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Italy > ICT Usage in the School Italy > ICT Usage in the School

ICT is not taught as a separate subject within Italian schools (with the exception of some of the vocational secondary schools which fall outside the remit of the iTEC project). Individual subjects have responded differently to the adoption of ICT skills and competences within them. For example, within the mathematics curricula there is a considerable focus on ICT-based concepts and methods.

Nesler's study (Nesler, 2004) investigated the advantages of using ICT in the curriculum as well as its pedagogical limitations using a range of qualitative methods (including action research). Working with 1000 teachers and 3000 pupils in primary schools across Italy, the study found that:

  • ICT improves pupils' performance provided that software is used appropriately and coherently with the curriculum objectives;
  • ICT can offer meaningful opportunities for communication and cooperation;
  • ICT impact is affected by five key factors including the relationship between learning and internet cooperation, the availability of multimedia software for learning, school networks, and professional development for teachers and opportunities for multimedia education online.

Falcinelli's study (Falcinelli, 2006) worked with a smaller sample of around 260 pupils and 22 teachers (again in primary schools). Through a three phased program of research, the study found that better results are with ICT are achieved when:

  • More classes, and particularly pupils of different ages, are involved working together in ICT projects;
  • Teachers work together and share their experiences of using ICT;
  • ICT activities have been undertaken by within and outside the school;
  • A well-defined and specific time has been provided in the weekly schedule for using ICT.

The computer to pupil ratio within Italian primary schools is 1:14. Computers are located in ICT laboratories. Schools have a great deal of freedom in how they meet the demands and objectives of the national curriculum for ICT. At primary school, this is centred on the concept of digital literacy and there is a growing demand for specific educational quality software and more teaching training and support.

At the present time, 72% of Italian primary school teachers make use of computers in their classrooms. For these teachers, more use of the computers is made by the pupils (66%) rather than solely by the teacher (59%). There is a good integration of computers and the internet into traditional subjects or basic skills (e.g. reading and writing), teaching foreign languages and most other subjects in the curriculum (with around 80% of head teachers expressing agreement of the use of ICT in each of these areas). However, teachers make much greater use of offline materials (85%) rather than online materials.

Italian primary schools adopt a lower midfield position with regard to ICT usage and equipment when compared to other European countries. Whilst 63% of schools have access to the internet via a broadband connection, only 65% of schools have a website and only 7% of schools offer email to their pupils (European Schoolnet, 2009, p2).

Italian teachers within primary schools are amongst the most optimistic about the impact that ICT can make on the teaching and learning process. 90% of then agreed or strongly agreed with the statement that 'pupils are more motivated and attentive when computers and the internet are used in class' (European Schoolnet, 2009, p3). This places them at 6th (out of 27 countries) in terms of their optimism. Interestingly, Italian teachers are also the most vociferous in terms of their identification of potential barriers to the use of ICT in their schools, expressing dissatisfaction with both the internet connection speed and the level of equipment in their schools, alongside expressing their desire for between standards of technical maintenance and support (European Schoolnet, 2009, p4). Furthermore, whilst attitudes to ICT are generally very positive, 60% of teachers indicate a preference for traditional teaching approaches as they are believed to support greater interaction; ICT use in the classroom is still relatively low (Parigi & Rossi, 2010).