Education Minister Patrizio Bianchi signed the School Plan 4.0defined a concrete transformative intervention of our school.
What are the strengths and problems of the Plan? But most of all, will it be enough to really transform a complex system like the training system?
School Plan 4.0, will it be the right time to innovate teaching? Strengths and problems
The purposes of the Plan
Before we look at the pros and cons, let’s start with the stated purpose of School 4.0: innovating Italian schools through their digital transition, making school structures more technologically advanced, flexible and suitable for further digitization of education.
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This goal is pursued with different actions, among which the MIUR website highlights the equipment of 100,000 classrooms for innovative teaching, ie just over a quarter of all classrooms. The others will be dealt with later using the other structural funds in an integrated way. The minister says: by 2026 all classrooms in the country will be equipped to allow for innovative teaching based on digital technologies. Unlike the MIUR site, the PNRR site emphasizes the wiring of all Italian schools to provide a high-speed connection (see figure).
Other actions refer to the teacher trainingthe ITS updatethe introduction of disciplines related to digital technologiesthe making of workshops for the professions of the future in all upper secondary schools.
The 2.1 billion of the Plan will be allocated to schools based on the number of classrooms and students, without tenders. In each institution, they will be managed for design team and spent as shown, from now until 2025.
High speed connection of schools
As for the positives, the problem of the creation of a digital infrastructure for the Italian school. In fact, the plan calls for 40,851 school buildings to have one high speed connection with ultra wideband.
The connected school plan of the Strategic Plan for Broadband of the Ministry of Economic Development already aimed to provide each school with Internet access based on a connectivity of 1 Gbit / s in access, with at least 100 Mbit / s guaranteed symmetrical up to Internet exchange points. To date, 13,806 schools have been connected under this plan. School 4.0 will give a boost to schools ’IT infrastructure, focusing on equipping classrooms and accelerating high-speed connection times. But beyond that, there is the recognition of the importance of digital for learning and the consequent need to rethink spaces and equipment to use it.
The questions to ask in order to conceive a new school
Okay, then? No, and we’ll see why. Designed to meet the needs of past centuries, the Italian school seems inadequate to meet the challenges of today’s society. In the past, individual aspects have been reformed to try to adapt to the new demands. The Good Will disappeared and the unique middle school with new programs, it was launched school autonomythe structure of the high school, numerous plans have been launched for the introduction of information technologies, etc. But the school remained inadequate. Because?
Because training is a complex system, in which the variation of one element influences all the others. Intervening in one aspect leaving others unchanged does not work. But taking into account all the elements that make up the school system, shown in the figure, means conceiving a new school.
What us purpose? How these affect the curriculum? What are the abilities indispensable for all citizens today? As the curriculum reflects the dynamics of known and skills that are indispensable today? Which one instruments are they needed to acquire new knowledge and also to create it? What if the technology digital technology replaces writing technology and the digital device replaces the book paper? And how, as a result, do the ways to learn? How it is possible to cope with growth complexity from the world to the school microcosm? In a fully interconnected world, the current one is still valid fragmentation of knowledge in school subjects? Hourly exploration and the sequential use and is the random topic still effective? And so it is the organization of the class? How should the school organization change in the face of these changes? I how to rethink spaces, overcoming the idea of the classroom as an enclosed space, designed to listen to lessons, hybridizing them with virtual space? And what professional profile of teachers is it necessary in this new school? And how are teachers trained and updated?
These are just a few questions to be answered by anyone who wishes, to say so with our counselor, to make a concrete transformative intervention in our school, or to conceive a new school, as I would say. If I had the chance, how would I proceed?
A “Plan” also for the school
To clarify this, I will use an analogy with the Genoa map created by Renzo Piano. Blueprint is the vision given in Genoa by Renzo Piano to define the urban, port, industrial and social future of Genoa. A vision, then, that dictates the interventions to be made over time, directing the resources that are gradually being made towards their realization.
Even for the school, a project would be needed to redesign it, taking into account all its components illustrated in the figure, starting with the purposes. To achieve this, a multidisciplinary project could be launched in which not only national entities participate, but also international research centers that have contributed to the creation of new school systems. Once this vision has been defined, the resources we have will be progressively oriented towards the realization of the different aspects that make it up.
But following that day, how to use it better opportunity that politics or chance, at this time, the pandemic and the PNRR, make available?
For School 4.0 I would have used all the resources to create the minimum conditions for using digital for learning. In particular, I would have addressed these main objectives:
- eliminate, or at least strongly mitigate, the digital divide between students and teachers;
- equip all classrooms with a projector connected to a computerconnected to the network, and a screen;
- speed up the ultra-wideband connection of all school buildings, so that in each classroom all students can connect at the same time, using their own laptop;
- Implement actions aimed at develop digital literacy from the first school years;
- To create a working group to support and monitor the implementation of the intervention.
The first provision, then, refers to the digital divide which is the line that divides those who have effective access to information technologies (particularly personal computers and the Internet) and those who are excluded, partially or totally.
From the beginning of primary school to the last year of secondary school, the school of digital society requires that all students have:
- a personal laptop with related software. By that I mean a personal computer for use at school and at home. So it’s not a school or family station. And I’m not even referring to a minimal device, such as a smartphone or tablet, that can complement it, but not replace it;
- Internet access;
- the necessary digital skills.
A laptop for each student
To bridge the digital divide among students, this measure could provide all students who cannot afford it with a personal computer, Internet connection and ways to learn how to use these resources effectively. In fact, the availability of a personal laptop is a necessary, though not sufficient, condition for operating in a school and in a digitized society.
Classrooms equipped for digital
The second desirable measure should affect all classrooms, which could be equipped with the minimum necessary to use digital (a projector, a screen, a computer with related software, an effective Internet connection for all students) without privileging effectively 100,000. and expensive devices.
Ultra-wideband, digital literacy and working group
The third provision (ultra-wideband connection) complies with the provisions of the Plan.
For the development of digital literacy from the first years of school, it seems necessary a comprehensive program of professional development of all primary school teachers, which will be carried out in parallel with the previous actions.
Finally, it would create a working group and an agile infrastructure distributed throughout the national territory, to support schools, and their project groups, and monitor the development of the entire Plan.
These interventions are essential to create the minimum conditions for the use of digital in schoolbut they do not solve the problem we have which, I repeat, is that of develop a vision of a new school and a strategy to make it a reality; vision and strategy that guide the future actions and investments of the institutions designated to favor the harmonious development of our boys and girls and their integration in this society.
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