Smart Learning Ecosystems as Engines of Twin Transitions

Guest Editors

•  Mihai Dascalu, University Politehnica of Bucharest
•  Óscar Mealha, University of Aveiro, Portugal
•  Sirje Virkus, Tallinn University, Estonia

Important dates

  • Deadline: October 15th, 2023 – November 30th, 2023 (new hard deadline)
  • Notification to the authors: January 15th, 2024
  • Camera ready paper: February 15th, 2024
  • Publication of the special issue: March 2024 (tentatively)


The development of Smart Learning Ecosystems is of strategic relevance for all the territorial ambits on which they insist, either because they can act as a bulwark against degradation in the most critical areas, or because they can contribute to increasing the well-being of students and their communities of reference; moreover, they can also act as a driver for sustainable development of the territories.
The achievement of an adequate level of smartness in the learning ecosystems is, however, a process that needs a long-term vision, multidisciplinary competencies, an attitude to understand people and contexts and to mediate points of view, a dynamic approach to resilience to keep on track and achieve, step-by-step, the foreseen goals: in short, an attitude to design and implement sustainable projects and processes aimed at achieving a people-centered smart environments and education.
Climate change, pandemics, wars (more or less uncovered), and the energy and food crises triggered by them, all point towards the need to change our lifestyles and make them fully sustainable. The SDGs [1] and the cultural and technological transitions they foster – such as the green transition – therefore become new challenges with which smart learning ecosystems and communities must measure themselves to support the education of competent and responsible future citizens.
Citizens whose future behaviour implies the entrenchment of a sense of membership [2] and the development of meta-design competencies [3]-, i.e., the competence of knowing how to explore and manage, the ambiguity and uncertainty that changes will bring.
Within such an evolving scenario, we also have to face the amplifying power of digital technologies, which – as discussed in the UNESCO document “The futures of education for participation in 2050” [4] – could contribute, through educational processes, to the development of a fairer and more equitable society and, at the same time, to more careful use of resources; but, on the other hand, if not adequately utilized, they could also lead to deepening the existing gaps. Thus, we have to face a parallel digital transition that raises many questions about its impact on humans and the environment, including its energy sustainability. The digital transition – which complements the other cultural transitions induced by SDGs (giving rise to multiple twin transitions) – thus, left us with complex questions about when, how, and why to use digital technologies in and for learning, that can be approached through multiple perspectives and angles. How can they contribute sustainably, to transform education, support cultural transitions, reduce inequalities, and at the same time, empower individuals according to their needs, expectations, and talents?

2. Haste H., Chopra V., “The futures of education for participation in 2050: educating for managing uncertainly and ambiguity”, 2020,
3. Giovannella C.  “Is complexity tameable? Toward a design for the experience in a complex world” IxD&A Journal, N. 15, 2012, pp. 18-30,
4. Futures of Education. A new Social Contract for Education.

Topics of Interest

General topics of interest acting as background and frame for the twin transitions can be grouped under three big themes: places for smart education, people in place- centered design for smart education, supportive learning technologies and tools for smart education. All can be related to studies that develop on a post-pandemic view and strategy for a better learning world, namely nurtured by the pertinence of smart learning ecosystems as engines of the twin transitions, like the green and digital one.

Places for smart education

  • future of institutional learning
  • interplay between formal and informal learning
  • new educational models and settings
  • continuity-discontinuity of time, technology, place/space in the learning process 
  • role of games and gamification case studies in smart education
  • dual education and other alternate scheme approaches
  • monitoring and benchmarking of smartness (individual, institution, city, region)

People in place- centered design for smart education

  • general frameworks and methodological advancement
  • competence based learning, evaluation and certification
  • design, data and other relevant literacies
  • literacies, skills and competences of future citizens
  • communities and co-design in smart learning ecosystems
    sharing & participatory practices
  • open access to any resources and disparity
  • cultural influences

Supportive technologies and tools for smart education

  • AI for smart learning ecosystems: Ethical aspects, tools and H-AI interaction
  • knowledge graphsx and applications
  • text/opinion mining and sentiment analysis
  • intelligent tutoring systems
  • real/virtual communities and social network analysis
  • interoperability and application of open/smart data and services
  • safety & security in education
  • IoT, ubiquitous and wearable technologies
  • adaptability to educational contexts and citizens
  • role of VR in education

Submission procedure 

All submissions must be original and may not be under review by another publication.
The manuscripts should be submitted anonymized either in .doc or in .pdf format.
All papers will be blindly peer-reviewed by at least two reviewers. Prospective participants are invited to submit a 8-30 pages paper (including authors’ information, abstract, all tables, figures, references, etc.).
The paper should be written according to the IxD&A authors’ guidelines .
Submission page -> link
(when submitting the paper please choose the section: ‘SI: Smart Learning Ecosystems as Engines of Twins Transitions’)

For scientific advices and for any query please contact the guest-editor:

• mihai [dot] dascalu [at] upb [dot] ro
• oem [at] ua [dot] pt
• Sirje [dot] Virkus [at] tlu [dot] ee

marking the subject as: IxD&A special issue on ‘Smart Learning Ecosystems as Engines of Twins Transitions’.