Thursday 7 May
As we know, with a government decree our country has introduced changes in the lockdown since May 4; the hope is that they will be the basis for further elements of collective reassurance.
I would like to thank you all once again for your understanding of the inevitable difficulties caused by the pandemic. I also thank all the Colleagues of the Faculty for their willingness to help, as well as the entire administrative structure of Università Cattolica, which has always guaranteed adequate support and help.
With this letter I would like to highlight two issues:
- As we approach the end of the second semester, I would like to point out that remote teaching has developed satisfactorily for students and professors in general. Faculty members have identified the methods of working which, with the appropriate adjustments, have been evaluated as the most appropriate for the proposal of the scientific-cultural content and for the completion of the teaching programmes.
The professors adopted methods of synchronous and/or asynchronous interaction (webinars, videolessons, forums, e-mails, etc.) and used more or less sophisticated technological tools. Both of them will presumably accompany us in the near future (the so called phases 3 and 4), a time when it is hoped that the emergency situation can end and the teaching, study and research activity can resume at a regular pace. In this regard, it seems appropriate to draw everyone's attention to the fact that, with high probability, university teaching will necessarily have to involve some changes: the emergency situation cannot be cancelled, starting again as if nothing had happened. For this reason the Faculty of Education, like all the other Faculties, encouraged by our Magnificent Rector, is reflecting on possible paths of renewal to be undertaken, in order to be more and more in line with today's times and to the unprecedented educational-formative needs that have emerged.
- Next June, the summer exam session will begin. While I recommend you to consult the notices published on the home page of the Catholic University, containing precise organizational and procedural indications, I would like to briefly recall some general information:
- all the scheduled dates of the calls are confirmed; any changes will be promptly communicated;
- the exams will be held remotely, in oral and/or written form, according to the indications that each teacher will communicate by notice on the official page of the course, on Blackboard by email approximately within the month of May. In any case, the exams will take place, as far as possible, in a form similar to the traditional one and the required preparation will be the same;
- the platforms used for the exams will be Teams (for the oral exams and for the video surveillance of the writings) and Blackboard (for the administration of tests and open questions concerning the written exams);
- in order to take the exam you should have the necessary equipment (PC, software, internet connection, etc.) and technical skills. With regard to the latter, I would like to point out that the University regularly provides training in the use of the various platforms, as per the communication published on the UC website. I advise everyone to take advantage of these training moments, in order to familiarise themselves with the various platforms for the exam;
- by registering for the exam, to be taken at the time and in the manner provided, the following procedures will be implemented:
- three days before the date of the call, the student will receive an automatic email confirmation of registration for the exam;
- a few days before the roll call, the Commission will send the call containing the link to the Teams exam session to the students' @icatt.it email. In case of non-receipt of the convocation email, it is necessary to contact the teacher;
- during the exam, the professor will be able to constantly view all the students, as well as request to view the rooms where the exam is taking place with the webcam;
- in the case of a large number of students enrolled in the exams, the Commission may form several sub-commissions that can examine the students in parallel.
I would recommend everyone to register for the exam only and exclusively when they are certain that they will take part in the written and/or oral test. This is in order to allow the teachers to plan the organization of the exam in the best way possible, i.e. the time schedule of the students' invitations.
I also recommend that, at least two days before the call, you communicate your decision not to take the exam. This virtuous behaviour will certainly help the good progress of the organizational phase.
Finally, I would like to remind you that the provisions of the Code of Ethics apply to the remote examination (with particular reference to art. 35 "Training commitment and relations with the teaching staff"). I trust that, even during the exams, you will be able to demonstrate your competence and proper conduct.
In the hope that you will do a great job, I wish you a good time at work, encouraging you to seek, in the critical situation that you have been given to live, useful elements to face with greater competence and renewed enthusiasm the future that expects you.
Monday 7 April
I hope that you and your families are doing well. As you know, this quarantine has been extended. However, there seems to be hopeful evidence that a slow, but progressive recovery is on the way. We still wait and hope that the efforts that we are all making and will continue to make will soon help us to return to our everyday life.
Focusing on our academic activities, I believe that the situation is progressing in a satisfactory way. Both you and your professors have shown great enthusiasm in understanding the peculiarities of this moment and in your attempts to deal with the difficulties. Our Course Coordinators, with whom I am in contact on a daily basis, confirmed that our remote lectures are progressing successfully and that you are participating actively. I sincerely thank you for this. Any difficulties in planning, any communication issue, poor connection services are due to an objective fact: as professors, within a few days we have been asked to familiarize ourselves with new interactive methods for the development of the teaching activity. For this very reason, I would like to thank you once again for your understanding of the inevitable problems/limitations that may have emerged, and perhaps will continue to emerge, in teaching.
Concerning exams, some Faculties have already experimented with the "remote" exams. In the coming weeks, the teachers of the Faculty of Education will evaluate these experiences in order to make the most of them and to prepare suitable tools for the summer session of exams. All ofthe above, as I said at the beginning of this email, while we continue to hope that we can soon return to our normal activities.
It is important to consider that as professors, led by our Magnificent Rector Franco Anelli and supported by our Administrative and Technical Staff, we are doing our best to ensure the high level of quality in the educational services that are delivered by Università Cattolica.
We want to show that we are a community truly committed to work with enthusiasm, despite the difficulties. Every one of us sincerely hopes that the sad and often distressing situation that we are experiencing will come to an end in the shortest possible time and that we will return to our teaching activities "in presence". It is a hope supported by the data of the latest statistical surveys which, although not yet fully reassuring, push us to have confidence for the future.
A few days ago, a colleague informed me about a recent publication with Vita e Pensiero by José Tolentino Mendonça:Il poteredellasperanza. Mani chesostengonol’anima del mondo (The power of hope. Hands that support the world’s soul) I wish to share with you this reflection: «It seems a paradox, but this time also represents an opportunity for us to meet again. Confined to isolation, perhaps we can better understand what it means to be a community in the most profound way. Our lives do not depend solely on us and our choices: we are all in each other's hands, we all experience how vital interdependence is, a web of recognition and gift, respect and solidarity, autonomy and relationship. Everyone hopes in each other and is positively stimulated to do their part. Everyone counts» (pp. 10-11)
These are words that prompt us to detect, from the problematic nature of the present, signs of hope concerning the meaning of our living together, of our participation in the various situations and events, of our contribution to improving the space, albeit a small one, in which we are living. As scholars of educational problems, therefore of the processes of improving personal and communal existence, we cannot help but adhere to Tolentino's plea that is filled with new meaning if we consider the issues of our own life in these days, and especially as the Holy Easter is approaching.
To all of you and to your families a sincere wish of serenity and good health.
My Best Wishes
Monday 16 March
Unfortunately, this health crisis is still ongoing. Every day we wait for the political and institutional representatives, through the various media, to announce the downward phase of the contagion situation. Until now it has been a vain wait. For this very reason, I appeal to all of us to act in the best possible way, so that the opportunities for coronavirus to spread can be limited as much as possible.
As you may have noticed, on social media, this serious situation we are experiencing is often faced by some with irony, with concern and with humour. I think, however, we must pay attention, above all, to the many messages which, as bearers of hope, invite us to reconsider our model of life. For my part, I think it is my duty to emphasise that, as scholars of educational issues and/or as educators, we cannot lose our optimism. We are obliged to cultivate in ourselves and in others the conviction that we can find appropriate solutions to the current drama. I invite you to have and instill courage. Difficult situations must be faced, working to find solutions that are respectful of each individual and of his or her belongings. Educators, pedagogues, teachers, like all those with educational responsibility, cannot lose optimism and hope.
On behalf of all the professors and lectures of the Faculty of Education I would like to point out that we miss you. We do miss the dialogue and confrontation that we can have in a classroom, during programmed meetings, common reflections. However, I think I can say that we above all miss your enthusiasm, your willingness to live with others, your desire to grow together with others. The new teaching methods with which in the space of very few days, we have had to become familiar with, to reformulate the teaching proposal, as teachers, do not fill the void of real interaction. Nevertheless, these modalities allow us to keep our dialogue open. The individual teachers, helped by Technical Staff and Colleagues, recorded the lessons using Blackboard and Blackboard Collaborate Ultra. To date, 175 teachers of the Faculty of Education have adopted the new teaching methods: 289 recorded video-lectures, 182 live lectures, 471 sessions of Bb Collaborate. I confess that I have been particularly impressed by your level of participation in video lectures, forums, webinar discussions, live lectures, meetings mediated by more or less commented slides, etc.. Like professors and lecturers, all of you have had to find new ways of taking part in the university experience. I hope you will soon be able to "regain possession" of Largo Gemelli, of the cloisters of Bramante, of St. Ambrogio ... On everything, I encourage you to reflect on the fact that, situations like the one we are experiencing, requires us to cultivate a new and more mature approach to the university experience. Our readiness to deal with change and to respond to it in a rational but also creative way.
I will now give some final reflections on frontal lectures, supplementary activities, exams and graduation, aware of your concerns in this regard. - As Faculty of Education, if the emergency will stop, in the second half of May we will make up for the two weeks of lessons lost in February. In the coming days, together with the Coordinators of the Study Courses, we will define some solutions to recover lab/workshop activities and internship activities: it will be my care and the individual Coordinators of the Study Courses will keep you updated. To this end, I recommend you to frequently check your e-mail on icatt address, because it is the tool we can use to reach you all. - With regard to exam calls and gradutation sessions to be held in the extraordinary session in April, I can reassure you: the UCSC, while respecting the needs of the individual Faculties, is making choices to allow you to take the tests. Soon (if it has not already been sent) you will receive a document indicating how the tests will be carried out remotely. I believe that exam calls and graduation sessions throughout the month of April will have to be held in this way. - For those who have had or are having impediments in the realization of their thesis work, the UCSC is thinking of organizing a further graduation session, after the one in April, or to ensure that the summer ones are at zero cost for students graduating in April
Best wishes to you by all the professors and lectures of the Faculty of Education.
Thursday, 5 March
In the light of the persistent health emergency and the consequent suspension of lectures at least until 15 March and based on what indicated by our Rector, together with the Coordinators of the Study Programmes, we have considered it advisable to provide a teaching plan based on online activities. Through this plan we intend to respond to your needs in this critical stage, putting you in the condition to continue your course of study without losing any of the university experience and minimising the inconvenience.
Everyone knows how important it is for us the centrality of the individual and the teaching experience. This implies, in our organizational choices, to reserve the right space for teaching and educational interaction. This is why we have preferred to ponder the teaching model to offer without abandoning ourselves to easy solutions that would probably have required exceptions from the anthropological and pedagogical approach in which we recognise ourselves.
The teaching model we have designed for you tries to keep together the need to work remotely and the quality of the interaction, by balancing self-learning work and synchronous and asynchronous moments of confrontation with your professors and lectures.
The official working space for everyone will be our Blackboard platform, which many of you already know because it is used by several professors and lectures to support classroom teaching in presence.
Organisation of teaching activities
The outline of the weekly activity of each course is as follows:
- 1 hour of content proposal (it can have two different forms: 1) a video lesson or 2) a series of PowerPoint slides with synchronized audio. In both cases the University recognizes the equivalence of 45' of teaching in presence with 20' of video lessons or series of commented slides);
- 1 hour of individual study (a micro-activity - reading a song, carrying out an exercise, web search, analysis of a document or video stimulus, etc.). - to be carried out on the basis of the indications provided by the teacher);
- 1 hour of discussion (through a synchronous webinar in Blackboard Collaborations); alternatively, 1 hour of asynchronous interaction in Blackboard forums.
This means that each of you
- first attend a video lesson (or scroll through a Powerpoint);
- then carry out an activity, identifying problems and questions to ask the teacher during a webinar (or within a forum);
- finally participate in a webinar (or forum) by interacting with the professor or lecturer
In the next few hours, the Coordinators of the individual Study Programmes will provide you with more detailed information via Blackboard, focusing on the specific teaching characteristics of each
single programme. I trust in your collaboration and availability. The proposal we make to you can represent, I believe, a challenge to be accepted in order to learn new ways of interaction and teaching/learning. In a Faculty of Education, you can understand it well, technology represents an important professional scenario to develop and include in your cultural background.
To all of you a sincere thanks and a wish for good time at work
Wednesday, March 4
I also point out, in line with the communication of the Rector Franco Anelli, that the national emergency situation continues to be critical. This does not allow us to have precise news about the resumption of teaching activity. The hope is that on 9 Monday March they can resume their lessons. If this is not the case, immediate communication will be given on the UC website. With regard to the two scenarios mentioned above, I would like to point out that Università Cattolica, under the guidance of our Rector, with the permanent involvement of the Deans of the various Faculties and of the Administrative Representatives, is committed to promoting the development of the technology in the field of education.
To all of you a sincere thanks and a wish for good time at work Luigi Pati
Wednesday, March 4
I too observe, along the lines of the communication of our Rector Franco Anelli, that the national emergency situation continues to be critical. This does not allow us to have precise news about the resumption of teaching activity.
The hope is that on Monday 9 March they can resume their lessons. If this is not the case, immediate communication will be given on the UC website.
With regard to the two scenarios mentioned above, I would like to point out that Università Cattolica under the guidance of our Rector, with the permanent involvement of the Deans of the various Faculties and of the Administrative Representatives, is committed to outlining methods of action that will make it possible to deal with the emergency situation in the best possible way, whether the teaching activity resumes on 9 March or is extended.
The various Faculties are reflecting on this matter on the basis of their academic calendar. The reflection is supported by the conviction that it is not conceivable to abandon what, in our University, mainly qualifies the teaching-learning processes, the research activity, the professional training paths: interpersonal communication. It is this relational modality that allows professors and students to go beyond the simple exchange and accumulation of information, to the benefit of mutual, harmonious, integral human growth.
In this light, all the Faculties of Università Cattolica and among them the Faculty of Education, are intent on confirming, as far as possible and without hesitation teaching "in presence" as far as recovery, replacement and integrative activities are concerned.
By the end of the current week we will communicate when it will be allowed to resume teaching activities. On that occasion we will clarify whether the recovery of the suspended lessons can take place "in presence", using the whole month of May; whether the first three days of Holy Week (6-8 April) and the last four days of the following one (15-18 April) can be used for the recovery of the workshop activities, which at the moment are foreseen as holiday days.
For students living in the "red zones", who will not be able to be present in the classroom when the lessons are resumed, educational tools that can be used remotely, such as video recordings of lessons, commented slides or other. In any case, I would like to point out that any publication of supplementary didactic materials will be provided by our Blackboard platform.
We would like to remind you once again that all the University's decision-making bodies are committed to finding suitable solutions to deal with any scenario that may arise in the coming weeks and to ensure the regular performance of all teaching activities in the manner that the situation will allow us, and I thank you for your attention and I wish you all good time at work.