Multidisciplinary Laboratory Teaching
Codice progetto: 10.8.4.A2-FSEPON-INDIRE-2017-1
Project code: 10.8.4.A2- ESFNOP -INDIRE-2017-1
Axis I – “Investing in competences, education and lifelong learning”
SO 10.8 – “Spreading of knowledge society in the world of school and training and adoption of innovative didactic approaches” (ESF)
Action 10.8.4 – “Training of school staff on technologies and innovative methodological approaches”
Duration of the project: from 1/1/2016 to 31/12/2018
Extension of activities until 31/12/2019
Referent for the project and the line of research – Jessica Niewint
Since 2016, the research project Multidisciplinary laboratory teaching has been included in the multi-fund National Operational Programme (2014IT05M2OP001) “For schools – competences and learning environments” 2014 – 2020, financed under Axis I – “investing in competences, education and lifelong learning”.
In line with specific objective 10.8 – “Spreading of knowledge society in the world of school and training and adoption of innovative didactic approaches” (ESF)” and Action 10.8.4 – “Training of school staff on technologies and innovative methodological approaches”, the research project aims to develop: solutions and models through a functional and integrated use of ICT in support of laboratory teaching; software and hardware products; school curricula and the relating training paths for teachers on coding and software prototypes; and curricula based on the potentials offered by new virtual worlds and by immersive and augmented reality.
Since 2016, Indire has started research and experimentation activities aimed at rethinking/innovating and reorganising teaching through an active laboratory approach. The assumption is that these methods and strategies can provide teachers with alternative models to the frontal lesson and can actively involve students in knowledge building and competence development. This is carried out from a disciplinary, interdisciplinary and trans-disciplinary perspective and with methods accounting for specific cognitive characteristics and attitudes of all students. In this context, laboratory teaching is deemed to be a teaching activity where contents, methods and tools are strictly related.
As part of the activities, research aimed to observation, valorisation, support and experimentation of innovative models of laboratory teaching, to be carried out in schools of all types and levels, have been started. This concerns contents, methods, tools and technologies used (including the identification of advanced immersive and simulation-based technological settings in support of teaching practice), and support actions for professional development necessary to accompany this innovation process.
The main objectives of the research project are:
identifying and defining laboratory models and strategies for disciplinary, interdisciplinary and/or trans-disciplinary teaching, also through an integrated and functional use of technologies;
identifying, defining and creating prototypes of software and hardware tools to support laboratory teaching;
designing and testing solutions to support curricular innovation and the enhancement of informal and non-formal learning;
identifying, promoting and documenting good multidisciplinary laboratory teaching practices.
The project was organised into 5 areas of research activity:
- Makers and new technologies for teaching (manager, Jessica Niewint)
- Music area (manager, Marco Morandi)
- Immersive didactics area (manager, Jessica Niewint)
- language-humanity area (manager, Loredana Camizzi)
- Mathematical/scientific area (manager, Ciro Minichini).
The specific objectives of each research area are described below.
The increasing popularity of laboratory teaching is highlighting that it is possible to engage students, even from a very young age, in complex use of technology in support of the experimentation of new laboratory teaching methods. The democratisation of innovation, promoted by the maker movement and the evolution of new technologies allow everyone’s contribution to innovation. The use of these technologies at school has inevitably caused increasing didactic innovation based on pedagogical activism. This research based on multidisciplinary laboratory teaching and Maker space/Fablab provides a safe environment, where students can have a new and profound experience: failing. Learning how to manage mistakes, which is rarely taught at school, becomes a crucial educational advantage. Through cycles of trials and errors, students not only developed incredibly original and complex projects, but they have also acquired a more persistent attitude and worked in heterogeneous teams, improving their capacity to manage intellectual diversity.
The activities proposed are focused on the laboratory approach to the teaching of music practice by shifting the core of teaching from theory to practice and promoting students’ active approach. These activities are based on equal work exchange and cooperation between teachers and students, by joining their competences and transforming the learning environment into a virtual laboratory, where organisational and methodological innovation is applied and a practical approach is encouraged against the classical frontal lesson. In particular, as part of music teaching, there is an increasing use of digital applications able to offer a large variety of software for music education. In parallel to this, as a consequence of specific regulations, there is an increasing demand for laboratory programmes addressed to the teachers of the first cycle of education. Currently, Law no. 107 of 2015 and Legislative Decree no. 60 of 2017 entrust music practice and culture with one of the priority training objectives of the three-year plan of the training offer designed by schools. Therefore, the specific investigation objectives are the following:
- the selection, proposal and testing of training courses through the adoption of good practices characterized by the laboratory approach to music teaching in the first and second cycles of education;
- the creation and testing of specific digital learning environments based on cloud computing, oriented towards practice and musical knowledge, planning and active participation of their members;
- the promotion of a research approach based on collaboration between researchers and teachers and the creation of a research community with the ultimate aim of experimenting innovative and effective teaching practices, as part of a constant process of activity monitoring.
Immersive didactics area
The area aims to investigate the potentials of immersive technology as a means to distance learning, the development of learning outcomes, and a means to favour best practice exchange among teachers. By “immersive” we mean technologies that tend to blend the boundary between the physical world and the virtual one and that promote a sense of cognitive immersion (and in some cases even perceptive) within the latter. Examples of immersive technologies are 3D viewers, wired gloves, surround sound, simulation software, but also a large part of video games and the so-called “virtual worlds”.
Research activities in particular are divided into two dimensions:
- a technological dimension, where the appropriate hardware and software solutions to support the aims of the didactic activities are researched and developed;
- a didactic dimension, where teaching activities and contexts of use are identified. These become the object of study and experimentation, and through them basic and advanced familiarization with distance training courses on immersive platforms is promoted among teachers.
The research relating to this area has the aim of identifying proposals, models and teaching practices that are significant for the innovation of teaching in the disciplines of the linguistic-humanistic area and in particular of the Italian language.
The focus of the activity consists of:
- Rethinking of the curriculum through a reflection on the epistemological aspects of the discipline, but also through an openness to a wider cultural vision and possible intersections with other disciplinary areas;
- Reflection on active and laboratory teaching, which in particular for the Italian language, is still a poorly defined and identified concept.
The disciplines of this area are in fact mostly the prerogative of traditional frontal and transmissive teaching, especially for those parts of the discipline that are more exquisitely curricular such as grammar. In our vision, the transformation of teaching methodologies and ways of working in the classroom are closely linked. With this in mind, research and experimentation projects for Italian language, based on the model of valency grammar, on the understanding of text and creative writing; and a project on philosophy, in a transversal perspective as a key for reading the other disciplines, are underway. Further initiatives on history and foreign languages are also planned.
The research activity conducted in this area is aimed at outlining exemplary paths, in the context of mathematics and science teaching, for the different levels and types of schools. This activity is characterized by the close collaboration between researchers and teachers in planning and conducting the interventions. The aim is to select, document and validate some laboratory teaching practices in the mathematical-scientific field, in order to further share them in the contexts of professional development or research. The developed activities are also aimed at supporting teachers in carrying out reflective practices and peer training experiences, aimed at the introduction and consolidation of laboratory teaching also with the support of different technologies. In these activities, space will be given to practices that focus, in particular, on revising the mathematics and sciences curriculum (also from an interdisciplinary perspective); on laboratory-type approaches with significant metacognitive content (problem posing/solving, inquiry based, etc.); approaches based on collaborative and cooperative work; on metacognition processes with a view to contrasting school malaise and dispersion. The work aims to support the development of territorial and national networks engaged in the didactic experimentation of mathematics and sciences.