Read the interview with Eliana Ferrulli, leading Project Manager of DigiCirc.

DigiCirc: A Successful Online Learning Project for the Circular Economy

Read the interview with Eliana Ferrulli, leading Project Manager of DigiCirc.

The Story

DigiCirc is a European-funded project - created in collaboration with the Turin Polytechnic - that enables the digitalization of the Circular Economy by supporting SMEs' circular innovation in three strategic domains: Circular Cities, Blue Economy, and Bioeconomy. The project launched in April 2021 will end in March 2023, and all the courses will be open to the general public. Abstract Technology supports Turin Polytechnic since 2018 in developing and enhancing its custom e-learning solution based on Open edX® platform.

The Key Facts

  • The team:
    • Silvia Barbero, Scientific coordinator
    • Alessandro Campanella, IT support
    • Eliana Ferrulli, leading Project Manager
  • 17 courses divided into 5 lessons each offered through the Open edX® platform
  • 10 contributing partners with different contents
  • 3 acceleration programs for SMEs

The time has come to reflect on this success story and collect feedback from the people directly involved in the project. We decided to interview Eliana Ferrulli, leading Project Manager of DigiCirc.

The Interview

Abstract: Hi Eliana. It is a pleasure to meet you again and to talk about your experiences managing DigiCirc. Let's start talking about the project itself. What were the challenges you were facing? Is there a main one in particular?

Eliana: The big challenge was to provide the innovative European start-ups with various tools for business acceleration. This means providing practical content, but also operational tools or communication and marketing concepts. The biggest challenge was the content to be diversified, exhaustive, and useful for the different companies involved, but not all companies have the same learning needs.

Abstract: Of course, we are aware of the importance of responding to different learner types and needs. How did you tackle this big challenge?

Eliana: We have initially defined some crosssectoral topics, useful to support SMES both at thematic and operational level, which constituted the standard and horizontal baseline for our courses. Then, we customized this preparation by offering the companies some targeted coaching and mentoring session, to better respond to their specific needs and give more practical knowledge.

Abstract: This sounds like a kind of hybrid learning model, isn’t it?

Eliana: Oh yes, it is. We run e-learning courses and synchronous workshops as well.

Abstract: This confirms that the hybrid model needs to be supported by a highly flexible and scalable platform like the Open edX® platform. What are in your opinion the main advantages of the Open edX® platform?

Eliana: In particular, we find it useful to encourage learner engagement and deliver interactive lessons. For example, among the main advantages of the Open edX® platform there are:

  • Subtitles and transcript integration;
  • Slides download.

Abstract: Are you thinking of adopting a complete e-learning path for your learners?

Eliana: Yes, I think we are ready to take that step, but we need to expand the platform to include more collaborative and interactive learning tools and add-ons, such as a virtual whiteboard or Zoom calls. We want to engage learners and collect feedback to improve the overall user experience.

Abstract: We try to develop and test new features on the Open edX® platform. May we ask you about your experience with the built-in authoring tool Studio?

Eliana: In my opinion, the platform worked well for a complex project like DigiCirc: 17 courses divided into 5 lessons, and a lot of videos. We would have liked a few more features. For example, a smoother user interface, and avoiding dropdown menu. We found the drop-down menu structure hinders the usability of the lessons. Another improvement was to make on the evaluation page (simpler and clearer). I also suggest introducing a more effective password recovery system. People often lose their credentials.

Abstract: Thank you for your interesting and open feedback. What about the available course components?

Eliana: II think the video transcripts and uploading content were essential for course development. We ran two courses simultaneously and tried to manage different users who were enrolled in more than one course. Without these asynchronous tools, we would not have been able to meet our learning objectives.

Abstract: What do you think about Abstract Technology as service provider and what was your experience throughout the whole project?

Eliana: The relationship between Abstract Technology and Turin Polytechnic has been excellent. We are very satisfied with the technical support: every request for clarification or problem has been solved immediately. We received prompt and accurate feedback. In the future, we would love to also contract the course design support services.

Abstract: Thank you so much! It is also a pleasure for us to work with you! Instructional design is essential for every educational project and in particular in digital ones. How was your experience in developing your online courses?

Eliana: We decided to rely on a professional video maker to realize a good video production. Online courses have completely different rules in the classroom. Those are different environments, and you need experts to achieve your objected results: A video lesson is short, and you have to set the length, the background, and the light. You have to pay attention to all the details.

Abstract: We agree and we are aware that it is essential to spread culture on designing and developing online courses. Open edX® platform is a pioneer in this topic. Why did you choose an open source platform like Open edX?

Eliana: Definitely, we evaluated several alternatives but the Open edX® platform enabled us to have a professional product and save costs. I think the platform will be used over the pre-defined project duration and then by new users. It will be expanded to offer new MOOCs.

Do you want more information about DigiCirc?

Go to https://digicirc.eu/ or visit the DigiCirc platform

Are you interested in starting your own project?

If you are thinking to build a new e-learning platform to combine academic and business needs, contact us at: here

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