The ever-widening spread of the corona virus is dominating the news. It seems likely that a pandemic is inevitable. The world is in crisis. Yet history has taught us that it is precisely at these moments that humankind comes up with creative solutions, innovations and new insights. This week Innovation Origins takes stock of what innovations in the technical and scientific fields lie in front of us which directly stem from the Corona crisis. Read our other articles in this series here.
The United Nations is concerned about the 290 million children worldwide who can’t attend school because of the corona crisis. This was announced by the organisation today. In Italy, a solution to this problem was promptly found. The project #LaScuolaContinua (‘the school continues’) was launched today.
This is a response to the Italian Ministry of Education’s appeal for digital companies and platforms to contribute to the continuation of educational activities. Together with Cisco, Google, IBM, TIM and WeSchool, the joint project supports the school system’s communities during this state of emergency which are now dealing with closed educational institutions. Italy might experience a genuinely positive digital boom because of this crisis. Which is in part due to most offices in the red and orange zones being compelled to operate in a smart way.
Schools and universities will be closed for at least two weeks in Italy. They have already been closed for ten days in the so-called red areas. Millions of pupils and students are consequently at risk of serious learning disadvantages. Thanks to the use of digital tools, this risk of a failed school and academic year is being brought to a halt.
Slow, old and inflexible
Transitioning from conventional face-to-face schooling to online education is a real challenge for the Italian school system. It’s notorious for being slow, old and inflexible. The speed at which the project (conceived by the scientist Ilaria Capua, a well-known virologist and former Italian politician) was initiated so soon is a good thing. The large, independent Copernicani Society group is also involved. And there is methodological support from the Centro Studi Impara Digital as well.
The name #LaScuolaContinua originated as a reaction to the hashtag-of-the-day #scuolechiuse (‘school’s closed’). That’s because schools don’t want to shut down. The online community offers school principals and teachers the opportunity to use free platforms for creating digital classes. They receive guidance on digital teaching, such as sharing files, reviewing lessons and presenting video lessons. For many teachers, this is a whole new world. La Scuola Continua introduces them to the digital options that Cisco, Google and WeSchool provide. La Scuolacontinua also offers the option of support from experts at the Centro Studi Impara Digital. This helps teachers across all areas, from interactive tests of the subject matter to project-based learning.
“It is a minor – as well as a major – technological revolution. Born out of necessity,” says Marco De Rossi, CEO of the successful start-up WeSchool. It has always been his mission to lead the Italian school system into the digital age. Over the past few days, I have worked with a group of leading companies and old friends to come up with a sound response to the emergency and the Ministry of Education’s appeal for help. Not so much: I”ll propose my platform, you”ll propose yours.’ But broader, and shared. In short: a joint answer. We wanted to create a way to help teachers; on any platform. Now we’re ready.”
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