Roberta Piazza, University of Catania, IT
With a Decree of March 12, the University of Catania (Italy) suspends all frontal teaching and replaces it with forms of distance teaching, through the use of the Microsoft Teams platform. At the same time, it suspends all laboratories and internship activities. The University allows, subsequently, to reactivate laboratories and traineeships, but only remotely. The Degree Course for Childhood Educators and Community Educators seeks to find solutions to remotely redesign the internship and professionalizing laboratory activities, which are mandatory for graduation. The degree program faces two main difficulties. Until then no internship and remote laboratory activities had been ever provided; all kindergartens and many community associations, where the students were doing their traineeship, had to stop activities due to the lockdown. The degree program decides to plan the remote activities, trying to keep alive the value of these activities for the creation of the professional identity of the students: activities that bring students directly into the world of work (under the guidance of tutors) (internship ) and which allow to experiment in a controlled environment (laboratory) the settings in which the early childhood educator and the community educator will work. As for the laboratories, the experimented organization allows to alternate moments in plenary with group moments, favoring small group work for students, who suffer from long isolation and who, thus, in virtual classrooms, find themselves collaborating and share experiences and sensations. External experts from the world of work, who had never experienced the use of the platform and / or distance learning methods, redesign the activities favoring as much as possible experiential activities for the students. Currently more than 300 students are successfully participating in virtual labs. It is more complex to organize the internship. In many degree courses in Italy, due to the closure of the structures and the lockdown, the internship is organized as a study and reflection activity, since it is impossible to access the educational structures. However, this organization reduces the value of the traineeship as an experiential practice. The degree course then decide to identify associations in the area that have managed to continue their activities remotely. With the few facilities available, activities are co-designed where trainee participate synchronously. Obviously, this entailed a redefinition of the path and tools that accompany the work of the trainees, who were asked to collect the evidence of their experiences in an e-portfolio. But above all, it allowed a more intense relationship between structures and universities. The often bureaucratic relationship between institutions and universities has turned into a collaborative relationship. In the relationship with the university, the educational associations saw the opportunity to rethink their practices; the university considered the meetings an opportunity to get closer to the needs of the entities. The managers of the institutions, the training tutors, the students, in virtual meetings, co-design the activities, defining more continuous moments of collaboration.
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