Panel I.02 — Digitalisation processes in Italian schools: lessons from the pandemic and vision for the future against social inequalities
Convenors Domenico Carbone (University of Eastern Piedmont, Italy); Cristina Calvi (University of Eastern Piedmont, Italy)
Keywords digital education, distance learning, platformisation, datafication
The European digital education policies can be summarised in two categories: first-generation digital education policies that focused on the expansion of infrastructure and equipment and the second-generation policies regards the promotion of students’ digital competences starting with the increase of teachers’ digital skills. The scientific reflection on this topic can be summarised by referring to three levels of analysis. At a “macro” level, reflection focused on the role of digitisation within the broader process of reforming the education systems of European countries, which, albeit with differences related to national specificities, was largely inspired by the neo-liberal principles of New Public Management (Gunter et al. 2016). In the regulatory scenario associated with these reform processes, digitisation would play an important role in fostering processes of platformisation, datafication and soft privatisation of schools (Cone et al. 2022) as a consequence of the delegation by the state to private actors, and in particular to large IT multinationals, in the organisation, management and programming of digital learning environments, particularly in Italy (Grimaldi e Serpieri, 2013). At a meso level, the reflection on digitisation has concerned, above all, the impact of this process on the organisation of the school system as a whole: in this case, the debate is polarised between those who see in digitisation processes a contribution to the improvement of organisational processes (Wetston and Bain 2020) and those who highlight the contradictory effects on the working conditions of school personnel and the consequent conflictual dynamics that may result (Selwyn e Facer, 2013). At the micro level, the scientific literature has focused more attention by focusing its analysis, mainly, on two topics: the degree of use and educational areas of application of digital technologies by teachers and the relationship between digitisation and student learning. The issue of inequalities linked to the digitisation of the “school system” cuts across all levels of analysis.
In Italy, the actions undertaken over the past few years, through the digital school plans, have contributed to equipping the Italian school system with a technological infrastructure that has been, for the most part, able to react promptly to the problems linked to the pandemic crisis, guaranteeing the participation of a very large majority of the student population in educational activities. On the other hand, however, DaD’s experience underlines how the dissemination of digital didactics can also be linked to processes of social disadvantage.
This panel intends to gather theoretical contributions and/or empirical research adopting quantitative and/or qualitative methods that are able to grasp the effects of digitisation processes on the Italian education system in a critical manner, paying attention to the issue of social inequalities.
In particular, abstracts investigating the consequences of digitisation processes in Italian schools are welcome:
– at the micro level, through the analysis of students’ and teachers’ experiences;
– at meso level, studying changes at the level of organisational processes within the school;
– at macro level, focusing on platformisation, datafication and soft privatisation processes in the field of education.