The project is the result of a joint initiative by INDIRE and a group of 22 founding schools. This led to the identification and definition of some innovative and sustainable teaching schemes which allowed the definition of the first 12 “Ideas for Innovation”. INDIRE and the schools heading the Educational Avant-garde movement drew up a Manifesto for Innovation.
Each idea is a piece of a puzzle that aims to revolutionise the education system and space and time of learning and teaching. All the results are the product of hands-on experience.
The number of schools taking part in the Movement is constantly growing. They are institutes that identify themselves with the Movement’s inspiring principles and work daily on rethinking the lecture-based school model to give a concrete answer to the constantly changing challenges of the knowledge society.
Educational Avant-garde is open to all schools that welcome the opportunities offered by scholastic autonomy and can identify innovation, characterise it, and develop it so that it becomes viable, sustainable and transferable to other suitable situations. It is addressed to schools that consider technology an effective tool to overcome the inertia and space-time limitations of “traditional” educational activities.
The Movement welcomes Italian schools’ initiatives contributing to:
1) making innovation processes replicable and sustainable by drawing inspiration from the “Gallery of Ideas for Innovation” (Adopt an Idea);
2) expanding the collection of ideas with new proposals (Submit an Innovation Experience).
In the first case, the schools that try out one or more “Ideas for Innovation” become part of an in person and online support scheme (themed webinars, multimedia materials, asynchronous interactions, online reception desk, etc.). They also share ideas with INDIRE and the founding schools to make innovation experiences replicable. In this way constant assistance is provided to teachers and headmasters.
In the second case, a call for innovative proposals is open. The ones in line with the objectives of the Manifesto and with a systemic impact on schools will be implemented. INDIRE and the schools involved will come up with new ideas by means of analysis and visits in loco.
From the study and research point of view, the objective of the project is to support school change, investigating possible dissemination and systematisation strategies for innovation. At the same time it focuses on enabling factors and any that hinder the spreading of innovation.
3) Creating new learning spaces: the fluidity of the communication processes activated by ICT is in conflict with physical environments that no longer match educational contexts that are constantly evolving. An avant-garde school gradually redesigns its spaces and places with solutions that are flexible, multi-functional, modular and easily rearranged according to the activities, also for more informal uses.
4) Reorganising teaching time: rethinking the educational model involves both the planning and management of learning time. In order to accomplish this aim, it is necessary to rethink some organisational rigidities, such as the school calendar, the timetable and the duration of the lessons. This change must come about bearing in mind the need for a rationalisation of resources, an educational plan divided into units and modules, the introduction and use of ICT and its application in the sphere of learning.
5) Reconnecting the know-how of schools and the know-how of the knowledge society: thanks to the spreading of the Internet, today’s society brings value to new skills that often do not involve a subject in particular. The development of these skills is linked to a way of learning and working that is intimately connected to the surroundings. The school world can understand the ongoing social changes and improve the service, in accordance with the local demand, only if it keeps up to date with the evolution of know-how.
6) Investing in “human capital” while reconsidering relationships: teachers become directors of active learning models and acquire a positive view of didactical change. The avant-garde school can identify resources to enrich its service by means of constant innovation that guarantees quality in the educational system. These resources can be found at local level, among associations, businesses and informal contexts.
7) Promoting innovation that is sustainable and transferable: the goal of avant-garde schools is to identify innovation and to make it implementable, sustainable, and replicable in other situations. In this respect, it is necessary to identify those key elements to standardise practices to create a transferable and sustainable model for suitable contexts.
Within the three basic dimensions of teaching, Physical Space, Time and Didactics, the Movement has developed 15 innovative ideas:
- Subject-related Classroom Lab
- Flexible Spaces
- Grade Retention with Course Credits
- Block Scheduling
- TEAL (Technology Enabled Active Learning)
- Integration of Digital Educational Content/Textbooks
- Spaced Learning
- ICT Lab
- Flipped Classroom
- Scenario-based Teaching
- Inside/Outside School learning
- Differentiated Learning
- Beyond the school subjects
- Independent Learning and Tutoring
- Inside/outside – service learning
Schools that wish to join the Movement can do so by adopting one of these ideas. In addition, the collection of ideas can be enriched in the future by other innovative experiences presented by schools.