Category Archives: Issues

Incontri di Fisica 2.0


The Italian Institute of Nuclear Physics, INFN, and Università degli Studi Guglielmo Marconi continue their strong and fruitful collaboration in scientific research and learning programs. In this context, after fifteen successfully edition and starting from 2016, the two institutions propose together a new version of the “Incontri di Fisica”, now named “Incontri di Fisica 2.0”.

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New instruments for advanced Distance Learning Universities – the virtual lab on Lighting technique

The use of innovative high technology-based instruments to deliver higher education in e-learning Universities is a challenge that must be addressed to satisfy the growing request for distance education in high technologies. (…)This paper intends to prove the valuable contribution that advanced distance learning Universities may give to their students, by illustrating an instance of a dynamic virtual laboratory developed for a specific course at the Guglielmo Marconi University.

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The didactics of foreign languages and multimedia technology: teaching to translate

This article aims to provide an example of the application of multimedia technologies to the learning of foreign languages. We will present the case of a French Language and Translation course for intermediate learners implemented at Guglielmo Marconi University. The course is divided into two parts: the first part is composed of a multimedia course created by other teachers of the university, while the second consists of ten video lessons recorded by me and devoted to the theory and practice of translation, referring specifically to Italian and French.

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Online discussion forums: a tool for stimulating language teachers’ interaction and reflection

Teachers’ approaches and decisions in the classroom are guided by their beliefs on what it means to teach and to learn, which are formed along their lives both as students and as teachers. (…) Considering the importance of reflection in teacher education, in this paper, we discuss the interactive potential of online discussion forums in a graduate course to foster language teachers’ reflection of their beliefs and classroom practices. (…)The findings point out that understanding, interpreting and confronting beliefs can be a path to the transformation of teachers’ reflective and teaching practices. When contrasting their beliefs with other people’s beliefs, teachers can trigger a process of self-analysis of their roles as language teachers. They also emphasize that the use of online discussion forums as a pedagogical tool can contribute in this direction.

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Using the virtual classroom system to teach a traditional girls’ classroom: benefits & challenges

This paper focuses on fulltime girls students’ perspectives of using the virtual classroom (via the Blackboard system) as a main teaching tool to deliver and teach learning materials. It also presents teachers’ views on using this system in comparison with the videoconference system used by male faculty staff members to teach female students at their campuses. (…)

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Development of authoring tools for online-courses with assignments

Today’s workforce faces a dynamic world with changing occupations, tasks, and demanding technologies – forcing people to adapt their skills and competences permanently to new requirements. Many achieve further qualifications in parallel to their working careers, often without adequate support or suitable educational institutions. Competence-based learning (CBL) aims for including formal and informal learning into everyday life: at the workplace or during leisure activities.

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Modern technologies and distance learning in science didactics

The availability of online video and increasing student access to technology has paved the way for “flipped classroom” models. In such a model, traditional teaching methods are inverted and instruction and lessons are delivered online outside of class moving homework into the classroom. (…) Many instructors have pointed out as well the benefits of a model called “peer instruction” and essentially based on an interactive learning principle, developed by Harvard Professor Eric Mazur in the early 1990s and used in the beginning to improve learning in introductory undergraduate physics classes at Harvard University. (…) In the present article, such modern teaching methods and their possible application to distance learning scientific courses will be discussed, emphasizing how the interplay between the two could allow distance learning teaching to close the gap with respect to traditional didactics, as well as possibly permitting to surpass its limits.

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New challenges to promote a deeper interaction between e‐learning and research: Practical approach and virtual lab to provide an overview of what really happens in a laboratory of radiobiology

With the aim to illustrate to the students what really happens in a radiobiology’s laboratory, a virtual lab was created.

Through an interactive simulation of both X-ray generator and mouse models, the students can expand their knowledge about the biological effects induced by ionizing radiation using new pedagogical and technological strategies.

The realized multimedia product has also been inserted as a case study to promote a deeper interaction between e-learning and research.

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Teaching, researching and learning in a technology‐based environment

This paper analyses the relationship between teaching, researching and learning in the current wired-society.

Nowadays the technology of online communications is having an impact on the way people access to information and culture. Hence, we will show how education industry can take advantage of this “network society”, to tackle ancient problems, and then to build a better course design and to share knowledge more efficiently.

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A powerful learning object based on Multiple Answer Test

One of the principal, and still unsolved, problems for the worldwide university system is the high drop-out rate that is observed especially for STEM courses. The causes of this trend are various but many of them are directly related to the sense of abandon felt by students especially during first years. This trend can be inverted providing a set of self-assessment activities to organize students personal study-method and to transmit them a proper self-government. In this context, we realized a self-assessment activity for Physics courses based on Multiple Answers Questionnaire. (…)

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Smart University: the sustainable vector of knowledge

The term smart has been increasingly used to refer to a process of rethinking and modernization in different areas and contexts, covering the use of innovative technology solutions, sharing networks and data, and access to goods and services. That’s all feasible thanks to multi-stakeholder participation at different levels, and access through the use of ICT. (…)

This work, by considering a smart society unavoidably aimed to sustainability, particularly highlights the close link between smart university and sustainability.

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A selection of papers presented at the IX International GUIDE Conference are published in this issue of Formamente. The Conference, held from the 6th to the 8th of May 2015 at the University of Salvador, in Buenos Aires, was dealing with an argument very important: “Online Education and Society: The Challenges of the Digital Era”.

The quality of the papers and the high number of universities participating to the conference from Latin America, USA, Saudi Arabia, Germany, Turkey, Spain, UK, Italy, confirm the constant interest of the international academic world for both theoretical and operative aspects of the use of ICT for teaching and learning.

This issue of Formamente analyzes deeply the use of new technologies in the academic programs of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM); the articles selected present objective experiences and research results together with the experimentation of dynamic tools such as video-lectures, virtual classes and interactive virtual laboratories, online discussion forums, compatible with the latest generation intelligent devices.

The theoretical reflection that arises from the experiences presented are dealing with the smartification of science and smart university, and the flipped classroom; on one side it is analyzed the role of universities for the development of innovation, sustainability and efficacy of the educational process, on the other side, the flipped classroom approach changes the traditional relation between educational activities, focusing on the individual study through online video-lectures followed by in-class exercises with teachers’ support.

The combination of these components – intelligent devices and smart technologies in flipped classrooms – represents the challenge of our digital era: cutting-edge pedagogies for a successful university to give students the best learning experience.

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The Challenge Academy: a creative crowdsourcing model for strengthening university-business cooperation

Crowdsourcing is a process of obtaining needed services, ideas, or content by soliciting contributions from a large group of people, and especially from an online community, rather than from traditional employees or suppliers. Challenge Academy applies the concept of crowdsourcing by offering an online platform for practicing skills and knowledge of the collective students population to solve business-related challenges.

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Mobile learning technologies & educational applications

Mobile learning has been one of the reflections of the widespread adoption of wireless technology and Internet access from any place and anytime if requested. Technology and pedagogy are two main elements in mobile learning platform to identify in terms of educational process. Technology defines the platform and pedagogy defines the learning approach.

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Career guidance from an educational perspective: a proposal within universities

This article discusses the importance of guidance within university education and proposes a good-practice model for helping students to transition from university to employment. The analysis arises from educational approach to guidance, that over the last few years is providing an alternative to mainly psycho-technical and diagnostic approach, and conceives guidance practice as a process that is cross-functional concerning students’ educational path.

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Instructional delivery utilizing a blended format

Current trends in technology and new strategies in curriculum design have yielded a new methodology for content area course delivery. Blended learning is now being utilized in many colleges and universities to deliver instruction with a balanced approach in mind. This format provides new avenues in curriculum design and instructional delivery. Blended learning unites the best of both worlds in a post-secondary instructional model.

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Competitive strategies as an effective instrument of enterprise development

Nowadays the business environment is very unstable, so the companies should adapt quickly to the changes in the market to maintain their positions. That’s why the effective instruments of management will provide their success. The most successful companies are those that focus their efforts strategically. A successful strategy adds value for the targeted customers over the long run by consistently meeting their needs better than the competition does.

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Advanced inter-organizational collaboration for knowledge transfer in educational systems

Inter-organisational collaboration is forced and based on knowledge transfer. Educational systems are fields of application, research subjects as well as training provision domains for knowledge transfer in inter-organisational context.

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A technological enhanced self-assessment activity to reduce university drop-out

Passage from secondary school to university can be difficult for our students if they are not properly followed by instructors. To curtail the high university drop-out rate detected in various countries, a set of self-assessment activities must be devised by teachers to furnish students an important help in organizing their personal study-method and to gain a proper self-government.

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Formamente closes its tenth year of publication presenting a new issue with original articles dedicated to two transversal themes: didactic and educational research with advanced multimedia technologies; and the importance of the social dimension in economic analysis, in a broad sense.

In section Research, it is presented a project that takes advantage of IT tools’ flexibility to contribute reducing the drop-out rate in traditional universities, which is very high especially during the first years. Starting from the idea of a test with multiple answers, a dedicated platform allows the student to self-evaluate his/her knowledge both in itinere and before taking the final exam.

Thanks to the possibility of selecting either one topic or the entire program, the system guides the students during their preparation, and puts them in direct relation with their professors, who can monitor their progress. A dedicated database gathers all the results and allow to evaluate objectively the quality of didactic materials.

In the Application section, the need to face university drop-out is afforded from a different point of view: it is suggested to begin in analyzing pre-conditions in order to remove obstacles; then multiply good practices in knowledge transfer and sustain creative models of problem solving (such as the creative crowdsourcing model), focused on the challenging cooperation between universities and business.

Some complementary issues dealing with globalization are further analyzed in the section Research: the integration between financial and economic markets and speculative vulnerability, positively influenced by the social element of confidence.

In the section Application, the global market economy is further explored with an analysis of competitive strategies put into practice by sustainable business companies in their processes of management and implementation.

In order to integrate academic research, knowledge transfer and a conscious interpretation of the pathological phases of the economic and financial crisis, emerges the need to develop good practices between universities and labor market, thanks to the adoption of wireless technologies, mobile learning platforms and unlimited internet access.

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International GUIDE Conferences: Buenos Aires and beyond

The IX International GUIDE Conference, held in Buenos Aires from 6th to 8th May 2015, has seen the participation of outstanding universities coming from numerous countries of Latin America (Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Venezuela) as well as from USA, Saudi Arabia, Germany, Turkey, Spain, Italy and UK.

The Conference focused on different topics, ranging from the comparison between traditional and distance education to relevant social themes, such as digital inclusion, e-citizenship and online education accessibility. (…)

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Collaborative learning and 3D virtual worlds: two experiences in a new didactic perspective

Nowadays teachers and trainers pay attention to the research and the experimentation of innovative pedagogical tools and approaches, such as simulation and 3D virtual world in order to improve the learning capacity of their students. Sometimes they invest time and financial resources to manage their updating courses, especially about how new technological potentialities can be exploited and integrated into their mainstream teaching methods. Also the use of different learning environments apart from the traditional class can stimulate the learning processes creating more educational opportunities and favoring the development of other approaches, such as collaborative learning.

This type of learning approach is represented by a situation where two or more individuals learn or try to learn something together aimed to the building of a common knowledge. Unlike the individual learning, people engage themselves in a collaborative learning process in order to capitalize on each other’s resources and competences. More specifically, the collaborative learning model is based on knowledge that can be constructed within a community in which members interact actively through sharing experiences and assuming asymmetric roles. In other terms, the collaborative learning refers to methodologies and specific environments where the students engage in a common task in which each individual depends on each other and is responsible for the others.

This article intends to describe two different practical experiences derived from TALETE and AVATAR projects on the use of 3D virtual worlds as learning environments to facilitate the collaborative learning among students.

Received: 6 May 2015
Revised: 15 May 2015

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Cogent: a case study of meaningful gamification in education with virtual currency

This paper analyzes students’ experience with Cogent, a virtual economy system used throughout the 4 years of a B.S. degree in a Technology major. The case study explains the rules of the Cogent system and investigates its effectiveness to motivate students to learn. Using focus groups and interviews, we collected qualitative data from students about their experience and perceptions of Cogent. The results indicate that Cogent played an encouraging and motivational role for these students and suggest potential for the successful design and implementation of meaningful gamification systems to promote student motivation and engagement within an educational context. (…)

Article first published in “iJET – International Journal of Emerging Technologies in Learning”, V. 10 (2015), n. 1, as open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License 3.0 (

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Critical connections: personal learning environments and information literacy

Personal learning environments (PLEs) and critical information literacies (CILs) are two concepts that have been presented as responses to the challenges of the rich and complex information landscape. While both approaches support learners’ critical engagement with new information environments, each was developed within a different field. This paper connects and contrasts PLEs and CILs in order to explore the design of pedagogical responses to the information environment. Through a careful examination of PLE and CIL literature, the paper demonstrates that information literacy education intersects with the concepts and goals of PLEs. As such, the authors suggest that PLE scholarship informed by CIL scholarship, and vice versa, will yield a deeper understanding of modern learning contexts as well as a more holistic and responsive learner framework. (…)

Article first published in “Research in Learning Technology”, V. 23 (2015), and distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC-BY 4.0) License (

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A novel real-time video transmission approach for remote laboratory development

Remote laboratories are an inevitable necessity for Internet enabled education in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) fields due to their effectiveness, flexibility, cost savings, and the fact that they provide many benefits to students, instructors and researchers. Accordingly, real-time experiment live video streaming is an essential part of remote experimentation operation. Nevertheless, in the development of real-time experiment video transmission, it is a key and difficult issue that the video is transferred across the network firewall in most of the current remote laboratory solutions. To address the network firewall issue, we developed a complete novel solution via HTTP Live Streaming (HLS) protocol and FFMPEG that is a powerful cross-platform command line video transcode/encoding software package on the server side. In this paper, a novel, real-time video streaming transmission approach based on HLS for the remote laboratory development is presented. (…)

Article first published in “iJOE International Journal of Online Engineering”, V. 11 (2015), n. 1, as open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License 3.0 (

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Trends in distance education research: A content analysis of journals 2009-2013

This study intends to explore the current trends in the field of distance education research during the period of 2009-2013. The trends were identified by an extensive review of seven peer reviewed scholarly journals: The American Journal of Distance Education (AJDE), Distance Education (DE), The European Journal of Open, Distance and e-Learning (EURODL), The Journal of Distance Education (JDE), The Journal of Online Learning and Technology (JOLT), Open Learning: The Journal of Open, Distance and e-Learning (OL) and The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning (IRRODL). A total of 861 research articles was reviewed. (…)

Article first published in “International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning IRRODL”, V. 16 (2015), n. 1 as open access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Distribution License 4.0 (

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Learning innovation: a framework for transformation

Learning with and through technological enhancements operates in a landscape unrecognizable only a few years ago. Focusing on Higher Education, this article shows how to capture and model complex strategic processes that will move the potential of online and blended learning in universities to new stages of development. It offers the example of a four quadrant model created as a framework for an online and blended learning innovation strategy, and its successful implementation in practice.

Article first published in “Eurodl”, V. (2014), n. 2
Reprinted with permission.

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New results on νμ → ντ appearance with the OPERA experiment in the CNGS beam

The OPERA neutrino experiment is designed to perform the first observation of neutrino oscillations in direct appearance mode in the νμ → ντ channel, via the detection of the τ-leptons created in charged current ντ interactions. The detector, located in the underground Gran Sasso Laboratory, consists of an emulsion/lead target with an average mass of about 1.2 kt, complemented by electronic detectors. It is exposed to the CERN Neutrinos to Gran Sasso beam, with a baseline of 730 km and a mean energy of 17 GeV. The observation of the first ντ candidate event and the analysis of the 2008-2009 neutrino sample have been reported in previous publications. This work describes substantial improvements in the analysis and in the evaluation of the detection efficiencies and backgrounds using new simulation tools. (…)

@ The authors. Article first published in JHEP11 (2013) 036, and erratum JHEP04 (2014) 014, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC-BY 4.0),

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Waiting for the X International GUIDE Conference “Optimizing Higher Education for the Professional Student: A balance of flexibility, quality and cultural sensitivity”, to be held from the 16th to the 18th of September 2015, the new issue of Formamente presents recent articles concerning the incremental relationship between technological innovation and online education.

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