At the initiative of the University of Bucharest, between the 7th -11th of September 2020, the event “Virtual School on Virtual Mobility” was organized by UB together with its partners from the CIVIS Alliance.
The event wasopened by Prof. Marian Preda, the Rector of the University of Bucharest, and Prof. Sorin Costreie, the Vice-Rector for University Networks and Public Relations, as hosts of the virtual school, and by Marie Wittamer, CIVIS Executive Director, and is part of a series of meetings and discussions meant to create a framework for organizing and implementing the CIVIS virtual mobility programmes.
The event gathered experts in different fields from the CIVIS trans-university area, who debated on how to implement the virtual mobility programmes starting from designed normative models and from the results of individual initiatives of the CIVIS member universities and of other universities, or from partnerships within the European area.
The key-note speaker of the event was Claudio Dondi, Senior Expert in Education and Training, which, basing on the first pilot programmes of virtual mobilities coordinated by Umberto Eco in 1995 at the University of Bologna, pointed out the importance of virtual mobilities for the internationalization process, quality assurance and efficient development strategies within the higher education institutions.
The event included four thematic workshops, each dedicated to a fundamental component of the virtual mobility programmes: European study programmes, thematic activities suited for the general research and innovation strategy, critical examination of the support technologies and of the learning environment in designing coherent teaching activity, adaptation of the course design to the teaching objectives of a study programme or training. Two other workshops brought into discussion rather transversal topics: the role of innovative pedagogies in education and multilingualism. These themes are central for the architecture of CIVIS, as part from the activities coordinated by the University of Bucharest and dedicated to ensuring teaching excellence. The experts debated on curriculum innovation testing and study programmes architecture, on how to promote the intercultural and multilingual exchange in online education, on ways to raise the attractiveness of virtual mobilities. Debates also encouraged the critical reflection upon the new roles of teachers and trainers in a world in which the new technologies offer personalized opportunities of learning pathways and support teaching innovation.
The virtual school also represented a platform for collecting direct experiences, academic and innovative teaching practices from the 8 CIVIS member universities and also for the coordination of initiatives meant to make CIVIS a model for the future European university.
The “Virtual School on Virtual Mobility” started from the premise that, given the current pandemic context, which imposed on the academic communities the need to adapt and to shift most of the activities into the online, the virtual mobilities concerns are turning into a central topic of debate for higher education institutions. In this context, the international academic community needs to give more space of debate to the ways to move accent from physical to virtual mobility and to blend the two types of mobilities in an effective formula for intercultural exchanges, anchored in an inclusive teaching innovation.
The Virtual School thematic workshops were addressed to academics, researchers and CIVIS students interested into these topics. The opening and closing sessions were addressed to all categories of public.
CIVIS, The European Civic University is an ambitious initiative meant to create a strong European alliance that reunites eight leading research higher education institutions across Europe: Aix-Marseille Université, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Universitatea din București, Université libre de Bruxelles, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Sapienza Università di Roma, Stockholm University and Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen. CIVIS brings together a community of more than 384,000 students and 55,000 staff member, from which 30,000 are academics and researchers.