributing EUR 8 275 549 through the “Campania” Operational Programme for the 2007-2013 programming period. The investment falls under the priority “Information Society”.

 

Draft date

02/11/2018

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