School 4.0, last chance PNRR: this will change the training system

The Minister of Education Patrizio Bianchi has maintained a rather “sober” profile in this legislature; however, its action is proving to be quite incisive.

First, he managed the pandemic phase with pragmatism and without fanfare, thus allowing back to class of all pupils and students, and the resumption of a certain “normality” in the management of the formative process at all levels of school education.

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Its agenda was then developed, in an organic way, based on the objectives of the National Recovery and Resilience Plan (PNRR).

In fact, most of the minister’s legislative initiatives are linked to the achievement of the objectives of the Plan, which are set out in the Political-Institutional Policy Act for 2022, of 16 September 20221, which can be summarized in the following table:

Figure 1 The priorities set by Minister Bianchi for the reform of the Italian school

All the objectives presented in the Guidance Act are then goals already “funded” through specific measures within the National Recovery and Resilience Plan, which it allocates 20,890 million as part of “Mission 4 – School and Research” to the reform and innovation of Italian schools, to which it must at least be added 2 billion of 10, obtained from Mission 1 – Digitization, innovation and security in the AP- which will serve to complete the broadband connection and WiFi cabling of all schools.

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We can summarize in this way the legislative acts of Minister Bianchi that precede the School Plan 4.0 which we will discuss in more detail later.

New schools and sports infrastructure to restore the centrality of the school in society

In October 2021 they were activated calls for tenders for the improvement of the training offer of the Italian school. These are the 4.6 billion PNRR funds that in 2025 will increase the number of schools and improve and expand their services with the political and social purpose of putting the school back at the center of the lives of local communities, not only as a training structure, but also as a social institution.

This endowment will allow the creation of approx 228,000 new publications in the centers of infantile and infantile education, the construction of 1,000 school buildings of new concession for the distribution of spaces and digital infrastructures (800 million Euros) and 400 gyms (700 million Euros) in order to reduce the students in class and enhance the full day. Funds for school canteens (400 million) and 500 million for the security of the existing school building park have also been provided in this call (it should be noted that more than 40% of the funds go to schools in the south) .

The new recruitment of teachers and continuing education

At the March 2022 hearing, Minister Bianchi quoted, for the first time, after the 2021 deed of domicile, the “School plan 4.0“Indicating it as a measure that can have an endowment of about 2.1 billion euros and which aims to offer the Italian education system” the possibility of endowing all our schools with the full use of the full range of ‘technological tools’ useful for education innovation and the improvement of digital skills of students and teachers.

The School Plan 4.0, however, was preceded in April 2022 by the presentation of the decree developing the rules of the PNRR (decree law GU 30 April 2022, n.36 – decree PNRR 2) of permanent teacher training and updating system which constitutes a fundamental premise. In fact, it makes little sense to provide schools with rich digital infrastructures, without teachers being properly trained to use them.

The decree 36 is divided into a series of measures that provide, when they are in full operation, and after a transitional phase, that to access teaching it will be necessary to have a disciplinary degree and 60 university credits, to be acquired through a specific itinerary dedicated mainly to innovative teaching methodologies managed and taught by Italian universities. The course will end with a final test for access to the professorship competition, which will be followed by a year of testing. In addition, the Decree also provides for four-year continuing education courses, the guidelines of which will be definedand by the newly created School of Higher Education for Managers, Teachers and Staff of Ata (PNRR, Misura). Reform 2.2: High School and compulsory training for principals, teachers and school technical-administrative staff, p. 188). In training a broad emphasis will be placed laboratory teaching methods, language and digital skills, as well as STEM and multilingualism (for example the CLIL methodology). Participation in these activities is voluntary and to facilitate access, an accelerated salary progression mechanism is planned for teachers (one step each year); The training will be valuable for the purposes of formulating the ranking of the institute, transfers of professional mobility. This last aspect is very relevant, because it inserts an element that rewards merit in the recruitment and training procedures of teachers. An important innovation within a career, such as that of teachers, almost exclusively linked to progression by seniority.

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With the linked provision to continuing education and to the new access to the role, a specific framework is defined to build the methodological and formative competencies of the new School Plan 4.0, which announced that Bianchi himself published in an interview with Sole24ore on June 17, 2022.

The School 4.0 plan: the infrastructural foundations of didactic change

The School 4.0 Plan – funded by the PNRR (Investment 3.2: School 4.0 – Innovative Schools, PNNR, p. 190) provides for an infrastructural intervention in approximately 100,000 classrooms in 40,000 Italian schools which transforms them into innovative and technologically “augmented” architectural spaces in which teaching is made based on the Learn by doing. The deadline for implementation of the Plan, according to the Ministry’s website, is expected to end by December 2025. This is a measure, which affects approximately one third of the 360.00 classrooms in Italian schools and promises a real revolution both with regard to the architectural forms of learning spaces and their technological equipment. In addition, for the summer the goal is to allocate more than 500 million to immediately upgrade the laboratories of digital professions of technical and professional institutes to adapt them to the skills required by the plan Industry 4.0: programming, 3D design, CAD, robotics, big data. , etc.

It is about an innovative investment of 2.6 billion also in the administrative form because there will be no tenders but each school will receive its resources from the Ministry and funds that will be allocated directly.

A small revolution in the design of learning spaces

Let’s see what this is all about small revolution in the design of learning spaces dedicated to our children. Today’s Italian schools, in most cases, do not have classrooms (and even laboratories) that allow students to use devices, digital learning environments (VLE) and software every day, even the most basic ones. such as spreadsheets or word processors, in face-to-face teaching. Very often, in fact, the technological equipment of today’s classrooms is limited to electronic registration (although commendable) and a POI or projector available to the teacher to present Web content, only when the Internet bandwidth is often poor. .

The new learning spaces, and we deliberately do not use the term classrooms or classrooms, instead, will be very different will have a physical arrangement of the furniture of “variable geometry”, that is, will allow an easy reconfiguration of the classroom learning space in the classroom according to educational activities and digital and non-digital technologies, useful for their realization. This model of spatial design was well described in Manifesto of educational spaces prepared by INDIRE in March 2019, in collaboration with the schools of the Projecto Educational avant-garde.

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The 1 + 4 model

This is the 1 + 4 model. The center of the school, according to the Manifesto, must be a, that is, the learning environment, described above, is multifunctional, connected and equipped with devices for students and all the daily activities of the class group. In addition, each school complex must have others “four” spaces. Let’s analyze them separately:

  • An Agora that is, a “commonplace” of the entire school community. A great environment as an Auditorium to share events also open to the territory (such as orientation at the entrance and exit), but especially for the presentation to the plenary of especially significant projects carried out by class groups.
  • A space for discovery and exploration that is to say, a series of thematic laboratories endowed with specific instrumentation of observation, experimentation and manipulation, real and digital, of the contents of learning where to develop, also by means of the use of the suitable technologies, disciplinary and transversal competitions.
  • A series of informal spaces, designed as a place of meeting, rest and coexistence. Comfortable and relaxing environments to chat, eat and have fun.
  • A series of individual spaces: self-study, meditation, reflection, reading, ie stations protected and protected with individual reading / writing tools.

The 4.0 school plan aims fully integrate the physical learning environment with the digital environment. Each school and each class must have a “virtual learning environment (VLE)” to manage face-to-face teaching, one or more large interactive screens connected to the network, and digital devices (laptops, tablets, possibly even smartphones). ), individual or group, which will be provided to students for daily use. In addition to this basic endowment, the plan provides for the acquisition by schools of viewers for virtual reality and augmented reality for immersive teaching and other tools such as 3D printers, graphics tablets and software for video and image management, as well as robot domes and software for coding. All this to create a new teaching that meets the new learning styles of digital natives or Generation Z.

Conclusions

We hope that Bianchi’s work will be successful and that the PNRR funds will start the words of the minister: “a great process of didactic innovation, with more interactive classes, more students involved and fewer face-to-face classes. During Covid we were forced to submit to technologies, rather than presence. With this transformation we reverse the process, increase skills and use technologies with critical capacity ”. The occasion of the PNRR is truly unique and unrepeatable and perhaps even the last to be able to reform and make public schools in Italy more competitive.

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