Excerpt

The project is aimed at creating forms of teaching and learning specifically addressed to long term-hospitalized pupils. These are educational activities dedicated to pupils who, due to heavy and prolonged treatment protocols or specific pathologies, cannot participate in ordinary day-by-day school activities in the schools they belong to. The inititives forecasts the use of innovative tools and methodology largely based on ICT.

Narrative, origins and objectives of the initiative

What kind of project is this? Please give a short description (summary) of it.

The project is aimed at creating forms of teaching and learning specifically addressed to hospitalized pupils These are educational activities dedicated to hospitalized pupils  who cannot participate in ordinary day-by-day school activities of the school they belong to.

The initiatives forecasts the use of innovative tools and methodology largely based on ICT.

The main objectives of the Teaching Group was the production of special learning units, functional to the educational needs and the development of technological tools that allow hospitalized children and young people to participate via videoconferencing to the activities of their classes (useful objective not only for didactic purposes but also from the psychological point of view).

Another objective was to create a software (Electronic Class Register) that allowed the teachers of the hospital school to maintain the connections with the schools of origin/affiliated, with the aim to include the student from the previous learning environment and to facilitate continuity of the educational path.

Afterwards, the Educational Group decided that the developed tools and the learning units could be useful in all schools and not only in the hospital school, and could be very useful in promoting scientific culture. Therefore, the Educational Group developed a new platform called FARE, as "Free Architecture for Remote Education", accessible at the address http://fare.polito.it. From the FARE experience, another platform specifically designed for hosting MOOCs was created (http://openedx.polito.it). These MOOCs include learning games to be used online/ofline or mobile (Android).

Please tell us why, in general, this project is considered a successful one?

The number of hospital sections that use the class register has increased, as wells as the learning content on the platform. Many teachers use FARE to build individualized teaching units, which respond to the specific needs (in time and manner) of their students.

Size/scope of the intervention for the low secondary school:

School year 2015 / 2016

- 171 students including 17 foreigners - lower secondary school

School year 2016/2017

- 139 students including 15 foreigners - lower secondary school

And why would you consider it a grass-roots initiative?

The initiative originated from the collaboration between:

  1. the lower secondary school “Istituto Comprensivo Amedeo Peyron" in Turin which is responsible for the management of the "School in Hospital" at the regional level for the Italian Ministry of Education, Universities and Research (MIUR)
  2. the Department of Automatic and Computer Science of the Polytechnic of Turin
  3. the Educational Group: a group of researchers and teachers, coordinated by the Professor of the Polytechnic of Turin, which operates free of charge with the aim of producing software and open source educational material available to schools.

What challenges needed to be solved in this project?

The project was designed for hospitalized students. For them, it is possible to assume a long period away from the school that has negative consequences on their personality development and their cultural background, but also on their relational skills and future reintegration into society and the world of work. The need for inclusion of hospitalized students is therefore particularly important and urgent.

Is this initiative based on any particular theoretical framework? Which one?

  1. Digital tools

The Teacher Education for Inclusion Agency (TE4I), 2009–2012 defines the focus of an inclusive education system: “The ultimate vision for inclusive education systems is to ensure that all learners of any age are provided with meaningful, high-quality educational opportunities in their local community, alongside their friends and peers.” (European Agency, 2015, http://www.european-agency.org/agency-projects/TeacherEducation-for-Inclusion).  We strongly believe the use of modern technology can help to make education more accessible for students who would otherwise not be able to attend the lessons.

 

  1. Open education

Open education is a philosophy about the way people should produce, share, and build on knowledge. Supporters of open education believe everyone in the world should have access to high-quality educational experiences and resources, and they strive to eliminate barriers (e.g. high monetary costs, outdated or obsolete technology) to reach this goal.

 

  1. Open Educational Resources

The term OER (Open Educational Resources) first came to use in 2002 at a conference hosted by UNESCO. Participants at that forum defined OER as: “The open provision of educational resources, enabled by information and communication technologies, for consultation, use and adaptation by a community of users for non-commercial purposes.”

The currently most used definition of OER is: “Open Educational Resources are digitised materials offered freely and openly for educators, students and self-learners to use and re-use for teaching, learning and research.” To further clarify this, OER is said to include:

  • Learning Content: full courses, material, content modules, learning objects, collections and journals.
  • Tools: software to support the development, use, re-use and delivery of learning content including searching and organization of content, content and learning management systems, content development tools, and online learning communities.
  • Implementation resources: Intellectual property licenses to promote open publishing of materials, design principles of best practice, and localization of content.

 

(Appendix) Is your intervention standing on its own or is it a part of a bigger and more holistic approach?

The project is one of the initiatives promoted over the years aimed at creating forms of teaching and learning appropriate to particular situations, such as those of hospitalized students.

Please describe the group(s) intended as beneficiaries of this initiative

Why has this group (have these groups) been chosen?

The project was designed for hospitalized students in Turin. For them, it is possible to assume a long period away from the school that has negative consequences on their personality development and their cultural background, but also on their relational skills and future reintegration into society and the world of work. The need for inclusion of hospitalized students is therefore particularly important and urgent.

The students who attend the Hospital school (a service offered by the Italian Ministry of Education, Universities and Research) are resident in the local area but the percentage of students coming from other regions of Italy and also from other countries (South America and Eastern Europe) is increasing.

The age of the students is between 3 and 18 years.

Could you please tell us something about the relative size of the (of each) target group, within the school/university population, region and/or country?

We can compare data with the overall student population in Italy: for the school year 2015/16 there were 7.056.779 students. The project, therefore, accommodates 0.77% of the entire student population.

Which social characteristics are taken into account and what is the geographical area covered?

The students who attend the Hospital school are resident in the local area but the percentage of students coming from other regions of Italy and also from other countries (South America and Eastern Europe) is increasing. The age of the students is between 3 and 18 years.

Still to this day a disease has a strong impact on students social inclusion and is also considered a severe stigma.

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On which level is the project implemented?

The project is implemented at local level. The FARE platform and its learning units are broadly available.

Please describe the political and socio-economic factors that you believe have been important enablers for your initiative

Did the initiative have political support?

The initiative refers to the legislation "National School and Hospital Education and Home Service" and the regional law (http://www.istruzione.it/web/istruzione/normativa-della-scuola-in-ospedale).

The initiative did not have political support. The development has been economically supported over the years by “I.C. Amedeo Peyron”.

How did it fit with local, regional or national policies?

The project responds to the need to share the educational path between family, school of belonging and hospital school.

The electronic register is used today in many hospital sections. Started as an experimentation, it spread to Piedmont (where today it is used by all the hospital sections) to other sections in Italy. At the institutional level, the intention is to use to a single electronic register.

One of the key factors for the success of this initiative is the national regulatory framework for open source software within the Public Administration. The Code for Digital Administration (Cad) states that the public administrations release all the code they own under a free license, putting it free to other administrations who want to customize and use it. Guidelines were also published to define the processes to be followed in detail (https://lg-acquisizione-e-riuso-software-per-la-pa.readthedocs.io/it/latest/ ).

Who are the stakeholders supporting the initiative?

The technological aspects of the project are coordinated by the Department of Automation and Computer Science (DAUIN) of the Polytechnic of Turin (http://www.dauin.polito.it/en/, http://www.dauin.polito.it/it/).

The secondary lower school “Istituto Comprensivo Amedeo Peyron", connected to a separate section operating at the "Ospedale Infantile Regina Margherita" Children's Hospital in Turin (http://www.icpeyron.gov.it/), economically supported the implementation of the “Electronic Register” over the years.

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Are there particular demographic changes present that are influencing the project?

In the recent years, there has been an increase in foreign students, who have particular needs for inclusion, both for the greater physical and cultural distance from their country of origin and for the frequent linguistic difficulties.

What is the institutional strategy and culture of the (educational) organization?

The School in the Hospital is a service offered by the Italian Ministry of Education, Universities and Research. It allows the continuity of studies, guarantees the hospitalized children and teens the right to know and learn in hospital, despite the disease. In many cases, it allows children and their families to continue to hope, to believe and invest in the future. The main purpose of the activities carried out with school-aged patients, who are hospitalized, is to help them to undertake a cognitive, emotional and didactic journey that allows them to maintain links with their school life environment.

There are 167 hospital sections in Italy, involving 765 teachers. In the 2015-2016 school year, 62,204 students bene ted from the service, including 4,400 students of the higher secondary school.

The School in the Hospital is, therefore, one of the points of excellence of the national education system and is recognized and appreciated in the health sector as an integral part of the therapeutic program.[ https://www.miur.gov.it/scuola-in-ospedale-e-istruzione-domiciliare link is in Italian ]

In the 2016/17 school year, the service was promoted by 58.049 students, and 245 hospital sections were activated with a total of 784 teachers

To what extent does the initiative have an influence on institutional policy (or potential influence) of the (educational) organization?

The project responds to the need to share the educational path between family, school of belonging and hospital school. The electronic register is used today in many hospital sections. Started as an experimentation, it spread to Piedmont (where today it is used by all the hospital sections) to other sections in Italy. At the institutional level, the intention is to use to a single electronic register for the hospital school.

(Appendix) Is there public support for your initiative and the issue it addresses?

Regarding the development of the electronic class register for the hospital school, the “I.C. Amedeo Peyron” school gave an economic contribution.

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(Appendix) What other factors do you think have been important for the success of this initiative?

One of the key factors for the success of this initiative is the national regulatory framework for open source software within the Public Administration. The Code for Digital Administration (Cad) states that the public administrations release all the code they own under a free license, putting it free to other administrations who want to customize and use it. Guidelines were also published to de ne the processes to be followed in detail (https://lg-acquisizione-e-riuso-software-per-la-pa.readthedocs.io/it/latest/ )

Please describe the overall initiative design and the methods and tools used to reach the goals

Please describe the specific activities carried out.

A. The F.A.R.E. Platform

  1. FARE, the Free Architecture for Remote Education, is first and foremost a large archive, mainly based on interactive tools of elementary scientific or didactic units such as documents, handouts and educational books (which can be printed or transformed into ebooks for free), video lessons, video-conferences, educational video games, remote laboratory experiences, and virtual visits to museums. This archive is aimed to promote a scientific culture in society and in schools.
  2. The platform is equipped with tools to create information, training and teaching courses, re-using the educational material already available in the archive. Using such tools, the teachers of the school in the hospital will be able to create the so-called "LO-learning objects"(short learning units, that can be defined as "digital self-contained and reusable entity, with a clear educational purpose, with editable components: content, learning activities and elements of context") geared to the particular needs of children, whether in hospital or not (see https://fare.polito.it/guida-libro).
  3. The platform’s architecture has been designed with a modular approach to support every step of the learner's learning process. For example, one of these modules allows lectures to be held via video conference, using shared video or other shared teaching aids, depending on the different needs: schools, schools in hospital, decentralized school premises, or wide-spread conferences. Another module, also already integrated within FARE, provides a series of useful tools for teaching programming in Python, also tailored for non-professionals in a user-friendly environment, especially designed for education. All the tools and the scientific and educational contents are free. Actually, the source code of the entire architecture is protected by permissive licenses, such as the GNU GPL, while the contents are also protected by licenses that allow and encourage reuse, such as the "Creative Commons" . In particular, textbooks (including multimedia) are free, and they can be printed or used on different devices (PC, Tablet, E-reader).
  4. Moreover, the F.A.R.E platform allows to possibily of activating at any time, an interactive remote video lesson from any classroom or by any teacher to any sick student, even before the hospitalization. In the platform there is a specific session dedicated to free learning objects for the hospital school.

 

B. The electronic register for the hospital school sections

The electronic register is a software, accessible online, that allows to manage and browse the school data relative to the students attending the hospital school or the  school at home, in collaboration with the school they belong to.

The documents can be uploaded and downloaded at any time in order to have a complete overview of the educational activities carried out during the hospital stay and allowing real-time communication between the hospital, the school of belonging and the family. The system keeps track of all the different periods spent in the hospital and provides reports with the didactic activities carried out in the various subjects.

C. Remote activities: the Robot Lab

Inside the Hospital school in Torino, the Lego robots were experimented in collaboration with the Polytechnic to learn the programming of the robots and consolidate the knowledge of mathematics. This experimentation included:

  • Robot construction: construction of a LEGO robot in the hospital lessons' rooms.
  • Computer programming: once the robot was built, it was used for teaching the basics of the computer programming (both basic exercises and complex problems, such as the use of sensors, the emission of sounds, light or moving objects). This activity took place in the hospital lessons' rooms.
  • Remote control of the robot: methods and tools have been developed to allow remote access to a laboratory hosted at the Polytechnic for hospitalized children or decentralized schools.

In the remote laboratory, there was a camera that allowed students to see the robot's movements with manual commands or through instruction programming. In the laboratory, there was a tutor who followed all the activities of the pupils who remotely guided the robot. The students created a program and tested it with the robot, displaying its movements and operation through the camera. The program was downloaded to an online repository with protected access and the tutor downloaded the program at fixed times and transmitted it via Bluetooth to the robot. The student was able to write several programs and verify their functioning. The laboratory tutor helped the pupil to solve computer programming problems by communicating through a chat or video conference system.

The new version of the module, currently being tested, allows to completely automate the interaction with the remote robot. These innovations allow you to repeat the experiments several times within a session without needing human intervention on the laboratory side, greatly reducing the load for the staff. In addition, a scheduling system has been integrated to provide the user with the possibility to book a time slot and to experiment without interruption at that time. This tool is integrated with the Python programming module illustrated above and therefore allows to have a complete programming experience, from the realization of the source code to the visualization of the result, all in a single webpage.

What were the key roles (teacher, student, management team etc.) within the project?

The software was developed by the Educational Group within the DAUIN Department of the Turin Polytechnic, with the coordination of prof. Meo. A group of teachers from the hospital school (head Prof. Aliberti) collaborated to develop the electronic class register.

The materials included in the portal are contributions of many teachers.

 

What ideas, tools, theories, models, methodology (etc.) have been used to reach the goals?

1. OER
The term Open Educational Resources (OER) was coined at UNESCO’s 2002 Forum on Open Courseware and designates “teaching, learning and research materials in any medium, digital or otherwise, that reside in the public domain or have been released under an open license that permits no-cost access, use, adaptation and redistribution by others with no or limited restrictions. Open licensing is built within the existing framework of intellectual property rights as defined by relevant international conventions and respects the authorship of the work”.
“At the heart of the movement toward open educational resources is the simple and powerful idea that the world’s knowledge is a public good and that technology in general and the Worldwide Web in particular provide an extraordinary opportunity for everyone to share, use, and reuse it. OER are the parts of that knowledge that comprise the fundamental components of education: content and tools for teaching, learning, and knowledge development.”
The Promise of Open Educational Resources, by Marshall S. Smith and Catherine M. Casserly, September 1, 2006.
The terms "open content" and "open educational resources" describe any work that is licensed in a manner that provides users with free and perpetual permission to engage in the 5R activities:
Retain - the right to make, own, and control copies of the content (e.g., download, duplicate, store, and manage)
Reuse - the right to use the content in a wide range of ways (e.g., in a class, in a study group, on a website, in a video)
Revise - the right to adapt, adjust, modify, or alter the content itself (e.g., translate the content into another language)
Remix - the right to combine the original or revised content with other material to create something new (e.g., incorporate the content into a mashup)
Redistribute - the right to share copies of the original content, revisions, or remixes with others (e.g., give a copy of the content to a friend).

2. METHODOLOGY
The school in the hospital is an integral part of the therapeutic process and responds to a constitutionally guaranteed right; moreover, it contributes to the maintenance and psycho-physical recovery of the pupils, keeping as close as possible the pupil's relationships with his scholastic world and the system of social and friendly relations deriving from it.
The methodology of the school in hospital aims to:
- develop essential knowledge and consolidate disciplinary and transverse skills
- teach how to retrieve information in a problematic situation, increasing the skills needed to build a method of study
- allow the deepening of topics of particular interest of the students
- rationalize teaching/learning times through the use of digital technologies
- favour educational models that allow students to be the creator of their products
- be as close as possible to the school daily life.

What are the final revenues of the project?

1. Many materials have been produced: many conferences and lectures are available, as well as the basic technologies for their use. The platform hosts:
- over 250 films of popular conferences.
- many educational materials and textbooks for the secondary school of mathematics, science, physics, Latin, biology.
- two computer textbooks for primary and secondary schools.
- various teaching materials for teaching Science in schools of all levels
- other scientific and educational material.

2. The electronic  register is used by all the hospital sections of Piedmont.

Please describe if your project ensured its sustainability

If so, how did you ensure the short-term impact of the project?

Most of the work was done voluntarily.

The development of the Electronic Class Register was supported financially by the "Amedeo Peyron" school. The computer infrastructure was hosted by Polytechnic and Top-Ix, a public company that supports the launch of innovative projects and research.

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And how did you ensure the long-term impact of the project?

In order to extend the use of the electronic class register and open education contents, infrastructures are necessary (space to host resources), but above all investments are needed for paying staff who develop the code. No long-term impact is assured.

Has your project been replicated elsewhere?

It has been replicated using commercial software (not open source).

Please tell us about the resources used in this initiative

What was the budget for the initiative?

  1. FARE was carried out without any cost, entirely by volunteers who made their work and materials available for free
  2. The development of the electronic class register was supported by the “I.C. Amedeo Peyron” school. The server on which the electronic register is installed is hosted in TOP-IX thanks to an agreement between the Polytechnic of Turin and TOP-IX.

How much did the initiative depend on volunteers?

90%.

How were the costs perceived by the public/the sector/other stakeholders?

The efforts made by the volunteers covered almost all the activities, so there were no particular difficulties.

To what extent did the initiative achieve its objectives?

Please describe the evidence to support the success of your initiative.

The number of hospital sections that use the electronic register has increased, as wells as the learning content on the platform. Many teachers use FARE to build individualized teaching units, which respond to the specific needs (in time and manner) of their students.

Did the intervention lead to any unintended (positive) outcomes?

No

What indicators (quantitative and qualitative) have you measured to demonstrate success?

Quantitative indicators:

  • number of hospital schools hosted on the register
  • number of students
  • number of courses/materials available on FARE

Qualitative indicators:

  • FARE Platform supports the possibility of building an individualized educational path for students (https://fare.polito.it/guida-libro)
  • functions offered to teachers by the Electronic register, in particular the authomatic statistics of use.

(Appendix) How did you evaluate/monitor this intervention?

As far as the Electronic register is concerned, we monitored its use over the years and the request for new functionalities.

As far as the FARE platform is concerned we monitored its use over the years and the amount of free materials updated.