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E-learning History: Italy

[General overview] [Degree programs] [The status of the resources for Italian history teachers in Internet]

This article describes the situation of eLearning history in Italy. Even though there is no national strategy, universities are developing more and more web courses. Courses are mainly blended courses which mean that besides the virtual material there are also face to face meetings. Usually all the materials in the courses are in Italian. There are e-learning history courses mainly in the degree programs of Cultural Heritage and Italian Language and Literature.

General overview

At the moment only 12 Italian universities of 78 offer e-learning courses, but the trend is growing. There is no real national strategy: only self-made experiments and initiatives carried out by individual teachers who lack a real support of the institutional level. Consequently, 50 % of those Italian universities who offer e-learning services only develop ICT tools allowing students to access teaching materials on-line. That’s e-reading rather than e-learning.

If we take a look at existing elearning courses, we can see that almost all universities support blended courses. In other words there are face-to-face lessons with web-elements. In the most examples the teaching method applied is a video-lesson, transmitted in TV-channels or in the web and supported by a series of teaching materials and tools put on-line: links, tests and texts.

Meetings are usually required, but how and when the meetings are arranged, depend on each course and institution. They are often required in the beginning of the course, at the end of the course and during the examinations.

From a technical point of view almost all the institutions use self-developed e-learning-platforms and tailor-made tools. In every case the only language which is used is Italian. Supporting pages can be in English or in French.

None of the institutions offer history courses for international students or consider European point of view: web-courses are usually focusing on the Italian history and the Italian culture.

In general there are e-learning courses ranging from all academic subjects into degree programs. There are e-learning history courses mainly in the degree programs of Cultural Heritage and Italian Language and Literature. These aren’t really different from a traditional history course except in two points:

1. A short web text or a video lesson to ensure the synthesis and homogeneity of the course must accompany each teaching unit.
2. The cooperation of several different voices in the construction of a single course. Ancient or medieval, or modern or contemporary history course is made by 5-10 scholars, each responsible of one or more didactic unit for the theme which the scholar is specialized in.

Degree programs

Consorzio Nettuno (Neptune Consortium, Network for University Everywhere). Lessons are broadcasted by public TV networks or by satellite, and only recently by Internet also.

CARID (Centro di Ateneo per la Ricerca, l'Innovazione Didattica e l'Istruzione a Distanza, Ferrara University):
virtual university; own platform. The teaching model is based on the synchronous communication among teachers, tutors and students. (carid@unife.it)

Universita’ Telematica Guglielmo Marconi:
Virtual University; video lessons in the web

ICoN - Italian Culture on the Net.
Consortium of 24 Italian universities. It offers a degree program in Italian Language and Culture for foreigners and two independent courses of Italian language for foreigners and Written Italian for professional purposes. The teaching model is asynchronous. Teaching materials are delivered in the web and organized in single courses; each course is divided into 8-10 didactic units, formed by several lessons which consist mainly of short electronic texts and interactive texts. There are supporting tools also, such as newsletters and forums. ICoN doesn’t use a LMS platform but all materials are spread in the web (www.italicon.it).

The status of the resources for Italian history teachers in Internet

Beside CliohNet, which is going to become one of the largest portals of teaching history materials in the world, for Medieval History is pointed out Reti Medievali (www. retimedievali.it). Reti Medievali aims at establishing itself as an on-line community of medieval scholars, beyond specialist fields, and aims at encouraging institutions and individuals in experimenting and exploring through a common action the potential of digital and multimedia languages.

It proposes itself as a high-level scientific and informative web site and aims at offering texts, working tools and reflections on historiography in accordance with the present trends in Italian research and teaching practice. Texts and materials published by RM are peer-reviewed by the Editorial Board. Access is entirely free.

Enrica Salvatori


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