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Training competences in smart cities: an online program for higher education students

Joaquín Adiego (Department Informática (ATC, CCIA, LSI), Universidad de Valladolid, Valladolid, Spain)
Natalia Martín-Cruz (Department Organización de Empresas y Comercialización e Investigación de Mercados, Universidad de Valladolid, Valladolid, Spain)

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education

ISSN: 1467-6370

Article publication date: 22 June 2021




This paper aims to explain the development of an online training curriculum to enable students to acquire the transversal competences needed to work on smart cities projects. In this curriculum, a modern approach to the teaching-learning process was applied, suitable for the interdisciplinary and multinational learning challenges that smart cities impose, but within the framework of a university-industry European partnership.


To develop the curriculum, the competences needed for smart cities, common to all disciplines and fields, had to be researched. In addition, real smart cities projects also had to be selected for work following a project-based learning methodology. For both, this study applied the Delphi method, selecting the most relevant ones based on the data obtained by performing a multi-criteria decision analysis.


The procedure followed for the identification of transversal competences in a field, the design of an innovative online training program and the results of the first edition of the program are discussed.

Research limitations/implications

The processes that were developed, both to detect the most relevant transversal competences and to design the online training program, could be extrapolated to other areas. Moreover, it is very likely that the competences detected in this work could also be extrapolated, for the most part, to interdisciplinary teams.


To date, there is no European initiative addressing the challenges of smart cities that requires a major adjustment in higher education, in the relationship between universities and all the mechanisms of lifelong learning with the industry related to smart cities. This work is a pioneer in this regard.



This work was co-funded by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union through the “Smart Cities Advanced Learning (SCALE)” project with agreement number 2018–1-ES01-KA203-050168.

The European Commission support for the production of this publication does not constitute an endorsement of the contents which reflects the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.


Adiego, J. and Martín-Cruz, N. (2021), "Training competences in smart cities: an online program for higher education students", International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print.



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