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ScuolaDigitaleTIM, where technology meets creativity

An interview with Anna, a young coach working on our project aimed at promoting technical innovation to Italian schools.

02/12/2019 - 03:03 PM

What kind of feedback have you had from the students participating in the classes offered by the ScuolaDigitaleTIM project?Are there differences between the boys and the girls?

The students' feedback has been really positive.In most cases, the activity was something new to their school experience.Even if they live with technology day in and day out, the children aren't accustomed to using technology to learn and create. We found no differences at all between the girls and the boys - with the right guidance, no one had any real difficulties!

Are the online lessons, which include videos and downloadable course materials, organised the same way as the classroom courses or do they offer different topics? Who are they intended for?

The online lessons give all young people who are interested the possibility to do a genuine tutorial, where they learn how to develop projects not only in coding and electronic prototyping, which are the topics in the classroom lessons, but also robotics, digital art, physical computing, 3D modelling, video gaming and digital storytelling.The teaching method used in all the courses is Creative Learning.
Through this method, which is especially recommended for education that uses technology, the students learn by doing, trying, making mistakes and starting again, with help from the most powerful tool they have - creativity!

When we talk about the Internet of Things, robotics and  making, why is it important for the students to be able to 'do things concretely', rather than merely learning the concepts?

Especially for topics they're not experts in, the students need to learn not just concepts, which, in the end, are useless - what they need is to actually get their hands on things.First hand experience makes everything simpler and quicker.

Which educational kits are used for ScuolaDigitaleTIM activities in the classroom (and what tools are needed to follow the online lessons)?

In the classroom we use a programmable electronic card called micro:bit. It's a little computer that fits in your pocket and can be used for lots of little inventions.To create projects using the video tutorials, users also needan account on Scratch, the mBot robot, a Makey Makey card, the online 3D modelling tool Tinkercad, every-day items of various shapes and uses, stationery and a big dose of creativity!

From your viewpoint, as someone with first-hand experience of the project, what added value do you think it has for our students?

The added value of this project lies in the fact that thanks to this laboratory, young people can come face to face with new subjects, and do this with the help of someone who is not part of their usual school context.In this way, they can approach the classroom workshops without any preconceptions, full of enthusiasm to use a method and tools that are rarely found in schools.

Why is it important now for Italy to promote the digital culture among children? Can schools play a role in spreading digital skills?

Our young people deal with this technology every day and having them understand it in all its aspects is a fantastic opportunity for them and a duty for us as educators. It's an opportunity because in the near future, no matter what career these students enter, the soft skills they learn thanks to digital education, like logical reasoning and problem solving, will be precious tools. It's our duty because, as educators, we must help students gain in-depth knowledge of the digital environment that surrounds them, so that they can become more aware of both the risks and the infinite possibilities of this technology. Furthermore, adding technology as a learning tool could be a winning card for teachers in any subject, from Italian to science, because it gets their students more involved.

Can you tell us an amusing incident, or one that illustrates the atmosphere among the students in the classroom courses?

Challenges are the basis for almost everything we do in the workshops. One morning, the students split into teams and spontaneously organised a competition that ended up in the school hallways. The competition was to design a pedometer that would be able to count 50 steps. We literally invaded the hallway, but it was really worth it. Even the students' teacher joined in, and she almost won!

"I ragazzi imparano facendo, provando, sbagliando e ricominciando, facendosi aiutare dallo strumento più potente che possiedono: la creatività. inserire la tecnologia come strumento di apprendimento potrebbe essere una carta vincente per gli insegnanti di qualsiasi materia, dall’italiano alle scienze, per coinvolgere maggiormente la classe."

Anna, Coach del progetto ScuolaDigitale TIM


Quali kit didattici vengono utilizzati in aula (e quali strumenti sono necessari per chi segue le lezioni online) per svolgere le attività di ScuolaDigitaleTIM?

In aula viene utilizzata una scheda elettronica programmabile di nome micro:bit, un piccolo computer che entra in una tasca capace di dar vita a tante piccole invenzioni. Per realizzare i progetti protagonisti dei video tutorial servono anche: un account su Scratch, il robot mBot, la scheda Makey Makey, il tool online per la modellazione 3D Tinkercad, oggetti di uso quotidiano dalle forme e dagli utilizzi più diversi, cancelleria e tanta creatività!

Dal punto di vista di chi ci lavora in prima persona, quale pensi che sia il valore aggiunto di questo progetto per i nostri studenti?

Il  valore aggiunto di questo progetto sta nel fatto che grazie a questo laboratorio i ragazzi possono affrontare tematiche nuove con l’aiuto di una figura esterna al loro ambiente scolastico quotidiano. In questo modo,  affrontano il workshop in aula senza alcun pregiudizio, avvicinandosi con grande entusiasmo ad un metodo e a strumenti che a scuola di solito non vedono.

Perché è importante oggi per l'Italia promuovere la cultura digitale tra i giovanissimi? La scuola come può contribuire nella diffusione delle competenze digitali? I nostri ragazzi hanno a che fare con la tecnologia ogni giorno e fargliela conoscere in tutti i suoi aspetti è una grande opportunità per loro e un nostro dovere in quanto formatori. Un’opportunità perché un domani, in qualsiasi ambito lavoreranno, le soft skill che apprendono grazie all’educazione digitale, come ad esempio le capacità di logica e di problem solving, saranno loro molto utili. Un nostro dovere perché, in quanto educatori, abbiamo il dovere di far conoscere a fondo ai nostri studenti l’ambiente digitale con cui si confrontano ogni giorno in modo da renderli più consapevoli dei rischi e delle infinite potenzialità. E poi, inserire  la tecnologia come strumento di apprendimento potrebbe essere una carta vincente per gli insegnanti di qualsiasi materia, dall’italiano alle scienze, per coinvolgere maggiormente la classe.

Ci racconti un aneddoto divertente e rappresentativo dell'atmosfera che si crea con i ragazzi durante le lezioni in aula ?

Le sfide sono alla base di quasi tutto il workshop. Durante una mattinata i ragazzi, divisi in squadre, hanno dato vita spontaneamente ad una vera e propria gara, conclusa nei corridoi della scuola. La gara consisteva nel progettare un contapassi e riuscire ad arrivare a contare 50 passi. Abbiamo letteralmente invaso il corridoio, ma ne è valsa la pena. Anche l’insegnante che accompagnava i ragazzi al workshop si è cimentata nella gara, rischiando persino di vincere!