As with smart working, technology has been around for years. But only now is it entering the homes of millions of people. Coronavirus and closed schools have forced the use of digital platforms for education
Whether it’s distance learning or e-learning , the substance is that: coronavirus and closed schools have forced the use of digital platforms for education. As has already happened in China (on a much larger scale), the study via smartphone has revolutionized the habits of students and teachers in a few days, but also the composition of the downloads. Educational platforms and video conferencing solutions have outperformed social and games in the rankings of the most downloaded apps.
From Google to Microsoft
As with smart working, technology has been around for years. But only now is it entering the homes of millions of people. At the end of February, the MIUR published a page dedicated to distance learning. It is “a work environment in progress to support schools in the closure period linked to the coronavirus emergency”. The ministry indicates two platforms, which have made their resources available: G-Suite for Education and Office 365 Education A1. The first is the Google package. In addition to generalist products like Gmail and Drive, there are more specific ones. Hangouts Meet allows you to communicate via chat and video conference, up to 250 participants, and with streaming up to 100,000 users. The Classroom application allows you to “create virtual classes, distribute assignments and tests, give and receive comments on a single platform”. Office 365 Education A1 is instead of Microsoft. It includes Teams, which allows you to activate video conferences, video calls, digital whiteboards, collaboration between classes and file archives.
The platforms that bring classes online
E-learning platforms don’t stop at large groups. The Italian one that reaches more teachers and students is WeSchool. Founded by Marco De Rossi under the name of Oilproject, it helps teachers to “bring their classes online and make their teaching digital”. About 2 million students access the Library section every month, populated by video lessons. Moodle is an open source platform used by companies for training, but also by teachers to digitize part of the educational pathways. Edmodo gives the possibility to organize the class work, both on the benches and in the chair. It offers resources for schools, teachers, students and also for parents. Redooc, more than as a digital version of the classes, stands as an “online alternative to repetitions” and is focused on “mathematics, physics, Italian, Invalsi, financial education and logic games “. The Miur cites Bricks Lab, a Milanese platform that “allows you to create multimedia lessons” and “personalized educational constructions”. Resources can be shared by teachers with students, but also with colleagues, “so as to pool their work and benefit from that of others”.
Closed schools effect: the most downloaded apps
As already happened in China , video conferencing and distance learning applications in Italy have also bypassed TikTok and smartphone games. According to App Annie data, the seven most downloaded applications of March 6 on the iPhone are related to education or meetings remotely. In order: Meet and Classroom from Google, WeSchool, Skype, Edmodo, Zoom (for meetings) and Microsoft Team. Also on Google Play (the app store for Android), Meet and Classroom are at the top. Edmodo, Teams, Zoom, Skype and WeSchool are in the top 20.
Yellow and red areas: the first examples
Before the closure of schools was extensive, some institutions in the most exposed areas had already organized. Some of their experiences were collected by the Miur. At the Oriani scientific high school in Ravenna, students follow the tutorials and lessons of the teachers through the Classroom and Meet apps. The Prealpi Institute of Saronno is organizing lessons via Skype and WeSchool, not so much to advance with the program as to organize recovery courses. The Comprehensive Institute of Lozzo Atestino (which Vo ‘also belongs to, in the province of Padua) has started lessons broadcast live by the teachers. From 25 February, the professors of the Tosi Institute in Busto Arsizio have been connecting with students every morning.
Experience (before coronavirus)
Those who had already used e-learning platforms without the coronavirus constraint decided to make their experience available. Indire (a research institute of the Ministry of Education) is headed by the Avant-garde educational movement and the Small Schools project. The first brought forward the idea of the “Flipped Classroom”, that is of the “inverted classes”: the lessons are done from home, with videos and digital resources. The classrooms instead become laboratory spaces, with a practical approach. Small schools aggregates almost 9 thousand institutes and 600 thousand students, with lessons and shared projects thanks also to the use of video conferences. The teachers who belong to these two educational networks gave their willingness to collaborate with colleagues who, overnight, found themselves doing digital lessons.a series of free webinars : courses ranging from privacy to music lessons, from instructions on the use of platforms to practical examples of teaching. Objective: “To spread and share good practices in support of innovation processes for our school system”. Someone had already understood how important they were. Even without coronavirus.