HOW TO IMPROVE VISUAL-SPATIAL SKILLS THROUGH A DIGITAL ENHANCEMENT PROGRAM
University of Salerno, Italy
Starting from kindergarten, the child is called to experience a variety of elements drawn from his learning environment, so as to facilitate his transition to primary school (MIUR, 1991; MIUR, 2012; MIUR, 2018). The international literature (Kaldenberg, Watt & Therrien, 2015; NAEYC 2009) argues that, at the base of literacy or mathematical skills, it is necessary to refine specific precursors for subsequent learning, such as visual and auditory discrimination, phonological awareness, manual eye coordination, visual-verbal association and phonological memory. In researching empirical evidence of the link between visual-spatial intelligence and the preschool period, a body of knowledge emerges regarding the criteria and the conditions for promoting cognitive enhancement paths through the use of interactive games.
This paper aims to present the design approach of the VIEP-app software model (Calvani & Zanaboni, 2018), a user-friendly application for computers, tablets and smartphones, intended for preschool children to increase their visual-spatial skills to be used both in presence and at a distance. The authors intend to demonstrate how an ad hoc software application, if placed in systematically structured activities, offers to children the opportunity to understand spatial relationships, by refining their ability to discriminate shapes and colors, to manipulate objects or to identify positions in the space (Vegliante & Miranda, 2020).
From a methodological point of view, this app is part of a wider program consisting of playful-interactive sessions of exercises differentiated by levels of difficulty. After an initial training phase, the teacher guides and supervises the child in interacting with digital devices through a touch screen by dragging, assembling, rotating or manipulating the figures and receiving vocal feedbacks able to maintain high motivation. The created software model allows interfacing with multiple communication channels simultaneously so as to enrich traditional learning experiences. In conclusions, there are some summary considerations on the possible progress of the research and with the aim of demonstrating in which situations and in what ways this kind of enhancement program can contribute to the elaboration of visual-spatial representations in preschool age.
OPPOSITION TO DIGITAL LEARNING IN THE MARCHE REGION: A NEW ACTIVISM FOR DEMOCRATIC EDUCATION IS BORN BETWEEN POLARIZATION AND FEAR
Liceo di Stato Carlo Rinaldini Ancona, Italy
The paper is based on a first hand partecipatory research led by my position of both secondary school teacher and researcher in the city of Ancona, the capital of the Marche region. The methodology is based on etnographic participant observation, qualitative interviews with key informants and quantitative data analysis about the impact of distance learning of significant indicators of education outcomes.
From the very beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic across Italy an active minority parents, teachers and students started organizing against the negative consecuences of the distance learning, the so called "didattica a distanza" - DAD in the Italian acronym. This movement increased and improved the involvement of different social actors of the schooling system on a territorial base and became catalyst of debate, protest and social learning. The main focus of the movement was on the growing evidences of educational inequalities increased by the digital learning, the scarce correlation between covid-19 cases rise and the risk of transmission of virus in schools, the psycological damages on young people and education workers created by the long use of digital devices and by social isolation.
At the same time the mobilization of a minority faced increasing polarization whithin the school system as fear and suffering because of Covid-19 high impact on local communities grew. The mobilization against distance learning has turned into a global "re-signification" tool that challenges social representations of youth but also of the teaching job and teachers identities.
At the same time a complex interwinement of ethical, medical and pedagogical issues was faced by a completely new group of activists that had to develop a new practice with the phisical limitation imposed by the pandemic but also with the new opportunities offered paradoxicaly by the digital social network and video conferencing platforms.
What will school in that territory be after this strong turmoil? which will be the new balance of forces between reality school and the digital avatar that has come to stay?
NOT A “SINGLE STORY”: HOW A GERMAN-ISRAELI COIL PROJECT FOSTERS EDUCATOR-SPECIFIC DIGITAL, INTERCULTURAL, AND LANGUAGE COMPETENCIES
1University of Potsdam / Center for Languages and Key Competences (Zessko), Germany; 2Beit Berl College, Israel
“Power is the ability not just to tell the story of another person, but to make it the definitive story of that person.” This is an insight that Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie shared at a TED conference in 2017. She pointed out the danger of reducing people, cultures, and countries to a “single story,” which limits or even manipulates people’s perception of reality. Adichie’s very personal talk was the starting point for an intercultural digital teaching project initiated by Abel and Prickett. The pilot phase of the project took place during the memorable 2020 summer semester. Its digital nature did not interfere with the project. On the contrary: the online course provided a model form of authentic learning. The students, who are studying to become English teachers, communicated across cultural and organizational barriers by means of Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL). In addition to pedagogical skills such as understanding and (not) judging the “other,” the students were also able to train their flexibility, social adaptation, and responsibility. In the group projects, the students honed their oral language accuracy skills, as more than 80 percent of them stated in a survey. Not only did the students improve their digital competencies, they also reflected on the importance of these competencies and of COIL for their future careers as teachers. This presentation will trace the development of the project: how the instructors met and how they determined the course design in terms of digital tools and course learning goals. Student feedback on the project and recommendations for course development will also be presented.
REINVENTING TEACHER EDUCATION THROUGH INTERCULTURAL ETWINNING PROJECTS - AN EXAMPLE FROM PRACTICE
1University of Salerno, Italy; 2Faculty of Teacher Education, University of Zagreb; 3Università di Castilla-La Mancha (Albacete)
The growing need of digitally competent teachers for young learners worldwide is undeniable. Teacher educators are challenged to change their teaching practices, re-evaluate their teaching and learning skills, change programs and syllabi according to contemporary needs and act as skilful mentors in preparing future teachers for quality teaching practices. The Teacher Training Initiative which promoted the use of eTwinning in teacher training education brought about new possibilities and challenges both for teacher trainees and their mentors. It offered practices that develop students’ digital competences both as a grounding point for lifelong learning and a means of promoting intercultural knowledge and understanding in different teaching areas, from foreign languages, pedagogy, and literature to added European values in teaching young learners. Moreover, the promotion of collaborative teaching and learning as a central requirement for the development of quality projects enhances both individual responsibility and positive interdependence between colleagues bringing methodological innovation and creativity as well as fostering interdisciplinary pedagogical environments.
This presentation focuses on an eTwinning project Stories in the language classroom organized and implemented with teacher trainees from the Faculty of Education in University di Castilla-La Mancha (Albacete, Spain), the Course of Primary Education, University of Salerno (Italy) and the Faculty of Teacher Education, University of Zagreb (Croatia). The project is described and analysed with respect to the UNESCO ICT Competency Framework for Teachers (ICT-CFT) and other relevant documents. The evaluation of the project is carried out by taking into consideration both students’ and mentors’ perspectives. Our findings will offer fertile ground for further reflections on the challenges of developing collaborative and intercultural learning environments.
THE FINNISH EDUCATIONAL COMMUNITY AT THE TIME OF COVID-19, PERCEPTIONS AND EXPERIENCES
La Sapienza, Roma, Italia
The lockdown due to the spread of Covid-19 has interrupted the traditional way of teaching by moving interactions into the digital world. In the last year the socio-educational crisis has been added to the health one: in many countries schools were not yet prepared to face digital learning, students had to learn new ways of being in classroom in front of the screen of a digital device, while teachers had to adapt to new teaching models that confronted them with the many difficulties and opportunities offered by the web and ICT.
In such a scenario, digital skills represent a crucial node for both students and teachers as the more they feel trained, the more they incorporate them into daily teaching practices. International data report that 20% of teachers say they need to be educated more in this area and that in 2018 only half of them allowed students to use ICT frequently during classroom work. However, the situation is not the same in all countries. In some cases the percentage reaches 80% while in Israel, Romania and Finland in the last five years there has been a doubling in the educational use of ICT. If on the one hand 74% of teachers in the latter country report having been professionally updated on ICT in the previous year (OECD, 2019), on the other hand how did the current situation impact them?
In light of this, this contribution aims to analyze the studies that have examined the reaction of the Finnish school system to the pandemic and the readiness to use technology as a teaching aid. Specifically, a research still in progress carried out starting from the spring of 2020 by the universities of Helsinki and Tampere on the perceptions and experiences related to distance teaching in emergency will be discussed, focusing attention on the various protagonists involved, teachers in the first place, and putting in relation to what has been collected with data from the international context (Schleicher, 2020). The spread of the pandemic has led to different ways of reacting and the shift from face-to-face teaching to distance teaching has also happened quickly in Finland. After the directives of the finnish Ministry of Education emerged that schools, school leaders, teachers, students and their families have experienced this change in different ways. The management of educational institutions, the well-being of the staff, the evaluation of students, the adequacy of digital infrastructures, the equity in access to teaching in an emergency, the support provided, the resilience of the actors involved in these particular circumstances as well as the digital skills owned will be some of the issues taken into consideration (Ahtiainen et ali., 2021).
Ahtiainen, R. et ali. (2021). Koulunkäynti, opetus ja hyvinvointi kouluyhteisössä koronaepidemian aikana: Tuloksia syksyn 2020 aineistonkeruusta. Raportti helmikuu 2021. https://tuhat.helsinki.fi/ws/portalfiles/portal/160975121/Raportti_helmikuu_2021_Koulunk_ynti_opetus_ja_hyvinvointi_kouluyhteis_ss_koronaepidemian_aikana.pdf.
OECD (2019). TALIS 2018 Results (Volume I): Teachers and School Leaders as Lifelong Learners, TALIS, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://doi.org/10.1787/1d0bc92a-en.
Schleicher, A. (2020). The impact of covid-19 on education insights from education at a glance 2020. https://www.oecd.org/education/the-impact-of-covid-19-on-education-insights-education-at-a-glance-2020.pdf.
TRAINING DIGITAL COMPETENCE OF FUTURE TEACHERS: THE ETWINNING TEACHER TRAINING INSTITUTES PROJECT
Università Mediterranea di Reggio Calabria, Italia
The pervasiveness of digital media in contemporary society – especially following the recent epidemiological emergency from COVID-19 – has led to redefining the boundaries between real and virtual and to rethinking teaching-learning processes through the mediation of new media and technological languages (Rivoltella, 2020). Digital tools are perpetually poised between virtue and vertigo (Quèau, 1993), at the mercy as much as those who demonize them – due to the various dangers of the network, from cyberbullying (fleming, denigration, impersonation, outing, exclusion) to cyberstalking, which ask the Screen generation (Rivoltella, 2006) to develop a critical and responsible thinking – as much as those who consider them an effective resource to promote learning and to rethink learning environments with a view to greater flexibility, diversification, organization, sharing and management of resources, collaboration and social networking (Bonaiuti et al. 2017).
In this scenario, media education is necessary which, in line with European frameworks such as DigComp and DigCompEdu, allows to support the digital competence of teachers and students. The role of the teacher is redefined as a learning planner (Limone, 2012) within an integrated multimedia environment for teaching: if properly trained, he becomes a point of reference for promoting students' digital skills and making them aware of the risks and of the potential of new digital media, through a responsible, critical and reflective use of the same.
Based on these premises, an innovative experience of training the digital competences of future teachers will be presented within the eTwinning Teacher Training Institutes project (Pateraki, 2018), conducted at the Mediterranean University of Reggio Calabria. The training project - in progress - represents a valid professional development tool (Perla, 2019) useful for stimulating not only the multicultural dimension, the culture of inclusion and internationalization processes, but also to share the adoption of good practices, the concept of digital citizenship of the school through remote collaboration conveyed by the use of technologies (ecd.generazioniconnesse.it).
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Pateraki I. (2018), Misurare l'impatto delle attività sulla didattica e lo sviluppo delle competenze degli insegnanti – Quadro di riferimento per il monitoraggio della pratica eTwinning. Unità europea eTwinning (CSS) – European Schoolnet, Bruxelles.
Perla L., Martini B. (2019), Professione insegnante. Idee e modelli della formazione, FrancoAngeli, Milano.
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