A stop to all school activities scheduled from now until 3rd April 2020: this is one of the important measures put in place by the Italian Government regarding the containment and management of the pandemic emergency due to COVID-19.
Today’s digital tools mean that teachers and students can go online, allowing educational courses to continue. It is from this perspective that, as soon as Tuesday 3rd March, Accademia del Lusso chose to guarantee lessons through live streaming, a method which allows for real-time interaction between teachers and students.
The first non-negotiable requirement was to protect our students’ health; at the same time, the school was committed to not abandoning them but continuing to guarantee their right to study.
Distance learning satisfies the need to guarantee total safety, avoiding close contact; it also guarantees the continuity of courses, minimizing the impact of the epidemic on the usual education process.
The goal is therefore not to cancel interaction or relationships but to guarantee these in a safe way, maintaining the sense of community that every school must have as part of its mission.
After a first phase aimed at getting used to and breaking in the system, following the positive results from this, teachers were invited to deliver their lessons no longer from the classrooms, which were already naturally empty, but remotely, eliminating their movements too and therefore supporting the whole concept of smart working.
As I’ve already said, all sessions are delivered live to guarantee real-time interaction between teachers and students: mutual interaction is precious both in the context of lectures, through which the teacher transmits key knowledge to students, and regarding the subsequent phase of presenting the skills they have acquired. In fact, the tools used allow for the sharing not only of the teaching materials but also of the students’ work, allowing for the possibility of reviewing projects and working as a group.
Together with many colleagues, I too am living this new experience and I would like to share some thoughts.
I have been part of the teaching staff at Accademia del Lusso for five years: I chose to add teaching to my activities for a specific reason, which is to share what I know about a profession that I love immensely (publishing and fashion communication), an increasingly complex and multifaceted profession which is also enriched thanks to the opportunities offered by the web.
I therefore welcome this moment as yet another opportunity for growth, for teachers and students, and I welcome it as a challenge.
What is the challenge of teaching and learning in the era of the Coronavirus?
Let’s start with the word that I have carefully chosen – ‘challenge’ – since I firmly believe that in all this we must not see difficulties or limits, but opportunities: the goal must be to transform an objective problem, dictated by the current context, into an opportunity.
Should we be afraid of this challenge? The answer is no; on the contrary, it must stimulate us because – in my opinion – a teacher should be a person and a professional who, aware of a complex situation, pushes towards positivity, beauty, the future.
“In the future, physical proximity will not always be possible, while we will have more and more ways to work and keep in touch from a distance.” Stefano Boeri, the president of the Triennale di Milano, spoke these words. In an interview with La Repubblica, Boeri thus motivated the intention of the Milanese museum to focus on the online.
If a museum such as this – one of the most prestigious and authoritative Italian institutions in the field of culture – makes such a strong and significant choice, we must all reflect on the fact that we are currently facing a passage of historical significance: even once we’ve overcome the emergency, e-learning, online learning, online tutoring, live streaming or on demand content will continue to be not only tools to avoid wasting time, but they will also represent a general lifestyle change we will have to deal with. At Accademia del Lusso we are pleased to be dealing with this already.
Digital innovation and digital transformation, processes that have often been subject to criticism and controversy, are actually allies and provide us with powerful tools. The web allows us today to get out of the necessary isolation to which we are called: it is up to us to lead innovation and transformation in the direction we want.
I will conclude by sharing another concept that I like very much: culture must build bridges, not walls.
Fashion narrates habits, behaviours, preferences of the individual and of whole groups of people; it therefore affects numerous areas – social, historical, geographic, ideological, artistic – and it can be fully included among the multiple variations that culture takes on.
Even fashion, therefore, must contribute to building bridges that today are virtual and that, one day, will also become physical again.
Let’s make sure we’re prepared.