CIVICA’s new internal platform is stepping stone to the European digital campus
my.civica.eu is designed to improve the e-learning experience of students and offer alliance members a common digital platform.
In September, students enrolled in the first edition of CIVICA’s flagship multicampus course “The Future of Europe” were invited to join a newly launched alliance-wide platform, my.civica.eu, to manage their course participation.
Stéphane Auzanneau, Sciences Po Chief Information & Digital Officer, introduced my.civica.eu as “a digital hub for students, faculty and staff to access the CIVICA Course Catalogue and a collaborative platform, CIVICA Social, where they can interact and exchange.”
Developed by an IT team based at Sciences Po, with inputs from all partner universities, the platform is a key step in the development of CIVICA’s digitally connected European campus. Building a digital campus has always been one of the priorities of the alliance, in line with the EU’s long-term strategy to achieve high quality, inclusive and accessible education. The move of teaching activities online at the start of the pandemic only accelerated the alliance’s work on digitalisation.
We talked to the Sciences Po team who developed my.civica.eu about the benefits of the new platform for the CIVICA communities and the process to design it.
Who is my.civica.eu for?
The platform is accessible to students, academic and non-academic staff from the eight CIVICA universities.
Access is smooth and secure: users can log in to the platform with the same credentials as for their home institution. This is thanks to eduGAIN, a European authentication service for higher education communities. We are grateful to our colleague Joachim Ekebom, IT Architect at the Stockholm School of Economics, for the idea to use eduGAIN.
Why is my.civica.eu an innovation in European higher education?
The platform allows students and faculty from different universities across Europe to organise their online learning / teaching activities and to interact in a more flexible manner.
We can see this in practice with “The Future of Europe” multicampus course launched this fall: my.civica.eu has allowed master’s students from across the alliance to follow remotely the same course, taught jointly by professors from six of our universities. Enrolled students and their professors can find all relevant information, such as the detailed syllabus, links to the different sessions and to the course platform straight on my.civica.eu. And thanks to a dedicated sphere on CIVICA Social, everyone involved in the course can post in discussion threads, access course materials and the recordings of lectures.
How can members of the CIVICA community benefit from my.civica.eu?
For students, my.civica.eu is the place where they can find all courses and academic resources offered by CIVICA (including co-taught courses and MOOCs, webinars or recorded events), but also practical information about the course they are enrolled in. Instructors on the other hand have access to all the CIVICA courses they are teaching.
In this sense, the platform provides a clear overview of all the academic activities that CIVICA makes possible. A key advantage is that CIVICA members do not have to create a new account to access my.civica.eu and can simply use their own institutional account. Additionally, all users can find the latest opportunities within the alliance, such as calls for applications or joint projects, extracurricular opportunities etc.
This makes CIVICA very concrete!
Tell us briefly about the behind-the-scenes work to develop my.civica.eu.
We have the chance to be part of a European network of academic and non-academic staff who are deeply convinced of the added value of CIVICA. The development of my.civica.eu has been possible thanks to the collective work and effort of people from a variety of departments across different universities.
In terms of process, the development of the platform has been carried out by the IT team based at Sciences Po. In parallel, one or two delegates from each institution were providing inputs via the CIVICA IT Board. The purpose of this Board is to discuss IT-related matters, present the latest developments and find solutions for implementation across the alliance.
Obviously, the creation of my.civica.eu is an ambitious project spanning more than technology and IT developments.
We worked in close collaboration with other departments. For instance, the implementation of “The Future of Europe” multicampus course was led by Bocconi University. They developed the pedagogical and organisational aspects of the course, and we designed the platform according to the needs of the course. The idea of a European project then takes on its full meaning!
Can you describe a challenge you encountered during the development of my.civica.eu and how you overcame it?
The biggest challenge so far was to have the platform ready to host the first multicampus course, a flagship initiative of CIVICA. It was important that all features were functional for the students’ first login.
The user experience is our priority, and the first impression is key. We wanted to develop the most user-friendly platform within the available time. Thanks to the great teamwork and everyone’s efforts, we managed to successfully launch my.civica.eu at the beginning of the academic year 2021/2022, in time for the multicampus course.
How will my.civica.eu expand in the future?
In the short term, new functionalities will be implemented for doctoral researchers: my.civica.eu will serve as a digital interface for PhD mentoring and supervision by faculty.
In addition, more courses such as joint courses and (post)doctoral courses will be directly accessible on my.civica.eu, and the number of additional resources (such as MOOCs, webinars etc.) shared within the network will grow.
In the medium and long term, my.civica.eu will confirm its role as a digital hub for the alliance to facilitate interactions among CIVICA communities and offer access to new digital services.
Our hope is that my.civica.eu will also become a model of best practices for higher education IT. We are currently setting up a community to exchange with IT colleagues from other European Universities, and we hope to discuss some of the lessons learned while developing my.civica.eu.
The members of the IT team based at Sciences Po who developed my.civica.eu are:
- Cédric Alexis, Sciences Po IT Officer
- Stéphane Auzanneau, Sciences Po Chief Information & Digital Officer
- Stelian Dumitrescu, Sciences Senior Po IT Manager
- Meng Han, Sciences Po IT Officer
- Clément Loret, CIVICA IT Manager
- Thierry Prieur, Sciences Po Senior IT Manager