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  • Athens, Greece



ITS2024 Workshop 2: BACK2BASICS Program


Monday, June 10th, 14:00 to 18:00 – Session 2: The “Back2Basics” Workshop on
Digital Transformation in Higher Education: Empowering Teachers and Students for

Tomorrow’s Challenge

The workshop will be held in HYBRID mode

Onsite participants are invited to join us at the University of Macedonia, Egnatia
156, Thessaloniki, 546 36, 1st floor, Building C, “Kouskouvelis Conference Hall.”

ATTENTION: **Workshops are free **Participants are not required to pay any fees, but registration is required for all participants. 

A certificate of participation in the Back2Basics Workshop will be sent via email after the end of the ITS2024 Conference to ALL REGISTERED PARTICIPANTS.





Maria Perifanou, SMILE Lab, University of Macedonia, Greece



Anastasios A. Economides, SMILE Lab, University of Macedonia, Greece


“Enhancing Digital Competencies in Higher Education: The Back2Basics Project”

Anastasios A. Economides, SMILE Lab, University of Macedonia, Greece


ABSTRACT. The “Back2Basics” project aims to drive digital transformation in higher education (HE) systems and align them more closely with labor market needs. As an Erasmus+ initiative, “Back2Basics” seeks to create a modern, responsive educational environment by enhancing digital skills among HE teachers and students. This talk will briefly present the main aims and outcomes of the “Back2Basics” project. Specifically, the project focuses on developing HE learning systems that integrate digital tasks and tools, empowering teachers with digital pedagogical skills, and training students in valuable digital competencies, including online security, data protection, and artificial intelligence (AI) skills. Key outcomes include digital skills training materials for teachers, a guide on online communication and etiquette, a multimedia training package for students, a handbook on online security, and a pilot program demonstrating digitally-reinforced learning contexts. “Back2Basics” comprehensive approach aims to equip graduates with the skills required in today’s digital workforce, ensuring HE institutions remain relevant and effective in a rapidly evolving landscape.


“Digital Contents to Improve Digital Skills Valued by the Labour Market”– the Back2Basics project approach”

Rita Santos, University of Aveiro, Portugal


ABSTRACT. This presentation will address a set of efficient, multidisciplinary, and hands-on content & resources developed in the Back2Basics project – Bridging the gap between higher education and the labor market by fostering digital skills. These content & resources were designed taking under consideration the DigComp framework 2.2, focus groups’ results with recent graduates and employers, and the feedback collected during two training courses offered to Higher Education teachers and students. These resources aim to provide helpful information and practical guidance for anyone wishing to learn more about improving digital competence in topics ranging from information and data literacy, online communication and netiquette, content creation, protecting health and well-being, online security, and data protection.


“Bridging the Gap: Enhancing Employability Through the Back2Basics Project”

Sofia Jervis, BioLiving, Portugal


ABSTRACT. The “Back2Basics” project aims to bridge the gap between higher education and the job market and it provides essential resources for both students and teachers, ensuring that university education is aligned with industry requirements. As an NGO, our entity works daily with university students who see BioLiving not just as an opportunity to help a cause they believe in, but maybe most importantly as a place where they can develop skills for their future professional lives. On the other hand, our entity also offers employment opportunities to newly-graduates and we are in constant need of finding people with a certain employability profile. Through Back2Basics, we have enhanced our capacity to equip young people with crucial professional skills and mentor them on how to better develop their employability profiles. The project has also been an invaluable learning experience for us as employers, enabling us to better understand and meet the evolving needs of the job market. This presentation will explore the multifaceted benefits of Back2Basics, emphasizing its impact on our organization and the young professionals we support.


“Transforming Higher Education with Digital Innovation: Insights from the Back2Basics Pilots”

Maria Perifanou, SMILE Lab of the University of Macedonia, Greece


ABSTRACT. The “Back2Basics” project has successfully piloted innovative approaches in higher education institutions in Greece and Portugal to build students’ basic digital skills demanded by the labor market within an academic context. The pilots aimed to implement digitally-based teaching techniques, tools, and resources, transforming traditional lesson plans into digitally-adapted class scripts. This initiative allowed higher education (HE) teachers to move from a theoretical teaching approach to practical application, fostering a hands-on, digitally enhanced learning environment. Conducted during the 2023-2024 academic year by the University of Macedonia (UoM) and the University of Aveiro (UA), the pilot testing evaluated the reactions of HE students to these digitally-enhanced classes, focusing on developing their labor market-relevant competencies while simultaneously challenging and upgrading HE teachers’ digital skills. The outcomes include case studies, best open educational practices (OEP), successful approaches, student feedback, and recommendations for future replications of the proposed OEP by other HE teachers. This presentation will provide insights into the methodologies, adaptations, and overall effectiveness of the “Back2Basics” pilots in promoting essential digital skills in higher education.


“University students using ChatGPT in project-based learning”

Anastasios A. Economides and Maria Perifanou (SMILE Lab, University of Macedonia, Greece)


ABSTRACT. Recently, ChatGPT has emerged as a disruptive technology that can also transform education. In a university course on e-commerce that is based on project-based learning, students were challenged to use ChatGPT to implement their personal projects. About half of the students chose to ask ChatGPT for help in constructing their questionnaire for their personal online market research survey. Only a few of them asked ChatGPT for a sequence of multiple revised prompts. These students achieved excellent grades in their projects. Students who used ChatGPT believed that it was easy to use, useful, and helpful assistance. However, they would like extra training on how to efficiently use ChatGPT and other GenAI tools. This learning approach was introduced to the Greek university students in the context of the “Back2Basics” pilot courses.




“Smart Assessment and Guided Education with Responsible AI”

Alexander Mikroyannidis, John Domingue, Aisling Third (The Open University, UK), David Tarrant, and Tom Pieroni (Open Data Institute, UK)


ABSTRACT. This paper presents the vision of the SAGE-RAI (Smart Assessment and Guided Education with Responsible AI) project. Inspired by Bloom’s seminal work on the efficacy of personalised learning, the SAGE-RAI project aims to leverage responsible Generative AI towards transforming teaching and learning practices for improved student outcomes. By exploring the integration of Generative AI into tutoring processes, we seek to provide scalable, personalised learning experiences for large cohorts of students. Our research focuses on harnessing Generative AI to offer tailored educational content and generate constructive feedback for students. By applying responsible AI practices, we aim to mitigate issues such as misinformation, copyright infringement, and bias.


“Enhanced Retention of Historical Information with Empathetic Pedagogical Conversational Agents (PCAs)”

Ioannis Doumanis (University of Central Lancashire, UK) and Daphne Economou (University of Westminster, UK)


ABSTRACT. Embodied learning using extended reality (XR) technology can enhance learning and satisfaction during field trips to historical sites. This study evaluates the impact of Pedagogical Conversational Agents (PCAs) on historical information retention in a simulated XR environment. PCAs employ verbal and nonverbal behaviors to attract attention, with variations in humorous versus serious tones. These behaviors can evoke emotions that motivate learning and influence cognitive processes. The study used facial expressions and eye tracking to measure the impact, comparing attention-grabbing PCAs (AG-PCA) with non-attention-grabbing PCAs (NAG-PCA). Results showed that AG-PCAs triggered curiosity and positive emotions but also some dislike, leading to better retention of historical information among NAG-PCAs, particularly among female participants. The study concludes with recommendations for designing PCAs and multimodal content to enhance historical information retention and learner satisfaction.


“Feedback Focus: A Tool for Evaluating and Reflecting on Instructor to Student Feedback”

Derek Maki and Sabine Graf, Athabasca University, Canada


ABSTRACT. A considerable challenge in education is the ability of an instructor to provide constructive written feedback, which can influence both student engagement and their learning progression. Currently, instructors write feedback to their students following the submission of an assessment, but the written feedback is never analyzed to provide guidance to the instructor about the way in which they write feedback. Addressing this issue is crucial for enhancing educational outcomes and fostering a more constructive and supportive learning environment. This paper proposes an intelligent software tool called Feedback Focus (FeeFo) which aims at making instructors aware of their feedback practices and therefore, allowing them to improve how they deliver feedback. Writing effective and helpful feedback to students is an important aspect of education, but collecting and analyzing the words an instructor has written can be a difficult task without the help of a specialized tool. By offering dashboards that track feedback trends across courses, assessments, and individual students, FeeFo aids educators in reflecting on their feedback practices and identifying areas for enhancement. This analysis is vital, as feedback style significantly impacts student learning and engagement. Offering powerful insights, FeeFo enables instructors to refine their approach, fostering a more constructive and supportive learning environment. Furthermore, FeeFo provides features to collect, visualize, and track feedback effectiveness, empowering instructors to make informed decisions about their teaching methods. The ultimate goal of FeeFo is to strengthen the instructor-student interaction by providing analysis of feedback, thereby positively influencing overall educational experiences.


“Interactive storytelling experience for sensitizing on gender equality: an exploratory study”

Forouzan Farzinnejad (CYENS) and Antigoni Parmaxi (Cyprus University of Technology, Cyprus)


ABSTRACT. Gender equality is not only a fundamental human right, but a necessary foundation for a peaceful, prosperous, and sustainable world. Efforts to increase women’s participation in computer science, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) may benefit from changing masculine cultures and providing students with early experiences that signal equally to both girls and boys that they belong and can succeed in these fields. Tackling gender inequality is an intricate and lengthy process, but digital technology can help fast-track progress. This study presents an interactive storytelling experience composed of short interactive stories that narrate real-life problems that women encounter in their workplace. 22 female and 23 male students’ students were invited to test the interactive storytelling and evaluate their experience. Our results show the potential of interactive storytelling for incorporating gender-sensitive aspects into the curriculum and discuss implications for both research and practice.


“Building a Sustainable Learning Ecosystem: A Systematic Review of Teaching Methods in Clean Energy Transition”

Eirini Christou (Cyprus University of Technology, Cyprus), Antigoni Parmaxi (Cyprus University of Technology, Cyprus), Georgios T Andreou (Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece), and Anastasia Stefanidi (Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece)


ABSTRACT. The shift to the Clean Energy Transition (CET) in parallel with the rapid development of technology, has led to significant changes in higher education (HE), prompting a paradigm shift in teaching and learning approaches. As traditional educational approaches evolve to meet the demands of the digital age and the CET, higher education institutions must embrace innovation and adaptability. This study investigates the everyday lived experiences and practices of Higher Education instructors and students in CET studies to shed light on the essential skills required for the CET sector. The research questions focus on instructional design practices, the daily experiences of instructors and students in CET studies, the necessary skills for the CET, and the challenges and opportunities faced by instructors and students in CET. Through a systematic approach, 22 relevant papers were selected from a pool of 322 articles retrieved from various databases. The findings offer insights into the complexity of CET education, shedding light on effective instructional design practices, the experiences of students and instructors, essential skills for successful CET implementation, and the landscape of challenges and opportunities in CET for both instructors and students.