The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on education was both unprecedented and widespread in education history, impacting almost every student and teacher in the world (UNICEF 2020; United Nations 2020). The COVID emergency has forced Universities all over the world to switch, wherever possible, teaching activities online giving life to the largest digitization experiment ever carried out in history.
This article deals with the experience of the Ca' Foscari University and, more specifically, with an interdisciplinary course of study, the Minor in Artistic Management, which in its 2020 and 2021 editions was held thanks to educational processes based on a fully digital relationship between students and teachers. This Minor is an interdisciplinary thematic path that Ca' Foscari University proposes as complementary to the traditional degree course, to allow students to enrich their training path with transversal skills, useful both for continuing their education and for the working world. In the specific case of the Minor in Artistic Management we are talking about a didactic path that, in itself, has the aim of conveying highly innovative contents and skills: here students can learn and put into practice those techniques of artistic expression that are strategic for the business world, and by these more and more requests, to strengthen their storytelling and to introduce and increase the cultural variable in the workplace. The Minor faces in the practice the issue of the growing focus of companies on those managerial figures trained with transversal skills and able to develop both creative and technical knowledge, that facilitate the mediation between business logics, purely market-oriented, and the contemporary art languages, vehicles for the interpretation of the human reality in its various facets.
The aim of the interdisciplinary course, in the editions considered, was to design an ad hoc narrative dedicated to a company interpreted thanks to the intersection of different languages: narration (writing), images (video), speech and body (theater); these intersectoral expressive strategies were activated both for the benefit of the selected company and to enrich the educational and cultural background of students with highly practical-creative skills. Since a significant part of the lessons could only be conducted in laboratory form, as it included a concrete business storytelling activity, the teachers involved had to rethink (and in some cases to innovate) the course on the basis of the potential offered by the new digital tools, that have imposed a rethinking in terms of content, language, times and places, as well as the ways of interrelation (the educational ones between students and teachers and the social-cooperative ones between the students themselves). To better explore the topic, the following courses - that can be considered a truly case-studies - are presented and analyzed:
• Video Storytelling, academic year 2019-2020, taught by Prof. Raffaella Rivi, whose focus is: how to support and make available a teaching that, due to social distancing, would have been suspended?
• Theater for Management, 2020-2021 edition, by Prof. Carlo Presotto, who answers the following question: how to take advantage of the potential of digital applications to improve and enhance teaching with new teaching methods?
The first example refers to a laboratory course developed entirely through distance learning. The class was divided into small groups, each of which had the task of creating an original visual narrative with the purpose of interpreting, from an emotional perspective, the characteristics that made up the identity of the selected company to make it more attractive to young IT professionals. The interaction tool used, both to communicate with the company and in the various follow-up meetings between teacher and students, was Zoom. The Moodle platform, on the other hand, has been an excellent repository option for teaching materials. Both the creation of the storyboard and the following shooting and editing phase saw a strong coordination and a great cohesion among all the participants, with the support of the teacher of course, whom have found (and in some cases invented) the expedients to overcome the technical limits imposed by the context, in particular by the audio one, in order to optimize the quality of the remote footage. Although every type of interaction in the development of the outcome has been mediated by digital tools, this has not discouraged the class which has brought the human exchange as the value back to the center, to achieve a common goal. This has meant a great willingness by the teacher who, as she herself affirms, has become a "learning coach" able to stimulate the student's thinking through a continuous and constant teaching. In this setting the possibility to be always connected, together with the use of some assessment techniques (such as sharing feedback and making self-assessments of the state of the art of the project with advances and setbacks) have played a crucial role.
The second example always refers to one of the workshops of the Minor described, named Theater for Management, which in its 2021 edition has set up a teaching-learning model based on active pedagogical methodologies. The course aimed to collect different materials (videos, podcasts, images, etc.) to describe the selected company from a cognitive-emotional point of view. Although the in-person learning lessons were a feasible option, the teacher strongly wanted the introduction of an innovative technological working tool: the Izi Travel platform. This last is an open platform that allows everyone to create audio guides for free, thanks to the development of geo-localized route that connect the points of interest in the space while providing - at the same time - a description of their main characteristics. The ultimate aim of the introduction of this digital tool was the desire to create an environment that could multiply the level of experience of the final target, during the interaction with the platform, to get better know the selected company. The project was carried out by the students who worked, divided into groups, on the creation of various contents through different artistic-creative tools (company theater, storytelling and creative writing, video editing) using a blended modality.
These two university courses concretely exemplify the transition from an emergency teaching to an integrated digital one, whose central point is the normalization of environment and digital tools both in the pedagogical field and in the creation of the same project outcome, even once the safety distance requirement has lapsed. Education that takes over new technologies and traditional methods equips teachers and students with tools that can lead to a real innovation in the learning world; a multidimensionality that means the possibility of coexistence of different learning spaces and times. Digital content, learning objects, serious game, alternating reality game, digital sharing platforms, edutainment practices are increasingly becoming tools of a systematic and non-episodic experience of university teaching, one of its essential conditions, that drives teachers and students to subvert the classic logic of setting, relationship, communication and the very meaning of learning.