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From digitization to smart experience: technology as a medium for learning

An interview with Raffaele Tozzi Fontana, professor of mechatronics subjects at ITI Pino Hensemberger Institute.

Technology is becoming increasingly impactful, pervading every aspect of our daily lives and transforming the way we work, connect and learn. In schools today, effective adoption and integration are becoming increasingly crucial to prepare students for the challenges of the 21st century.

Indeed, technology has the potential to revolutionize the entire educational system, offering new ways of learning, promoting innovation and broadening students’ horizons. Indeed, classrooms have been transformed into digital learning spaces where students can access a wide range of resources, interactive tools and collaborative platforms, fostering personalized learning, creativity and active student participation. In addition, digitization gives young minds instant access to information and knowledge from around the world, preparing them for a rapidly changing marketplace; the ability to research, analyze and synthesize information, virtual collaboration and problem solving have become indispensable for life and work in the modern world.

Raffaele Tozzi Fontana, a senior lecturer in mechatronics subjects at ITI Pino Hensemberger Institute, shares with us the exciting challenges he has faced and the interesting opportunities he has seized during his educational journey.

Raphael, could you explain to us what approach you have taken to training your students?

Of course! Our school offers a wide range of technical skills, ranging from computer science and mechanics to biology and applied sciences. Our goal is to provide students with technical training in cross-curricular subjects so that they have a wide range of marketable skills.

Da poco abbiamo aperto un nuovo laboratorio di robotica grazie alla collaborazione con aziende locali, come EdiM del gruppo Bosch, che ci hanno donato dei robot che ci hanno supportato nella programmazione. Qui abbiamo avuto modo di dimostrare agli studenti che la robotica ha senso solo se integrata con altre tecnologie, come i sensori per la sicurezza. Abbiamo avuto modo di collaborare anche con diverse realtà: società di sicurezza, come la SICK, aziende leader nella produzione di componenti e dispositivi elettronici ed elettromeccanici, come la Finder,  e aziende di smart home automation, come la Sonoff. Questo ci ha permesso di aprire un laboratorio di innovazione per la gestione dell’automazione domestica, come le luci, le tapparelle, le finestre smart e l’integrazione con l’intelligenza artificiale. La collaborazione con le aziende del territorio è per noi essenziale per garantire un’ampia gamma di competenze tecniche e coltivare un approccio pratico, che faciliti le scelte dei giovani studenti circa il futuro. 

At the end of their studies, pupils must make an important choice; it is important for them to experiment to understand what possible careers lie ahead. In addition, we want them to understand that the world is evolving fast and education is an ongoing process that goes far beyond high school graduation. In order to facilitate this process, in recent years we have opted for an increasingly practical and applied emphasis.

How are these synergies between schools and businesses promoted and implemented? What strategies are adopted by schools and businesses to create an effective and fruitful connection?

The synergy established between schools and companies is a process that involves close cooperation with various local businesses. Its main goal is to provide our students with hands-on learning opportunities and enable them to acquire skills in real-world settings. To create this synergy, the first step was to establish contacts and relationships with local businesses. We engaged in dialogues with several companies in the industry that were showing interest in collaborating with us and that were of interest to our students.

Through the school-to-work alternation paths, our students have the opportunity to carry out internships at these companies and work directly in the field, gaining practical experience and putting into practice the theoretical knowledge learned in school. After these periods are over, we are often asked for technical profiles for possible recruitment, thus an opportunity is given to students for full-time work once they finish their studies.

This synergy between school and business therefore offers several advantages. First, students have the opportunity to gain firsthand knowledge of the world of work and put into practice the skills acquired during their studies. This makes the learning process more concrete and emphasizes the practical application of theoretical skills. In addition, working closely with companies gives students a real perspective of the demands of the job market and the skills required. This can help them make more informed decisions about their future academic and career path.

On the other hand, the companies involved benefit from this collaboration in several ways. They can directly observe students in action and assess their skills, enabling them to identify and recruit promising talent. In addition, participating in the training of young talent helps to create a closer connection between the educational institution and the business world, fostering the exchange of knowledge and resources.

Raphael, what led you to opt for the inclusion of lit control solutions in your laboratory?

The desire to present new technological solutions to our students led us to evaluate these types of solutions, we wanted to be able to manage the lab gateway in a smart way and show the students how it works, and we decided to turn to you, Sofia part of ISEO.

We developed a lab access management device, which we installed at the beginning of the school year. However, we did not stop at just the technological aspect; we also included a cross-curricular lesson on the various disciplines, including mechanical, electrical, and computer information management.

The access management device is based on advanced technologies such as biometric recognition, virtual credentials, and the use of smart badges. Authorized students and staff can register in the system and obtain a badge or register their fingerprints to access the lab safely and smoothly.

This solution has brought several benefits to our school: first, it has greatly simplified the process of accessing the lab, eliminating the need for time-consuming and resource-intensive manual procedures; it has also made the student experience more modern and engaging. What’s more, it has allowed us to continue to explore new technological solutions and offer a state-of-the-art learning environment that prepares students for the challenges of the modern world.

Pictured is Raffaele Tozzi Fontana, professor of mechatronics subjects at the ITI Pino Hensemberger Institute.

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