Video Practice and Vocational Orienteering: An Italian Case Study

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION AND CONTEXT

In Italy universities have gained autonomy in stages. The first stage dealt with administrative, financial and accounting aspects: the public (state) and private university institutions have had to manage their own budgets. The tasks of the Ministry of Education are allocation of funds, monitoring and evaluation: common general criteria and goals are defined at a national level for the various courses. In 1999 the "Bologna Process" established that the ultimate aim was to build a European Higher Education Area in which staff and students can move with ease and have a just recognition of their qualifications. This overall goal is reflected in the six main goals defined in the 'Bologna Declaration'. In particular, a common frame of three levels based on the outcome was defined: Bachelor, Master and Doctorate. Today, in Italy the system is now essentially based on two main cycles: a first cycle (3 years), relevant to the labor market and a second cycle (2 years), requiring the completion of the first cycle.

Multimedia University Courses began in Italy about eight years ago, and the University of Udine has been one of the first universities to organize a Multimedia Course and one of the first to face this reform. At present, our Multimedia Sciences and Technologies undergraduate courses take place in the Pordenone campus and this BA Degree is (since 2004) followed by an MA in "Languages and Technologies of New Media".

In Italy there is a strong division (as in many other fields e.g. journalism) between short-term market-led technical training and academy-driven education. There are certainly many differences between vocational training and academic courses. The differences include which role is given to technical skills immediately useful for jobs, and knowledge-based and long-term abilities. Being an academic course, we stress the importance of scientific, historic, cultural cognition and awareness. We encourage students to use their creativity and a critical attitude by the use of a theoretical framework when practicing. But many of our students often look for the easiest way to begin to work and ask for a more technical kind of training. They often ask for "how to do" courses, especially lessons on software.

Vocational outcomes are not easy to define: the job market is complex and changes very quickly. New technologies and convergence have swept away traditional boundaries among broadcasting, the web and other media. The complex job market often requires a multi-skill type of education which is able to adapt in a very fast-changing professional arena. Furthermore, Italy doesn't have as complex a multimedia and broadcast job market as the UK or the USA. Because companies are smaller, their level of specialization is lower and the need to know how to perform different tasks and functions is higher.

In our Multimedia Sciences and Technologies course we try to encourage partnership with workplaces. Work placement is compulsory for our course and training periods last about 250 hours. Students of the third year are invited to choose from a list of several multimedia and audiovisual jobs in local and national companies.

THE "CENTRO DI ORIENTAMENTO" (COUNSELLING/GUIDANCE CENTER)

In Italy, counselling/guidance activities are organized by Regions, High Schools and Universities. Their task is to collect, produce, disseminate and exchange information about education, qualification and certification.

Information on education opportunities is made available mostly through printed materials. Our "Centro di orientamento" produces and diffuses brochures, booklets and guides concerning these issues. Furthermore, workshops, conferences and fairs are organized and visited. We use college catalogues, individual counselling/guidance sessions, Computerized career information sources, testing, University speakers in class, tours of post-secondary institutions, regularly scheduled group counselling/guidance sessions led by teachers, university--open--door-day and so on. …