• Aalborg Harbour Front

  • CREATE Building

  • Utzon Center

  • Old Town

  • SLERD 2017

  • Keynote at SLERD 2017

  • Aalborg by Night

  • Student Contest 2017

Copyright 2018 - Custom text here

2018 International Student Design Contest


Call for ideas and proofs of concept

The call invites students to submit ideas (first phase of the contest) and proofs of concept/prototype (second phase of the contest) on how to make learning ecosystems smarter. It is open to individuals and groups of students (bachelor, master and PhD students). The winner (individual or group) will be awarded with 500 €. Three individuals or groups (finalists) will be selected to present their proofs of concept at SLERD 2018 and attend the conference for free. ASLERD will cover also stay expenses (hotel and meals) for two representatives per finalist.


Largely extracted from the Timisoara declaration

Learning ecosystems have the potential to play a central role in helping disparate members of a community to become active citizens. Engagement, cohesion, well-being and the development of a community, in other words its “smartness”, depends largely on the “smartness” of the learning ecosystems. In recent years, many rankings of learning ecosystems were produced either at global or at national level, in order to “support” students choices, however students’ and other players’ opinions have been scarcely taken into account in the elaboration of such rankings.

Smart Learning Ecosystems should perform at best on all the dimensions that contribute to the  well-being of students and all players involved in the development of a learning process: infrastructures, food, environment, info/admin services, mobility, safety, social interaction, satisfaction, challenges, self-fulfillment [1]. Being inspired by the flow theory [2] and by the Maslow’s pyramid [3], we can state that: ecosystems are smart when “individuals that take part in the local processes achieve a high level of skills and, at the same time, are also strongly motivated and engaged by continuous and adequate challenges, provided that their primary needs are reasonably satisfied”.

The smartness of learning ecosystems, thus, is not created merely through the availability of digital infrastructures and applications. When technologies are both available and adopted enthusiastically, they can start to make a difference in both simplifying and accelerating progress toward the achievement of system smartness. One has to keep in mind, however, that technologies are smart not because they are capable of replacing human reasoning but, rather because they can help towards achieving a people centered smartness, through streamlining mundane organisational tasks, and enhancing the skills of all actors involved in learning processes.

Our duty, with the help of technology, is to support learning ecosystems (formal, informal, non-formal) to develop their people centered smartness towards becoming incubators of social innovation and engines of sustainable regional development. Smartness is a goal and we can support our learning ecosystems along the process to achieve it by proposing solutions capable to solve or mitigate problems that prevent the learning ecosystems to be people centered. Examples of problems detection can be found in the draft of [4].

We expect students, wishing to take part in the contest, to analyze their learning ecosystem, detect problems and find solutions that can help their, and as well other learning ecosystems, to get smarter.   


[1] Carlo Giovannella, Diana Andone, Mihai Dascalu, Elvira Popescu, Matthias Rehm, Giuseppe Roccasalva. “Smartness of Learning Ecosystems and its bottom-up emergence in six European Campuses”, IxD&A Journal, N. 27, 2015, pp. 79-92

[2] Maslow A. H., A theory of human motivation, Psychological Review 50 (4), 1943, pp. 370–396.

[3] Czisikszentmihalyi M., Flow - The Psychology of Optimal Experience, 1990, Harper & Row

[4] D. Galego, C. Giovannella, O. Mealha, “An investigation of actors’ differences in the perception of learning ecosystems’ smartness: the case of the Aveiro University”, IxD&A Journal, N. 31, 2016,



At the end of the second phase, the jury will select the 3 best proofs of concept/prototypes. Two students, as representatives of each design group that have developed the selected proofs of concept/prototypes, will have the opportunity to attend SLERD 2017 for freeand will be invited to give a short presentation. The organization will cover stay expenses (hotel and meals, no travels). On the basis of the presentations and prototype demonstrations the jury will announce the winner of the contest, that will be awarded by ASLERD with 500 €. ASLERD will promote dissemination of the 3 best proofs of concept/prototypes on its website, on the social media and through its mailing-list.

The jury reserves itself the possibility to propose the proofs of concept/prototypes submitted on the 25th of May 2017 for the publication in a special section of IxD&A devoted to SLERD 2017 contest.



Submission of the abstract of the ideas: 15 February 2018

Selection of the best ideas (max 10): 15 March 2018

Submission of final proofs of concept and prototypes: 30 March 2018

Selection of the best 3 proofs of concepts and prototypes: 15 April 2018

Presentation and demo at SLERD 2017 and winner announcement: 23 or 24 May 2018


Participation is open to all University students: bachelor, master and PhD. proposals can be submitted by individuals or groups. Groups cannot exceed 5 members. In any case only 2 members of the groups that have presented the best proofs of concepts/prototypes will be invited, as representatives of the group to attend SLERD conference.

Students interested in participating in the contest have to submit an abstract describing clearly the problem that they intend to face and the solution they propose to improve the level of smartness of the learning ecosystem taken in consideration (school, campus, working places, informal and not formal learning environments). Abstracts should be no longer than three A4 pages, sketches and figures included.

The jury will select, at most, the best 10 ideas that will be admitted to the second phase of the contest. 

Abstracts will be selected on the basis of: the clearness of the problem setting, the innovativeness of the proposed solution, the impact that the idea is likely to produce on the smartness of the learning ecosystem, the people centered perspective, the viability of the prototype, the organization and readability of the description.

The selected individuals/groups should present, within 30 March 2017 a proof of concept  (prototype) realized by means of the most appropriate technology. The prototype should be described by a video no longer than 3 minutes and by a document describing the details of the technical solutions and, overall the “people’s centered perspective” (no longer than 8 pages in the IxD&A format: see authors’ guidelines).

The jury will select the best 3 proofs of concept for presentation at SLERD 2018 and reserves the possibility to propose them for the publication in a special section of IxD&A devoted to the contest.



Benedetto Todaro (President), Quasar University of Rome, Italy

Diana Andone, Polytechnical University of Timisoara, Romania

Giordano Bruno, ISIA Roma e Pescara, Italy

Carlo Giovannella, University of Rome Tor Vergata, Ital

Viktoria Pammer-Schindler, Know-Center, Austria

Matthias Rehm, Aalborg University, Denmark

Giuseppe Roccasalva, Politecnico di Torino, Italy

Jelle Saldien, Ghent University, Belgium

Ana Veloso, University of Aveiro, Portugal



For information and any questions on the contest ASLERD can be contacted by email at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  

mentoring service will be also available along the whole duration of the process to support students participation to the contest.