The Innovation Research Area concentrates specifically on analysing “structural” innovations in the educational model that are affecting educational systems worldwide. It is therefore in line with one of the goals specified in INDIRE’s constitutive decrees: “To identify current innovation processes in educational and training systems in Italy and in the main international scenarios, and propose actions to systematise and disseminate practices, models and initiatives to support the most important processes taking place in Italian schools.”
Therefore, the Area’s sphere of research is international and the issues it focuses on are those concerning the ongoing transformation of the “Tayloristic approach” made possible also thanks to the opportunities offered by ICT and digital languages. These are structural changes that concern both time and space of teaching. Governments, local authorities, teachers, managers, companies and publishers are also committed towards “the school of the future”.
Consequently, this area analyses ongoing innovation experiences in Italian and foreign schools. It develops proposals to systematise them in order to find the most effective tools, languages and formats to document and disseminate the best educational practices.
Within this framework, operates Educational Avant-garde a movement open to all Italian schools engaged daily in transforming the traditional lecture-based model, aimed at creating a network by singling out and supporting bottom up experiences of innovation that can help overcome didactic, structural and organisational teaching limits.
Another project referring to the Innovation Research area is Small Schools Grow, which analyses and promotes experiences of distance learning, building up a national network, using ICT in geographically isolated schools hindered by dwindling student numbers.
In this context, but not only, the National Operational Programmes on Education – and the repositories NOP Teachers and NOP SOS Students – constitute, through a wide range of digital teaching resources, effective tools to foster new educational approaches and prepare the young for the demands of the third millennium (as well as documenting good practices and experiences thanks to the potential of the Web).
Other initiatives include: New formats for documenting innovation experiences carried out by schools, a project that aims to investigate how audio-visual language can effectively document innovation processes in schools and disseminate them by grasping and transmitting their peculiarities; Teaching Workshops in Technical-Professional Centres, a project designed to breathe new life into Institutes of technical and vocational education and training, identifying and trying out appropriate solutions for innovative teaching methods. Special attention is given to workshop activities regarding core competencies developed through widespread application of digital tools; Coding@School, an in-depth study of coding conceived as a new form of writing and thinking, and a new way to understand reality. Coding@Scuola aims to map out and analyse the ongoing practices and includes the design, trial and possible creation of applications and tools for coding at school. The project Making Learning and Thinking Visible in Italian Secondary Schools (MLTV) is born out of the collaboration between Harvard School of Education and Indire with the aim of stimulating creativity and critical thinking at school. The project analyses how visual representation of thinking processes can benefit studying and knowledge acquisition.
The purpose of the Innovation Research Area is to carry out research projects (as envisaged by the “ “Three-Year Work Plan 2015-2017 – Italian version”) based on experimental research, able to grasp the most significant and remarkable spontaneous bottom-up innovations. Therefore, the research outcomes are systematised in order to guarantee the transformation of school organizational and educational models.
The project arose from the collaboration with a group of schools that were trying out innovative, sustainable and transferable teaching solutions to overcome the lecture-based model. A Movement was created, inspired by a Manifesto for Innovation, containing the principles for change. The first 12 Ideas of Educational Avant-garde were produced observing and analysing innovation processes in a group of schools. Each idea helps to overcome didactic, structural and organisational teaching limits. The project aims to create a network of schools, supporting one or more ideas, to trigger a knock-on effect on school innovation.
Teaching Workshops in Institutes for Technical and Vocational Education and Training
The project was created to make best use of the potential of ICT in order to transform the traditional educational model. In particular, considering the high percentage of early school leaving and the number of students who fail in the first two years of secondary school, the goal is to find appropriate solutions for widespread teaching workshops in “core” subjects (Italian, Maths, Science and Foreign Languages). This means renovating these schools by using active methods (flipped classroom, debates, TEAL, etc.) in daily teaching, especially in those disciplines where students are more in difficulty.
Small Schools Grow
“Small Schools Grow” sets out to analyse and promote a national network of small schools using distance-learning models in geographically isolated schools hindered by dwindling student numbers. This issue concerns around 300 thousand students from about 200 schools on the islands and 3,500 mountain municipalities. In these contexts, the potential offered by digital technology, which can overcome spatial and temporal limits, along with the construction of school networks, can offer solutions to keep the school population on the territory by facilitating the continuation of study and lifelong learning. Setting up a distance school means transforming isolation, due to geographical location, into a learning opportunity for both students and teachers.
New formats for documenting innovation experiences
This project aims to investigate how to effectively document innovation processes in schools and disseminate them by grasping and transmitting their peculiarities. To this end, particular attention will be given to the possibilities offered by the audio-visual language. With the above in mind, there are two questions that the research project intends to answer: which formats (audio-visual, multimedia, human-machine interaction, social relations) are most effective in documenting dynamic multi-dimensional processes such as those involved in transforming school educational and organisational models? Which of these are able to spread innovation to other contexts?
Coding and robotics stimulate and enliven technology. They both imply a form of structured thinking, the computational thinking. In the research project, this will be analysed and experimented from two points of view: the use of formalised languages, including new forms of writing (transversal literacy) and the resolution of problems by machine or human operators using formalised routines (algorithmic thought) beginning with the analysis and formalisation of the problem. INDIRE’s strategy aims to map out and analyse ongoing practices, in and out of the school-system, and also to design and test teaching methods and tools.
Making Learning and Thinking Visible in Italian Secondary Schools (MLTV)
Harvard Project Zero and INDIRE are collaborating on the experimentation of an innovative educational model able to valorise and capitalise on disciplinary knowledge and skills, to develop a variety of ways of thinking: critical, creative, logical-mathematical, reflexive, decisional, and systemic. The project Making Learning and Thinking Visible in Italian Secondary Schools (MLTV) will investigate how two key Project Zero conceptual frameworks—Making Learning Visible and Visible Thinking—can be adapted with integrity in Italian public secondary schools.