Politecnico di Milano (ITALY)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN20 Proceedings
Publication year: 2020
Pages: 7535-7545
ISBN: 978-84-09-17979-4
ISSN: 2340-1117
doi: 10.21125/edulearn.2020.1913
Conference name: 12th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 6-7 July, 2020
Location: Online Conference
Since 2018, at Politecnico di Milano, two innovative and experiential courses have been offered by the author, in Italian and English, to students and PhD to improve their soft skills and to promote psychological wellbeing during their studies on Engineering, Architecture and Design.

During the last two years, the experiential course "Knowledge and Communication of Self" involved more than 750 students and PhD, while the experiential course "Personality, Team-Building and Leadership" involved more than 150.

The COVID-19 sanitary emergency obliges now the author to offer both of them as distant courses.
The paper will present the two experiential courses underlining original contents and modalities and will discuss problems and opportunities imposed by the sanitary emergency. Distant teaching and fruition will be discussed respect to: real-presence/virtual presence, body and emotional perception, empathetic interaction, personal and group performance, time handling and vocal behavior. Teacher’s and students’ feeling, behaviors, results, and interpretation in terms of personal meaning of interactions will be taken into account and discussed.

All the aspects will be presented from a psychological point of view, and with respect to the influence of the innovative technologies used in the courses.
In both courses a Constructivist Models of "Personality and development of Self" is adopted to guide individual and group experiences: the consciousness of body- and emotion-based interactions, the knowledge of personal relational styles, the analysis of experiences in personal and group dimensions guide students to gain personalized soft skills.

The Course "Knowledge and Communication of Self" involves students facing psychological difficulties. Thanks to the proposed experiences, students learn how to give value to their main resources while facing unattended discontinuity (like the sanitary emergency) or difficult moments like depression, addiction, eating disorders, panic or anxiety. The proposed personal and group experiences help them to focus on perceptions, emotions, affects and relational skills and meaning, even when they are virtually shared.

The Course "Personality, Team Building and Leaderships" adds to the previous proposals specific experiences based on group dynamics, communication, role playing, psychodrama, and leadership simulation. We ask students to play distant group games, to simulate significant, creative, warm, efficient, and difficult situation related to professional and personal interactive contexts.

Each experience asks students to be virtually present, to ‘play’ the situation, to re-construct memories, transforming them in shared vocal stories, to observe and to describe the different interaction styles of participants.

Different multimedia communication and cooperative tools and strategies are used to support distant teaching and fruition, for virtual classes, media supported group laboratory experiences, performant activities (like ‘rehearsals and executions’), chat, cooperation and leadership group experiences. They will be discussed in terms of generated opportunities and problems: to compensate what is lost, if neglected, and to emphasize what is original and gained, when underlined. Finally, a pedagogical- and psychological-based decalogue will be suggested.
Experiential courses, distant learning, psychology, covid-19.