From Researching Virtual Initiatives in Education
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(for UNINETTUNO case study see UNINETTUNO - case study)
NETTUNO (Consorzio NETTUNO, Network per L'Universita Ovunque) was - according to its promotional brocure - the first "telematic and television university in Europe", using 2 satellite TV channels and a "Didactical web portal".
Consorzio NETTUNO was established in 1992 and it included three universities and five companies, in compliance with the law on didactic university rules of the 19 November 1990, n° 341, thanks to which in Italy distance university can count on an institutional reference framework. This law gives the university the opportunity to develop a new training model that is characterised by the implementation of first-level university diploma and also by the enrichment of the training processes modes. Actually, article 11, paragraph 3 provides that distance teaching is included among the distinctive didactic modes used by the universities.
The model proposed by the Italian law is grounded on the idea that distance teaching should be based on the universities’ peculiar functions with the aim of enhancing their higher education offer in framework which is inspired by autonomy and which is open to the flexibility of the initiatives undertaken. The choice is motivated by the belief that university, an istitution basically aimed at advanced level education, can be enabled to play a still crucial role also as it regards the new training needs and the new environment where they are deemed to develop. Consorzio NETTUNO, as organisational and structural mode, adopted the form of a consortium of traditional universities and companies and, as teaching-learning system, was based on a massive use of communication technologies already mature and available on the market at low costs.
The consortium included three universiteis and five companies. In only three years it passed from three to twenty-four universities: Politecnico di Bari, Politecnico di Milano, Politecnico di Torino an the Universities of L'Aquila, Bologna, Camerino, Cassino, Florence, Genoa, Lecce, Milan, Modena, Naples "Federico II", Seconda Università of Naples, Padua, Parma, Pisa, Rome Tor Vergata, Salerno, Siena, Turin, Trento, Trieste, Viterbo "La Tuscia" and companies such as: Telecom Italia, IRI, RAI, CONFINDUSTRIA and also eleven Technological Poles.
The consortium’s general objectives were to:
More specifically, Consorzio NETTUNO aims at realising a distance teaching model refuting the ideas of mass production and industrialisation of the training process and valuing the availability of equal educational opportunities to all types of students. The educational practice is characterised by the high quality of the teaching that is delivered by the best university teachers who are fully responsible for the distance teaching-learning process since distance teaching is actually based on traditional universities’ institutional functions. Distance university students enrol to the same course, broadly speaking, they follow the same programme, they are supported by the same teachers, the take the same exams and get the same title as the face-to-face students. It is the same teaching body that usually share their time between internal and external students. As it regards distance students the professors perform all the tasks envisaged for in-campus students besides other ones that are more specifically related to the distance education teacher. It is up to the distance professor to design and prepare the lessons to be delivered on the screen and prepare the materials supplementing the videolesson, such as texts and software, answers to the questions asked to the distance students, exercises made both on a face-to-face basis and telematically using ISDN networks and INTERNET connections, assessments and final exams. All these activities are coordinate among professors belonging not to only one university, but of all universities members of the consortium. This is surely the most innovative component since it allows to involve the professors that are most open to innovate and the best teachers into a collegial educational project. From the organisational and structural viewpoint, the project upon which Consorzio NETTUNO is based relies on structures that, year after year, keep on evolving their model and organisation.
These structures are: the National Centre, the Technological Poles, the Workstations “at home”, the University Technological Centres and the Supplying Universities. Beside individual students, distance education courses are addressed to companies’ staff and in particular to those operatine in the fields of telecommunications, computer science, consumer electronics who are located in geographical areas that are close to the partner universities’s sites. This way companies have the possibility not only to meet the educational needs and/or retraining needs of their staff, but also to offer their staff the chance to continue their university studies to get an academic title that could be used also for carreer development purposes. At their own sites or in premises located in the nearby, companies can set up an area equipped to receive, video record, archive and consult remotely delivered courses supplied with computer/telematic workstations to comunicate with the Universities and Technological Poles. Currently, three technological Poles have been set up at the following companies’ sites: ALENIA, in Naples, ILVA , in Taranto, IVECO, in Turin.
See the Re.ViCa Italy country report for more information.
The NETTUNO web site is at http://www.consorzionettuno.it/nettuno/brochure/eng.htm