Reward via Telegram: a rewarding experience.

This morning I had the pleasure and honor of announcing the winning school of the second edition of the competition "Crowddreaming: young people co-create digital culture", which as States General of Innovation we have organized and supported as one of our contributions to the activities from the Digital Cultural Heritage, Arts & Humanities School. For those who are curious, all the works are visible or downloadable from one dedicated page on the DiCultHer School website.

With due congratulations to all the participating schools and, in particular, to the teachers and children of the Don Benigno Favre Middle School of the Mont Emilius 2 Scholastic Institution of Quart, Aosta who won the competition, I am writing this note because I am very happy with the little experiment we did in managing the announcement via Telegram.

From the beginning, the choice was made to impose a filter, offering support and managing communications exclusively through Telegram. The motivation is the desire to stimulate teachers to focus their attention on the tools through which students' digital activities take place and will increasingly take place: mobile devices. Smartphones and tablets are not a further step towards the portability of desktop personal computers born in the last decades of the twentieth century. Rather, they are new creatures of the 21st century, which are subject to substantially different paradigms of conception, functioning and communication. And as such they also tend to shape thinking differently. It therefore seemed appropriate to force a reflection in this direction. 

Telegram's imposition has had its ups and downs. Let's start with the second ones, actually from the second since there was only one: we lost about half of the subscribers. Not only for this reason certainly, but not wanting or knowing how to make this small effort has an impact. We expected it and upstream we had made a political choice: if we lived in a world with resources of time, money and skills, if not infinite, at least as abundant as we thought it was in the past, then we could perhaps agree to lower the level of challenge practically to zero and try to grow everyone at the same pace. It's a principle of egalitarianism that has its merits, even if the other side of the coin is that it ends up granting the longed-for ataraxia to those who don't want to do things for the most disparate reasons and instead demoralize those who would like to do things. However, in a dramatic situation in which financial resources are only a minimal fraction of what would be needed and the speed of change in the social and cognitive context is very high, resources must be concentrated where they have the greatest impact. And this impact-maximizing tipping point is undoubtedly found among educators who still have enthusiasm, a desire to experiment and to take up challenges. 

The other side of the coin was decidedly positive and gratifying. The surviving teachers participated with excellent attitude in the life of the project micro-community that was formed in the Telegram channel "#igiovanicocreano - La Città del Sole". Even those who had to get help from the kids to familiarize themselves with an instrument that was not in their area of confidence. Fast, immediate and punctual exchanges without the anxieties of the "arrives/doesn't arrive" now typical of e-mail and its communication which tends to the formality of the business letter.

The format of the "ceremony" for announcing the winners was particularly effective. We did everything in 40 minutes at an excellent pace thanks to the little trick of having prepared the main texts in advance. Copy&paste is a panacea in these situations. Using Telegram has removed the barriers to entry that tools like video conferencing often impose. Several schools were able to participate live and others were able to relive the event later by re-reading the texts. It would have been impossible to organize the same in presence. From what the feedback has been, I would say that both the teachers and the children enjoyed themselves: the "countdown" format of the top positions always works... the photos of the children that the teachers posted in real time testified to this as well as pleased us.

In conclusion, another small effective format born from SGI and that you can share with others. It won't be a Nobel Prize solution, but it works.

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