CHANGING MINDSET IN SCHOOL TEACHERS. THE STRANGE CASE OF THE ITALIAN NATIONAL PLAN FOR DIGITAL SCHOOL AND THE H-MOOC ON CODING
1 University of Naples federico II (ITALY)
2 University of Urbino (ITALY)
About this paper:
Conference name: 8th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 4-6 July, 2016
Location: Barcelona, Spain
Abstract:The National Plan for Digital School (PNSD 2015) is one of the main components of “La Buona Scuola”, the national policy program to modernize the K-12 schools system in Italy. Born as a deliberative policy-making process, indeed la Buona Scuola has been bitterly contested because of its general aim to reinforce and responsibilize the school leadership, thus reducing the general sense of collegial participation in school and program management. On the other hand, however, the school system in Italy has never experienced such a level of bottom up participation, engagement, and centrality in government policies, with a positive effect on allocated funds for reengineering education, renewal of school buildings, and creation of new skills and pedagogies in teacher education. One billion Euro has been, in fact, allocated to the National Plan for Digital School in order to bring broadband and connectivity in all K-12 institutions, to create a generation of tech savvy teachers, to provide educational opportunities to all the field personnel, to elaborate and implement a consistent strategy for learning by doing, problem solving, and lab-based teaching initiatives. Moreover, the national strategy aims at laying a common ground for basic skills both in teachers and learners, experimenting with new approaches and at the same time, inviting teachers to become researchers in their field. The need for repositioning education is well supported by some data: an inquiry by OCSE TALIS (2013) sees Italy in first place for teacher training and educational needs in ICTs, with 36% of teachers investigated declaring themselves to be insufficiently prepared for technology-enhanced teaching against an average rate of 17%.
Considered as a central pillar of “La Buona Scuola”, the PNSD intends to propose a strategic vision regarding 21st century education, using digital not as a means but as a game-changer that is able to push for organizational change, to leverage key education resources (mainly human), to promote open educational resources (OER) and professional skills development. In other words, to re-position the italian education system on the global market. It seems to be a complete change of paradigm. Coding has been recognized by the PNSD as a fundamental discipline to be introduced at schools to develop computational thinking skills, with a non secondary effect: to converte the teacher role into an enabler factor, giving to it new centrality, legitimation and social value.
The MOOC on Coding has been offered through the European Multiple MOOC Platform (europeanmoocs.eu, Emma for short). The MOOC has been organized as a hands-on experience course, that is mainly based on live webinars illustrating how to organize coding activities using only freely accessible online resources. This approach allows them to learn the fundamental principles of coding together with their pupils and to apply computational thinking to any topic. Considered as a transversal skill, the objective of such a MOOC was to restore the centrality of the teacher in the Italian school system through a highly scalable process of teaching/learning among the diverse actors involved: coding ambassadors, teachers and digital animators, pupils as final users. In this paper, we will explore the dimension of the experience, the relevance of pedagogies used, as well as the factors of success with empirical data on user profiles, previous learning experience as well completion rate.
Keywords: MOOC, hybrid approach, teaching to teachers.