eTourism: Communication Perspectives - USI launches its first MOOC

Servizio comunicazione istituzionale

5 Ottobre 2015

With 4000 registered students from all over the world, today the Università della Svizzera Italiana (USI) launched its first MOOC, dedicated to the world of “digital tourism” (eTourism) and its close relationship to communication sciences.

MOOC stands for Massive Open Online Course and indicates a university-level course, open to any interested participant, and freely available on the Internet. The first of such courses is offered by USI as part of the activities of its UNESCO Chair in ICT to develop and promote sustainable tourism in World Heritage Sites.

According to Lorenzo Cantoni, Full Professor at the Faculty of Communication Sciences at USI and director of the UNESCO Chair: “One of the main objectives of a MOOC is to provide university-level content to individuals who – for various reasons – cannot access it otherwise. We are pleased not only with the absolute number of participants, which is remarkable if compared to the size of our university, but also with the fact that a considerable percentage of students hail from developing and emerging countries: the first country when it comes to the number of enrolled students are the Philippines, India comes fourth, followed by Bangladesh (6th), Pakistan (8th), Nigeria (13th), Kenya and Ghana (14th and 15th). At the same time, we are pleased to welcome the many practitioners who normally would not have the time to “go to school” and who now have the opportunity to enhance their education.”

The MOOC eTourism: Communication Perspectives, produced thanks to the expertise of USI’s eLab in the field of distance learning, is held over a period of 8 weeks. Participants are given the opportunity to exchange experiences and ideas on the topic of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) and their relevance for the tourism sector – an area characterised and influenced by online booking services, by digital reputation, and by the sharing of experiences via social media.

Other universities have also adopted the course, and professional organizations such as, for example, The International Ecotourism Society have recommended it. “At USI we have been working for several years on the subject of eTourism and today we are increasingly acknowledged as a centre of research and expertise in that field”, says Professor Cantoni. “In this respect, the number of participants from Germany and Italy – respectively the second and third country per total number of students – confirms the role of our university as a cultural bridge between the north and south of Europe, a bridge that rests on our identity of ‘Mediterranean Switzerland’. Germany and Italy are followed by the United States (5th), France (7th), Switzerland (9th) and Spain (10th).”