In Italy, schools are going through a phase of strong digital transition, not only as regards the teaching tools, but also in the administration and management, in the pedagogical and didactic fields, and of new languages and new skills. In particular, Scuola Futura (Future School) is the platform for the training of school staff (teachers, ATA, DSGA, DS staff), as part of the actions of the National Recovery and Resilience Plan (PNRR), Education Mission, with content and modules training divided into 3 thematic areas: Digital teaching, STEM and multilingualism, Territorial gaps.
Therefore, the urgency in Education and Training is not only about technologies, but also the epistemological and cultural dimension that require a series of paradigm shifts. At the centre of this process is certainly the teacher-student relationship, no longer centralized in the figure of the professor. STEM, STEAM and STREAM are acronyms that have in common the practical application of the disciplines they involve with a transdisciplinary approach: Science, Technology, Engineering, Literature, Art and Mathematics. But we must bear in mind that, unlike the pre-digital era, the fundamental question is no longer the simple access to a specific source of knowledge or a technique, but knowing how to read, understand, validate, interpret, re-elaborate and share the massive amount of information and data available through networked devices. As Domenico Quaranta (2022) states: “In the age of big data, quantity becomes quality; the production, distribution and use of contents cease to be a cultural fact and become an existential condition, one of the many ‘hyperobjects’ that define the Anthropocene”. Given these general considerations, the purpose of this type of innovative teaching is not learning as an end in itself, but the development of skills and competences that allow the use of knowledge in a collaborative way, for the achievement of a goal or to find the solution of a problem. It is a holistic vision of learning that places the student as a whole at the center of a complex process of assimilation and re-elaboration of contents, which prepares the individual to face the challenges of today’s society.
Personally, as a New Media Artist, and a scholar and explorer of the evolution of artistic languages from traditional media to those defined as “new”, in the context of the introduction of information technology, telematics, artificial intelligence and robotics in the art world, when I approached STEAM for the first time in 2015, it was love at first sight! An encounter that took place as part of the Maker Monday project promoted by BCU (Birmingham City University) in the United Kingdom, which led me to study and experiment with this branch of Education, until I founded the STEAM Atelier project in 2017 and became a STEAM educator and trainer recognized nationally and internationally, in 2023.
I observe the STEAM prototypes and educational kits, which include solutions for coding, robotics and digital manufacturing 4.0 and I see the legacies of many artists who since the early year of the XX century influence the technical development and the thinking of the new technologies and media that today we use in the palm of our hand with a smartphone. Furthermore, from the STEAM perspective, unfortunately sometimes tools are approached with automatism, without the research of personal or expressive solutions. “What we are experiencing appears to be a cultural crisis in which many areas of society lack words and images to give shape to the present, stuck in a re-enactment of sources and references from a not so recent past” (Claudia Alonzo, 2022).
The History of Art inherent New Media is part of our cultural heritage and can enrich this didactics with stories, techniques and philosophical visions capable of nourishing the processes of construction of identities and imaginaries of the digital native generations. I study the STEAM tools and methods and I see the possibility to give light to the New Media Art History works into the schools, contributing to overcome the issue of technology obsolescence, both hardware and software, which limits the use of these experiences to institutional circuits such as museums, academies and archives. To don’t let the Art lose its centrality in the reflection about society, artists, critics and teachers can collaborate for the school, and into the school, by writing the ‘manuals of Future Art’.
Following these reflections, I have dedicated my first online course for secondary school teachers of the Italian national territory to “STEAM practices and tools for Art Education”, where I identify four macro-topics by linking them to some artists from the History of Italian Art: Lucio Fontana who in the 1950s created virtual spaces with analogical media; Mario Canali, the Italian painter who counts the greatest number of technological devices used as a pioneer; the collective Studio Azzurro for the poetry, direction and critical sense of their works that mark the development of multimedia; finally, the ‘ecosystemic communication’ of Salvatore Iaconesi and Oriana Persico, which through ‘datapoietic’ works and performances introduces us into new existential scenarios based on the relationship with data and computation. The learning process aims to develop transdisciplinary thinking in the didactic design field of artistic subjects, and will drawn inspiration from the artistic experiences analysed. It is divided into four three-hour meetings, during which the participants, individually or organized into subgroups, create a didactic prototype for art with low-cost and/or recycled material and open source electronics. The course was activated within the network of trainers of the Brindisi STEAM Pole coordinated by the IISS Ettore Majorana of Brindisi, also promoter of the Innova Day which will be held on the 4 and 5 February 2023, with more than 3000 teachers and school principals who will be able to choose from 125 free in presence workshops.
Visit the course description page (registration deadline 23 January 2023)
STEAM practices and tools for art education:
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Innova Day at IISS Ettore Majorana Brindisi, workshop: The geodesic dome as a didactic tool for transdisciplinary art and thinking:
 Domenica Quaranta, “Il video nell’era del platform capitalism, social media, big data e cinema database”, in (a cura di) Cosetta Saba, Valentina Valentini “Videoarte in Italia, Il Video rende felici”, Roma, 2022, Treccani, p.556.
 Claudia Alonzo, Dentro le immagini: l’esperienza immersiva, in (a cura di) Cosetta Saba, Valentina Valentini “Videoarte in Italia, Il Video rende felici”, Roma, 2022, Treccani, p. 565.