Teaching computer literacy for the knowledge society

Logo University of FlorenceThis method has been developed and tested during academic years 2001/02 to 2009/10 at the Faculty of Medicine of Florence.

The architecture of this method derives from the particular context in which today we have to teach about computer and web:

  • Fast changes in technology
  • Consequent evolution (worldwide) of basic courses: computer Literacy -> digital literacy -> networked literacy
  • Disproportion of entry competencies in IT, within the classroom
  • Nature of digital natives generation
  • Need for a global vision in problem solving and in providing solutions; need to work on the Italian-English language barrier that, unfortunately, still exists
  • Critics of conventional academic teaching method, where the student is isolated in a teacher-focused learning process, one way, one-size-fits-all (Don Tapscott & Anthony Williams)

The theoretical foundations of the course are related to the following authors:

  • Constructivism as described by Seymour Papert, about learn by doing
  • Connectivism by George Siemens and Stephen Downes, about network perception and cooperation
  • The idea of “zone of proximal development” of Lev Vygotsky, about the large disproportion of entry competencies in IT
  • The idea of Communities of Practice by Etienne Wenger, about cooperative learning
  • Mooc (Massively Open Online Courses) by David Wiley about OER (Open Educational Resources) and George Siemens & Stephen Downes about Connectivism and Connective Knowledge


Four hours of lectures to instruct the class about this method.

A two-hour seminar on issues related to cooperation. Over the past five years they have been held with the participation of outside guests.

A total of 24 hour of presence in the lab, 3 days per week (Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays 10:30 – 12:30), for 4 weeks. The teacher is available to those who need direct assistance in the use of online tools or for special insights. Within these 24 hours, students can ask for lectures or seminars for deepening or clarification about specific topics.

Students work online together with the teacher, building a network of blogs which we call blogroom. Once the blogroom is set up, the teacher delivers a series of assignments, at least 8. The assignments include online activities, reading assigned texts, searching for resources, writing texts.

In the remaining weeks until the end of the semester, the teacher is available to students in the lab once a week for three hours.

The teacher communicates with students through the network of blogs, some social network, email with 6/7 availability and response time of less than 48 hours, exceptions aside.

Training materials

  • Contents about computer literacy, written by the teacher and available on the Internet
  • Texts written by the teacher on its blog
  • Video tutorials prepared by the teacher and embedded in the same blog
  • Eventually, Open Educational Resources on the Internet

All the materials prepared by the teacher are freely available online for anyone and are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribuzione-Condividi allo stesso modo 2.5 Italia License.


The evaluation takes place through the tracking of activities and a final talk.

The following papers describe various aspects of this teaching method

  1. Fini, A. ; Formiconi, A. , Day, A. ; Pirruccello, N. S. ; Spadavecchia, E; Zibordi, E. Open Educational Resources and virtual communities: reflections on experience Je-LKS (2008), 4 (1) :101-109
  2. Flower M.G., Formiconi A.R. Teaching Learning Mutare: the blog-Class goes on stage!
  3. Je-LKS (2008), 4 (3) :51-59
  4. Formiconi A.R. Cultivating connections, L. Fiorini (Ed.) “Cittadinanzadigitale”, Quaderni di Bolzano Pedagogic Institute’s documentation, Junior Editions, Azzano S. Paolo (BG), 2009. Also available in http://www.scribd.com/doc/12859285/Coltivare-Le-Connessioni.
  5. Formiconi A. R., The blogoclasse as a community of practice … generations. In M. G. Fiore (eds.), “Becoming Digital: reflections on the anthropological and experiences in place,” Form@re, No. 62, 2009. URL: http://formare.erickson.it/archivio/maggio_09/4_FORMICONI.html
  6. Formiconi A. R., Method for the study of the dynamics of a network of blogoclasse. In F. Bruni (ed.), The Learning Blog: Reality in the way of exploration “, Form@re, No. 67, 2010. URL: http://formare.erickson.it/wordpress/?p=4484
  7. Formiconi AR, Social networks in education, in F. Bruni (ed.), Form@re, 2011, in press.


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