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Renato Luti: not just a logo but an educational strategy

It is not easy for beginners to participate in a virtual room but the desire to learn was strong.

Renato Luti

Short bio

I'm a teacher retired who continue to teach as a volunteer in adult education in a little town in Tuscany. I worked several years as an educational coordinator and human resources entertainer in CTP Mediavalle e Garfagnana. In Italy, non-formal teaching and learning are not diffused and are less considered by school authorities. So behalf UNITRE Association I organize and teach ICT courses. My group is Adulti Ancora A Scuola (Adult still at school).

My EPALE

I know EPALE from the beginning. EPALE was born in 2014. In the same year, the Italian legislation switched off CTP, Territorial Permanent Centre for Adult Education. The new CPIAs left the peripheral territories. When I retired, I never stopped exploring the platform since EPALE is stimulating and constantly growing. In my new perspective of teaching and innovative didactics, I still take part in this European platform for adult learning. With the new learner groups of Adulti Ancora A Scuola ( Adult still at school) and UNITRE_Barga, I want to be active and still take part.

My Story

February 2020. In Barga, a city in the north of Tuscany, something happened that would have been difficult to imagine. A group of adults - a little more than twenty - were attending a basic ICT course for adults. The instructor was a retired teacher who supported life-long learning. The course was promoted by the adult university Unitre Barga and was held in a secondary school.

The course participants were beginners. For many of them it was their first experience using a computer. Some didn't have the latest generation multimedia devices, instead they only had the old type of mobile phone, the Nokia with the pixel display. Someone was using their son/daughter or grandchildren's computer, but saw it as little more than a piece of furniture. Their situation was common in many families: young people weren’t interested whether the adults in their homes were able to use computers and smartphones or not. The children were able to provide for any need. The result was that adults were left behind, far behind. Finally they realised this, and seized the chance to enrol on the practical ICT course in order to become independent.

Public leaders in Italy had declared: “everything online and bank accounts for pensions!”, but they didn’t arrange to send these people back to school, so that they could use a Username, password, Spid, e-mail, registered email, online desks, and PIN code… As for the non-practical side of ICT, there were charitable institutions, tax consultants, private consultants, etc., or other members of the family.

The adults enrolled on practical ICT course which started on 14 January 2020. Everything was going smoothly and those who didn’t have a computer at home or internet connection were able to use the computer in the school and start learning. The programme went ahead as scheduled even though not everyone was confident using email. The last lesson was on 3 March 2020.

Having an email address without internet access or a computer at home was useless for many of them. A few hours later the news of the health emergency in Italy broke out. The rush to purchase masks and gloves began. On 5 March 2020 we were told that Covid-19 had arrived, and it was among us. Schools were closed.

Those twenty odd people who had been attending the course found themselves without resources, especially those without a computer, internet, email, or even a smartphone!

The teacher didn’t give up on them and suggested continuing the lessons online, from home. He called the students by phone. The experienced students who had a computer courageously engaged in accessing the web, Google Chrome and Meet platforms. They started using digital tools that they had never used before, guided by the voice of their teacher over the phone. The teacher supported the students in their cultural growth, using websites like www.inclassemia.eu and www.adultiancorascuola.eu.

AAAS (Adulti Ancora A Scuola) Adults at school once more became important because it wasn’t just a logo but an educational strategy. Video conferences and virtual rooms: explanations, images, exercises, corrections, comments, assessments, marking; requests on different subjects and the need to know even more. A new difficulty emerged: at the beginning, just a few had a reliable internet connection, peripheral regions in Italy are not well served. For this reason the traditional phone call was the means of keeping everyone in contact with each other.

Luti

When someone dropped out of the course, someone else joined it through word of mouth. Some bought smartphones and installed WhatsApp that became a very useful means of communication. The experience continued and on Thursday 29 October 2020 at 6 pm, the first video lesson of the year started. This time it was entitled Practical ICT - the Recovery.

It is not easy for beginners to participate in a virtual room but the desire to learn was strong. Two learning groups were created: a basic course and a more advanced one. In April the third course started, entitled The digital world, the shared blog. The learning levels started to differentiate but team spirit, participation and the desire to press on and use the computer like old times with the thread and crochet was a boost for learning.

Furthermore, in the homes of the adult learners, for women in particular, timings and habits had gradually changed. No one was surprised if mum, aunty or grandma spent hours at the computer. House chores were often postponed until the end of distance learning. Not only has Covid-19 changed the priorities of AAAS students’ families, but their friends have also heard about their new interest and were invited to read about it on adultiancoraascuola.eu and on the shared blog.

The experience of practical ICT will continue in 2022. The "veterans” AAAS course continues along a creative path that this year is entitled Dancing on the keyboard. From January 2022, it will have a spin-off course, online: Our English with Emma, an easy and joyful introduction to L2. Our desire now is to find partner groups in other countries for knowledge exchange.


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