Meet the Association Study Center City of Foligno

The Association Study Center City of Foligno (www.cstudifoligno.it) is a training agency active since the year 2000 in the territory of the Municipality of Foligno. The Association is a non-profit private organization whose funding members are the Municipality of Foligno, the Province of Perugia, the Umbria Region, the University of Perugia and the Foundation of the local bank.

CSF has worked with and for different target groups, always starting from the assumption that a high-quality education and training are fundamental to the whole realization of the individual. “Education for all”, in our case, has meant in particular the realization of training courses and other formative interventions for disadvantaged groups. Unemployment, handicap, gender and racial discrimination, from one side, have been dismantled with adaptability, guidance and social inclusion, from the other side.

Our main activity is the constant research of local, national and community funds, for two main reasons:

1)  It answers to the needs and problems of people who live in Foligno and in the surrounding areas

2)  It connects people with a wider educational and working context, with the aim to favor an intercultural comparison and dialogue for the development of the person and of the society in general

We constantly try to deepen a real transnational cooperation in the field of adult education, increase awareness of European cooperation and opportunities and help young adults in finding their role in the everyday life.

We have a long-term experience in European projects, both as a coordinating and as a partner organization.

With regards to adult learners, we benefit from the European Social Fund for the delivery of continuous and permanent training intervention. Moreover, starting from 2010, we have implemented, both as project coordinator and partner, several Grundtvig multilateral projects (LLP) and Erasmus+ KA2 Strategic partnerships for Adults.

All these activities allowed us to strengthen our connection with other local and international organizations that provide services for the elders, such as:

–           The University of the Third Age of Foligno

–           CPIA: regional center for adult education

–           EPALE: Electronic Platform for Adult Learning in Europe 

–           Some sectorial associations, for the promotion of the project activities and the involvement of average but committed seniors, such as:

  • AUSER (http://www.auserumbria.it/) Association for the self-management of services and solidarity
  • ANTEAS (http://www.anteasfoligno.it/home/) National Association of Senior Citizens Active for Solidarity
  • ANCESCAO (http://www.ancescao.it/) National Association of Social Centers, Elders Committees and Gardens
  1. What is the background of CSF in open and free technologies?

CSF, having being involved in numerous EU projects, has collaborated with European partners in the development of open source technologies and OERs. The resources developed range from methodologies, and OERs to platform and software.

Although the organization itself cannot be considered as a pioneer nor a driver in the field of the FLOSS movement, CSF has always been committed in the use or development of open resources. Its staff has always paid attention to open and free technologies, attempting to make the widest use possible both for their daily work and for training the target groups involved in CSF courses. For instance, most of the courses offered by CSF on basic digital skills are implemented using software such as Open office and when dealing with video editing almost all the staff members are able to use Da Vinci Resolve.

What are CSF’s highlights in projects or initiatives in open culture or free software? How is CSF contributing to the open movement?

As mentioned above, CSF has implemented several projects and initiatives that, although not specifically focused on open culture, have developed diverse open and free tools and methodology. Here below we can mention some of them that have a link with adult education.

1)         “CAFE in Europe – Civic Awareness For Elders in Europe” was a LLP Grundtvig Multilateral project leaded by the Municipality of Foligno in collaboration with the Association of Civil Protection LARES, which involved other five European organizations. The main objective was to identify a common European training strategy in order to sensitize elderly people about their possible role of civil protection volunteers.

2)         VINTAGE (Valorisation of INnovative Technologies for AGing in Europe) is a LLP Grundtvig Multilateral project. (www.vintageproject.eu).  The project is an integrated action which aimed to face the digital exclusion of this target group by placing the elder in the center of the contemporary digital world. The impact of the project activities was ensured by the transversal involvement of different target groups, such as elderly people, voluntary associations, adult education institutions, public authorities, SMEs and other private bodies. We already implemented a well-structured dissemination plan both at local, national and international level, including numerous exploitation activities in order to put the bases for the sustainability of the project. In fact, starting from last March 2015, VINTAGE has been replicated at regional level with the financial supports of the Umbria Region within the framework of the “Regional Agenda for active ageing and social inclusion”.

3)         CINAGE project (Cinema for Active Ageing) another GRUNDTVIG multilateral (www.cinageproject.eu) started in 2013 and finished in 2015, focused on the active involvement of the seniors through an intergenerational training approach for the analysis of the European cinema production related to six areas of Active Ageing

4)         BRIGHTS a KA3 ERASMUS+ project that aims to promote Global Citizenship Education (GCE) in formal and non-formal Educational contexts with the help of Digital Storytelling (DS) techniques, leading to more socially inclusive education and training policies and practices in Europe. Its objectives are:

– Increase and improve teachers’ and trainers’ capacity to implement GCE with young people using DS;

– Empower young people in the acquisition and development of social, civic and intercultural competences as well as critical thinking, media literacy, creativity and digital skills through the production of digital stories on Global Citizenship.

– Develop of a European online community on GCE able to sustain project results and amplify their impact.

5)         DCDS a KA3 ERASMUS+ project aimed at developing an innovative multilingual Digital Competences Development System (DCDS) and use it to provide non-formal training to low-skilled adults in the non-formal education sector in different European countries. The System consists of:

  • A methodology for the development of digital competences and related transversal competences of adults
  • An online environment that implements the methodology

Moreover, from the beginning of the 2019 CSF has inaugurated a new digital hub open and free to all the citizens. The “DigiPass” is part of the Agenda Digitale per l’Umbria (Digital Agenda for Umbria), a strategic development plan for regional digitization. This center, equipped with training rooms, help desk and free internet access, is hosted in the premises of CSF and it has been widely used for training and promotional activities about CSF projects and initiatives.

  • What challenges has CSF encountered with integrating free software and open source in the training of low-skills adults?

The findings from the desk research for the OPEN-AE project underlined that there are different issues with integrating free software and open source on different levels but these issues are not related to specific target groups (i.e. low skilled adults) but rather to structural and cultural barriers training providers have to face. First of all, in Italy one can witness a lack of support to the FLOSS movement at policy and economic level. For instance, CSF, being funded by public entities, should be supported and orientated toward the use of free software and open source but in fact in the last years this support failed (see for example articles 68 and 69 of the “Digital Administration Code” that impose the preferential adoption of internally developed software solutions, and the choice of Free Software instead of proprietary solutions, on public administrations that never effectively took place). Secondly, many trainers are used to work with proprietary resources and tools because those are related to the competences the market requires and consequently when working they are naturally pushed to refer to those tools and resources. In addition to that, it exists a cultural barrier in Italy that speaks against the development and spread of free software and open source technologies and resources: the main cause being the allegedly shortage in quality of FLOSS alternatives in comparison with proprietary solutions.

  • What does CSF hope for the outcomes of the Open-AE project?

With the two years’ work on the Open-AE project, CSF is expecting first of all to gain extensive and deeper knowledge about free software and open source and the whole FLOSS movement. In this way, the whole organization could lead by example other organizations, starting with the ones involved in Open-AE such as adult training providers and then moving to public organizations such as The University of Perugia and the Municipality of Foligno, both funders of the CSF. In would be really great if in the public offices of CSF, the staff would be able to fully switch to open and free technologies (or at least partially). We reckon it would be a great message to send out the public audience the fact that a whole organization is using free and open tools and software (as far as we know it does not exist such an organization in our area, this would also mean presenting CSF as a pioneering organization at regional level). For the daily tasks performed daily by CSF (trainings, management, administration, etc.) there are several good solutions that could be used instead of proprietary software currently employed.

Secondly, the piloting activities will be a huge opportunity to involve other training providers and trainers, to have them approach the free and open technologies world and consequently to influence their own organizations in future decisions.

Finally, on crucial aspect that is indeed also one of the main objectives of the Open-AE: the upskill of trainers through a deeper understanding of free and open technologies and resources and the application of tools in their work. In this way, CSF trainers who attended the training in Barcelona and trainers, who will be attending the piloting course, will benefit from the Open-AE activities creating greater awareness for themselves and their own organizations.

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