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Dilemmas in designing e-learning experiences for professionals

Publication Type:

Conference/Workshop Paper


20th European Conference on e-Learning


The aims of this research are to enhance industry-university collaboration and to design learning experiences connecting the research front to practitioners. We present an empirical study with a qualitative approach involving teachers who gathered data from newly developed advanced level courses in artificial intelligence, energy, environmental, and systems engineering. The study is part of FutureE, an academic development project over 3 years involving 12 courses. The project, as well as this study, is part of a cross-disciplinary collaboration effort. Empirical data comes from course evaluations, course analysis, teacher workshops, and semi-structured interviews with selected students, who are also professionals.This paper will discuss course design and course implementation by presenting dilemmas and paradoxes. Flexibility is key for the completion of studies while working. Academia needs to develop new ways to offer flexible education for students from a professional context, but still fulfil high quality standards and regulations as an academic institution. Student-to-student interactions are often suggested as necessary for qualified learning, and students support this idea but will often not commit to it during courses. Other dilemmas are micro-sized learning versus vast knowledge, flexibility versus deadlines as motivating factors, and feedback hunger versus hesitation to share work. Furthermore, we present the challenges of providing equivalent online experience to practical in-person labs. On a structural level, dilemmas appear in the communication between university management and teachers. These dilemmas are often the result of a culture designed for traditional campus education. We suggest a user-oriented approach to solve these dilemmas, which involves changes in teacher roles, culture, and processes.The findings will be relevant for teachers designing and running courses aiming to attract professionals. They will also be relevant for university management, building a strategy for lifelong e-learning based on co-creation with industry.


author = {Mobyen Uddin Ahmed and Ioanna Aslanidou and Jakob Axelsson and Shahina Begum and Leo Hatvani and Anders Olsson and Sebastian Schwede and Carina Sj{\"o}din and Jan Skvaril and Valentina Zaccaria},
title = {Dilemmas in designing e-learning experiences for professionals },
month = {December},
year = {2021},
booktitle = {20th European Conference on e-Learning},
url = {}