PhD program in Learning sciences and digital technologies (National PhD)

XXXIX cycle - a.y. 2023/2024

Duration 3 years
Position 45 position available - 41 scholarships
Director/Coordinator Prof. Pier Cesare Rivoltella (Università Cattolica)
Contact person Prof. Tommaso Minerva
PhD website »
Admission Expiration date 07/09/2023 at 13:00
Call for admission
Final ranking Published 05/10/2023
Enrollment deadline 13/10/2023 at 13:00:00

Scientific areas

ING-INF/05 (Information processing systems) and all academic disciplines encompassed within the following areas:
Area 01 - Mathematics and informatics
Area 02 - Physics
Area 10 - Antiquities, philology, literary studies, art history
Area 11 - History, philosophy, pedagogy and psychology
Area 12 - Law
Area 13 - Economics and statistics
Area 14 - Political and social sciences

Admission requirements

Applicants must be in possession of either an Italian higher level degree (laurea specialistica under D.M. 509/99 or laurea magistrale under D.M. 270/04), or an Italian degree obtained prior to D.M. 509/99, or an equivalent qualification obtained abroad.
More information available in the call for admission.


Course description

The PhD program in Learning Sciences and Digital Technologies is designed to investigate the relationships between technologies and social and material contexts in educational processes. One of the distinctive features of this program lies in its interdisciplinary nature, incorporating contributions from both hard and human sciences.

The central focus of the training and research activities is the theme of emerging and innovative technologies and their impact on teaching and learning processes for the development of methodological approaches and of original solutions and tools. PhD students will acquire knowledge of the pedagogical and neuroscientific fundamentals of learning, teaching theories, and digital design to develop new technologies, analyze educational big data, and design teaching and assessment methods and tools. The program initiatives will also address legal issues related to data management and privacy protection, the training of individuals with disabilities and special educational needs in formal, informal, or non-formal contexts, educational and rehabilitative strategies for socially vulnerable or disadvantaged groups.

Students will develop specialized knowledge by participating in relevant research projects involving academic and industrial/professional communities.


"Aldo Moro" University of BARI
University of BERGAMO
Alma Mater Studiorum - University of BOLOGNA
Free University of BOZEN-BOLZANO
University of CAMERINO
University of EASTERN PIEDMONT "Amedeo Avogadro"
University of FERRARA
University of FLORENCE
University of FOGGIA
University of GENOA
MARCHE Polytechnic University
University of MILAN
"Federico II" University of NAPLES
"Suor Orsola Benincasa" University of NAPLES
University of PADUA
University of PALERMO
University of PARMA
University of PERUGIA
University for Foreigners of PERUGIA
University of PISA
"Sapienza" University of ROME
Tor Vergata University of ROME
University of SALERNO
University of TRENTO
University of TURIN
University of UDINE
University of VERONA
LUISS - Guido Carli Free International University for Social Studies
LUMSA - Libera Università “Maria Santissima Assunta”
INDIRE - National Institute for Documentation, Innovation and Educational Research
Institute for Educational Technology (CNR-ITD)
Salesian Institute of Venice (IUSVE)

Topics and curricula

The PhD is structured into three curricula: e-Teaching & e-Learning, ETEL; Technology Enhanced Learning & Advanced Technologies for Education, TEL-ATE; New Literacies & Digital Citizenship, NELIT. The curricula, while maintaining the interdisciplinary nature of the program, focus on different areas of study and research, in brief: teaching and learning processes; technological innovations; digital citizenship and skills.

The e-Teaching & e-Learning (ETEL) curriculum focuses on neuroscientific issues related to learning (learning brain) and the instructional work of teachers (teacher brain). It deals with the instructional design and planning of teaching and learning activities using mixed models that combine real-world and digital contexts (phygital solutions). The curriculum covers assessment and certification of learning in hybrid, blended, and online teaching settings. It also explores digital learning environments and social networking systems for formal and informal learning, with a specific emphasis on e-tutoring and e-moderation strategies. Additionally, it addresses faculty development and digital schooling.

The Technology Enhanced Learning & Advanced Technologies for Education (TEL-ATE) curriculum concerns technologies and strategies for subject-specific didactics and training, including in multilingual and intercultural contexts. It focuses on implementing effective multimedia tools and content in teaching activities, for digital skill acquisition, and for creating accessible and inclusive learning pathways. The curriculum explores gaming environments and tools for achieving specific educational goals and their applications in rehabilitation and physical well-being. It also covers knowledge management, indexing, and sharing, such as web ontologies and open education. Furthermore, it delves into the applications and ethical and social implications of algorithms and artificial intelligence systems (machine learning, deep learning, and reinforcement learning) in educational areas, with a focus on big data.

The New Literacies & Digital Citizenship (NELIT) curriculum explores the concept of literacy and its evolution, focusing on visual languages, digital media and technologies, data, information, and AI technologies (visual literacy, digital literacy, information literacy, data literacy, and AI literacy). The curriculum addresses socially interactive robotics and examines its ethical, psychological, and educational implications in situations of disadvantage and disability. It explores the personalization and development of tutoring and assessment systems through hardware, software, and artificial intelligence systems. The curriculum also covers the generation, management, and use of big data in the educational domain, considering digital citizenship and e-democracy. It addresses protecting personal data, particularly in the education domain and for individuals of school age. Additionally, it explores digital discrimination in access to digital tools and the Internet. Lastly, it covers the management of virtual communities based on sharing knowledge and skills, experiences, ideologies, and goals.

Educational objectives

The goal of the PhD program in Learning Sciences and Digital Technologies is to train scholars and professionals capable of comprehending and analyzing current educational and training scenarios in relation to the integration of technologies. The program aims to equip students with the skills to design innovative and inclusive methodological and digital solutions, taking an interdisciplinary approach and collaborating with other experts. Consequently, the doctoral program seeks to foster a professional identity in the field of learning sciences that encompasses ethical and technological aspects and contributes to research and its practical applications across various domains, including education, business, and society.

Specifically, at the end of their training, the students will be able to:
- describe, understand, and analyze theories pertaining to learning and cognition;
- develop, implement, monitor, and evaluate meaningful learning experiences in formal, informal, and non-formal contexts;
- design, implement and develop technology solutions and online learning environments to promote meaningful learning;
- design and implement rigorous research in the learning sciences by applying quantitative, qualitative, and mixed research methods and using specific software to analyze data and texts;
- analyze research and participate in academic debate through discussions, paper presentations, article production and reviews;
- apply acquired research skills and soft skills (problem solving, leadership, flexibility, effective communication, team working) in universities, institutions, enterprises, and social and healthcare companies.

Career Opportunities

The PhD course intends to enhance the development of interdisciplinary knowledge (pedagogical, psychological, statistical, information technology, technological, engineering, legal, philosophical, and social) and skills of analysis, research, design, and technical application that enable doctoral students to access various specialized employment opportunities in the fields of education, technology, or the intersection between the two, such as Digital Education, Technology Enhanced Learning, and Artificial Intelligence in Education. In particular, the latter context, which draws on knowledge and perspectives from multiple fields of inquiry, represents the most desirable area of employment due to the application of innovative solutions, design experience, and research skills acquired during the course.

The main professional outlets include:
- research in education, training, and technology in public and private entities;
- product development in educational companies, creative industry, and edutainment;
- instructional design in industrial, public, and private companies; - research on technology development in social and healthcare settings in public and/or private entities;
- training in schools, universities, and corporate environments on educational innovation, education technology, open education, digital skills and citizenship, media and information ethics;
- preparation of funding proposals for calls on research, advancement, and digital and technological innovation.


Three years (01/11/2023 - 31/10/2026)


The administrative headquarters of the course is in Reggio Emilia.
Cross-curriculum training activities on research methodology, academic communication, entrepreneurship, and funding call will be carried out in a mixed mode and according to a plan shared by the partners.
PhD students will be assigned for research and training activities to other locations according to the call for applications.


» Call for admission and changes

» Selection committees

» Final ranking

Based on a rigorous selection process, applications are processed normally once a year. The admissions will be open in June or July 2023 (please refer to the Call).

More documentation

How to apply for the PhD Programmes (pdf)

How to apply for the Italian National PhD Program in Religious Studies (pdf)

» Guide for admission application to Ph.D. programmes

Please complete the application form and submit it electronically following the application guide. A non-returnable administrative fee of 25 € will be charged. The decision on admission as well as on financial support is published on the web.

FAQ Frequently asked question

PhD Certificates and Self-certifications

PhD original diploma (Parchment)

Contact office

For further information please contact:
PhD Office
via Università, 4 - 41121 Modena
» Opening hours (italian only)