Notes from the General States of the Digital School 2021
Curated by Dianora Bardi and Roberto Maragliano
The President of the session: PIERANGELO SOLDAVINI Journalist Il Sole 24 Ore
STEFANO GHIDINI Head of C2 Group education projects
MASSIMILIANO ROSSI Vice President EMEA PBU | Product Store Unit – Acer
MASSIMO PIZZOCRI Chief Executive Officer for Epson Italy and European Vice President for the Video Projectors Division
Supporting school development is a problem that even industries today place themselves in the awareness that technology alone can not improve students’ learning, but that it is necessary to first aim for a different teaching approach: a necessary condition so that children learn to face the questions of the future and acquire the skills to be competitive in an increasingly interconnected and globalized world, different from the past. The digital potential is huge and constantly evolving, with them children can always access new knowledge, verify their preparation, be motivated to review personal achievements during verification, use games or virtual reality to elaborate on topics: but it always remains a tools and as such must be used in the right way.
Platforms are certainly enabling tools, but it is necessary for those who have to make new choices and new investments that two basic elements are taken into account: connection and sharing. These are two strategic aspects that are necessary to allow in a simple and flexible way not only the interaction between subjects located in remote places, but also the creation of working groups within the same space.
The connection to the internet, the use of software and apps, the ability to quickly switch from digital to analog in the use of whiteboards, fast transfer of multimedia artifacts, are all very important elements and it would be very interesting if all this happened in a single entity, in total convergence. This is now possible: Platforms that were once reserved for small groups of users are now within everyone’s reach, but when purchasing these resources and the machines that support them, obsolescence of equipment must always be taken into account, which due to ongoing updates are not always able to keep up with changes.
Simplicity and flexibility, therefore. But a serious problem that the school needs to know how to deal with is whether, in the face of such large investments that will come with PNRR (we are talking about over 2 billion euros), it will be able to develop a project, there at the structural level really provides a convincing guarantee of innovation.
In the PNRR, there is a clear indication of the steps to be taken, in line with the importance of the agreements agreed with the European Community: it is therefore possible to provide serious planning based on the actual institutions’ needs, both in terms of connectivity, both in terms of functionality and enrichment of the tools already in their equipment.
On the education side, there has already been a transformation going on for some time, at least in terms of the articulation of the rooms and the quality of the decor, but this process can not be separated from a justified acquisition of technological instruments that ensure flexibility and compliance . with the needs of teaching, on the part of teachers. For this to happen, it is necessary that the school’s representatives have a sufficient knowledge of IT tools, but also and above all that they participate in an innovative vision of the teaching in a way that is invested carefully and consciously. Companies, along with technologies, must also offer technical training, certainly not the didactic one, to allow needs, calls, ambitions to do even in an experimental way never fail in schools. The experiments are used to look to the future, the school must not only keep up with the outside world, but it must become its driving force. These may not be widespread and pervasive experiences, but they will certainly be needed to provide naturalness and practicality to the need to get children to acquire new skills.
On the other hand, interactivity is now an integral part of the world of work: it allows you to develop creativity, design and content gathering in an innovative way. 360-degree immersion can be an ambitious step, but imagining having in a selection of schools not only video projectors hanging on the walls, but the walls themselves, which become interactive surfaces, could be a model to follow to involve more and more students , immersed in a world very familiar to them, sounds and vivid images with which they can act, they can truly become the protagonists of an original learning process.
HOW TO PLAN A STRUCTURE PROJECT
The company that sells technologies needs to change attitude towards the school, it needs to listen much more to it, not think that it always has the best and most innovative solution. By interacting in conversation with the school leader and the innovation team, he or she must be able to understand the meaning of the project that the school intends to carry out in order to be able to support it adequately. However, there is the problem of the high percentage of teachers who are not yet able to use technological tools at a basic level. Here the question of prioritization arises: Support those who are behind or support those who are ahead in experimenting with technology? It is certainly necessary to equip oneself to segment the communication channel and thus try to help individuals or groups of teachers who intend to innovate and, on the other hand, bring those who are still in their first steps to an acceptable digital level of competence. .
There was no shortage of funds, and there certainly will not be a shortage in the future, but if we still find realities where technologies do not seem to be able to help teachers, it means that there was a lack of sufficient attention and competence at the time of procurement. Very often, there is a tendency to acquire more technologies, even if one starts with a limited budget: this means that the instruments purchased will not meet the needs of teachers to any great extent. Until now, resources have been balanced, others will come, and will allow us to acquire quality products that guarantee durability and efficiency.
WHAT SHOULD THE SCHOOL DO
Read the messages carefully, but do not follow them slavishly, especially when there is an invitation to remove the technologies that already exist in the school. This is done in the message on touch screens. Legislation stipulates that the supplier must dispose of the IWBs and video projectors available at the school. If this happened, it would be an obvious injury from an educational and environmental point of view. It would be much more logical to envisage the maintenance and integration of all these technologies, which seem to be similar but which can perform different tasks for a more advanced and immersive teaching, very useful for an ever greater involvement of the students.
An additional call to schools is not to wait until the last minute to place orders. The problem with the delivery of the devices is becoming more and more urgent and burdensome, one can therefore hope that the ministry will provide extensions, but once it has been decided what to buy, it is important that everything is planned and implemented at the right time. .
Above all, it is essential that there is a coordinated and systemic vision of what the school needs in the various sectors, in order to avoid the purchase of incompatible technologies.