Ahmad Fareed Al Saif image

Online Civic Engagement and Service Learning in Hybrid Realities: Implications for the Real-World and the Metaverse

Wednesday, 02 February 2022, 17:00 CET

EDEN NAP webinar



Effective civic engagement relies on citizens to understand the society around them, question it, and come together to change it where necessary. As the pandemic has recently demonstrated, a large part of societal functions can take place online, and as such, so can civic engagement!

Consequently, educators are faced with the task of supporting students learn how to exercise their civic responsibilities online, and which tools and resources are available for this purpose. Arguably, as people move further away from the real world, they are less sensitive to the problems that arise there. Since even our future social interactions are starting to be defined in terms of such “metaverses”, it is vital that an equilibrium be achieved between online and real-world contexts and responsibilities. What role should educators have in this process?

A possible way to maintain this equilibrium for future generations, and meld the online and real-world, may come from insights gained from service learning. It offers a way to facilitate student experience and understanding of key social issues in their community by using gradual placements in real environments. Therefore, the more students move online, the more they will be grounded in the real-world.

In this webinar, different aspects of these issues will be discussed and some reflections provided on how students can be prepared to act as responsible citizens in future hybrid realities. As part of this narrative, results of different initiatives and research projects will be presented.

Type of session: presentations with discussion


Timothy Read
EDEN Vice-president for Open Professional Collaboration,
Senior Lecturer, Department of Computer Languages and Systems, UNED. Spain

Timothy Read is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Computer Languages and Systems at UNED. He is the co-founder of the ATLAS research group and has directed several national and international funded projects on applying Information and Communication Technologies to Languages for Specific Purposes. He is currently working in the areas of Mobile-Assisted Language Learning and Language Massive Open Online Courses, and their applications for social inclusion and employability, and the role of analytics in these areas. He has also been a member of diverse scientific committees and has collaborated as an evaluator of national and international research project proposals. As well as his academic career, he has worked in different international companies including Rolls Royce (the work he undertook there was subsequently patented), Hewlett Packard, and the telecommunications company I.T.T. He is an EDEN Senior Fellow and is currently vice-president of the association.


Cristina Stefanelli
Project Manager, UNIMED – Mediterranean Universities Union, Italy

Cristina has a background in Architecture and Urban Planning and she has worked for several years at the Multimedia Research Lab at the University Iuav of Venice. From 2000 onwards, she became increasingly involved in national and international projects in the field of technology-enhanced learning, teaching and learning technologies, and virtual mobility. She has designed and led a number of training initiatives and she has significant experience in the monitoring and evaluation of EU-funded projects, including technical and financial reporting.

Ana Skledar Matijević
Higher Education Project Manager, Institute for the Development of Education, Croatia

Ana Skledar Matijević, Ph.D. is a former professor at a Croatian HEI with 20 years of teaching experience. She is also a textbook author and has rich experience in HEI management and policy implementation as she has served as Interim Dean and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs in several terms of office. She is also a certified e-Learning Course Designer.
She has been with the Institute for the Development of Education since 2019 and has used her higher education and big project management experience, as well as policy development expertise in her work on IDE’s projects focusing on the social dimension, community engagement of higher education and service learning implementation. She has authored and co-authored several reports and articles on these topics.

Berta Paz Lourido
Associate Professor of Physiotherapy, University of the Balearic Islands (UIB).

PhD in Education with European Mention, Master in Development Cooperation, Master in Bioethics and Humanization of Assistance. Vice-president of the Spanish Association of University Service-Learning, member of the European Association of Service-Learning in Higher Education (EASHLE) and Deputy Director of the European Observatory of Service-Learning in Higher Education (EOSHLE). She has developed several S-L projects in the last years and she is also responsible for the implementation of Service-Learning at UIB through the APSUIB program. She is the coordinator of the ApS Illes Balears group, a member of the Spanish Network of Service-Learning (REDAPS). Head of the ECYCS research group (Education, Communication and Quality in Health). Member of the research group “Childhood, Technology, Education and Diversity” (GITED), at the Institute for Research and Innovation in Education (UIB). She has recently been the co-editor of the Special Issue (n.78, 2021) “Service-Learning in digital technology environments” at EDUTEC (Revista electrónica de tecnología educativa).

Alvaro Ribeiro
European Observatory of Service-Learning in Higher Education (EOSHLE) researcher, EASHLE- ApS(U).

Alvaro has experience in teaching, researching, and producing in the field of organisational studies. His theoretical and/or empirical work aims at the advancement of knowledge about educational organisations, organising, and the informal contexts in which such organisations operate. Under cooperation protocols between universities and Portuguese and EU youth work agencies, he has been actively participating in research tasks and representing the Portuguese team in international partner meetings, especially in terms of multi-metaphoric research projects. He has been focused in research-based analysis and monitoring (of the European Solidarity Corps), approaches to participation and citizenship education and learning, competence development and capacity building, strategies and practises for organisational development, and learning of organisations and networks in the European youth sector.

Marcelle Reneman
Assistant professor of migration law at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.

At the Law Faculty, she has set up several legal clinics, courses in which students learn by doing and (often) engage in community service learning. In 2019, she received a teaching grant to initiate a Street Law program at the Law Faculty. In Street Law second and third-year bachelor students teach interactive workshops to high school pupils. The workshops concern current legal issues, which are directly relevant to the lives of these pupils. Topics include cyber bullying, ethnic profiling, the prohibition on fireworks or labour law.