The objective of the Crocus project (CROss-CUltural Satellite services for immigrant communities in Europe) is to disseminate multimedia and interactive didactic units for first and second language learning and intercultural education via satellite to schools, cultural centres, libraries, training agencies and associations of immigrants.
This technology would guarantee the necessary flexibility to follow complex curricula in the best way, ensuring continuity in teaching, training, affection and emotional care for immigrant or refugee families children, both at Italian and European level.
Creating an integrated system of services for training/information and support of the children of immigrant communities, through joint planning with the communities and families. These services will be delivered through a satellite network based on the IPerSAT platform, with users in the Italian national territory, in Europe and in the immigrants countries of origin (where possible).
To set up an array of pilot services to encourage equal opportunities for success at school and in the society for ethnic minority students through:
- information tele-kiosk for school administrations and families of immigrant communities,
- certification of education credits,
- updating of the teachers and local workers on subjects relating to reception of immigrants,
- promoting the learning of Italian and the languages of the original countries,
- dissemination of intercultural contents and methodologies.
This year, over 120,000 students from ethnic minorities study in Italian schools, and this figure is destined to increase rapidly owing to two factors: the rising age limit for compulsory education and the growth of family reunion applications from immigrant or refugee families.
The major linguistic groups are the Arab speakers, the Albanian speakers, the Chinese speakers and the group that comes from former Yugoslavia.
The CROCUS project aims at developing a system which facilitates the social and school integration of migrant students, paying attention to provide them, their families, teachers, schools administrative staff with all the tools for a two-way communication in the language which they master most.
At present, the strategies adopted by schools, local authorities and associations, are often extremely expensive, slow and scarcely flexible. The materials already on the Internet and the multimedia tools are often uneven, cannot be adapted to the individual curricula, etc. The mission of CROCUS project is to standardise teaching modules which are complementary, flexible, and appropriate to the school curricula and to the school books, in a way functional to the European school systems, by using operating tools which can meet the variety of needs coming from the variety of users.
Once this system has been tested and tuned up, it could be transferred also to other contexts to provide fast and flexible services responding to the needs of communities which are often travelling and have difficulties in gaining access to services, in speaking languages and understanding the bureaucratic and administrative procedures.
A satellite network, based on the IPerSAT communication platform, will be implemented in order to test, to optimise and to evaluate a set of satellite multimedia services to launch in the market.The IPerSAT services are based on the Digital Video Broadcasting (DVB) standard world-wide deployed for the digital television and it allows the user to receive television programs and Internet high speed services with the same small antenna.
Multimedia applications over the Internet generate traffic that is essentially asymmetrical. Almost all-browsing traffic on the Internet implies far more data from the server to the end-user than in the opposite direction. This is especially true of multimedia applications. IPerSAT solves the problems with its asymmetrical transmission mode: the Internet queries are sent towards a standard modem connection and the answers are received via the high-speed satellite link.
The Pilot network will be structured in terms of 36 users stations connected to the CROCUS Service. The contents upload and update can be managed directly by the Contents Providers authorised through the FTP procedures.
The Crocus Project started the 20th of November 2000. The main components of the Project plan includes:
- Telecomumunications Platform Development
- Schools Environment Definition for immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers families children
- Pilot Preparation
- Pilot with pupils, teachers and schools administrative staff
- Consolidation and promotion
Contents of pilots offers:
Distance learning courses
- Refreshment programs production and updating
- Realisation of the WEB site and updating
- Production and adaptation of -kiosk contents
- Supporting pedagogical/informative material
Teachers and Support
- For teachers: methodology, certification, evaluation, etc.
- Bilingual tutors
- Kiosk operators
- Management of courses scheduling
The satellite operated service CROCUS is structured to be complementary to what the schools and the educational institutions offer in the field of multicultural school . Its aims are:
- To favour equal opportunities in education and school success
- To favour bilingualism among pupils of ethnic minority origin (second language learning and mother tongue maintenance)
To favour the diffusion of intercultural teaching methods.
CROCUS is a complex system that includes:
- A pupil section for the distance teaching to pupils from ethnic minority groups. The satellite- distributed lessons are integrated with text books, CD-Roms, videotapes, and web-distributed learning units. The system offers distance tutoring and distance learning during live broadcasting lessons.
- A telekiosk section that offers multilingual services to school administrations and families from ethnic minorities. The service facilitates communication between school and families regarding administrative procedures and immigration legislation.
A teacher section for the in-door training of teachers and other school staff in the field of intercultural teaching, multilingualism and the integration of foreign pupils in the school community.
The experimental phase of the Crocus project, completed in June 2002, has involved over 400 pupils from ethnic minorities, 30 schools and cultural centres in various regions of Italy from the South to the North and 3 Albanian schools. The schools included primary, middle and high schools, the centres included libraries, documentation centres, immigrant associations.
The pupils have received new lessons and exercises weekly and a tutor has followed up their progress e-mailing back remarks or integrating exercises, if any. The pupils have worked individually or in small groups, on their own or with the help of the school teacher, permanently connected with the tutors of the Crocus system for the courses of Italian as a second language and for the mother-tongue courses in which they had enrolled. Thanks to the Telekiosk section, the teachers and the rest of the staff have tested the information and documentary support services, helping the partners of the Crocus project tune it up and make it more functional and comprehensive.
With the start of the new school year 2002-2003, a new phase has started, with the promotion of the system so that it can be independently supported from a financial point of view. The start-up of the complete service is scheduled to take place early in 2003, as soon as a considerable number of schools and centres will have joined. At present, the whole portal is being upgraded, in order to make it more easily surfable, to have a clearer understanding of the sections which are free and those which need subscription, to highlight what can be used via the Internet and which sections need a satellite platform.
Moreover, upgrading and revision of courses and of teaching and information materials available in the portal are under way, as well as an enlargement of the offer in terms of linguistic aspects and contents.
The schools and the other cultural centres can subscribe to the system, according to a price list based on the number of courses, scheduled live sessions, the number of pupils to be tutored, the duration of the period of subscription.
Before subscribing, people can visit the extensive demo available on the website www.crocusproject.net or make a request for a CD-Rom.
ANNUAL CONTEST CROCUS SCHOOL
The first session of a literary contest meant for all the pupils of the member and non-member schools of the Crocus system has been held in collaboration with the publisher Vannini, that produces together with Cospe the series of intercultural and linguistic materials Hibiscus . Two subjects were proposed: non-native children could write a biographical story and all children, notwithstanding their origin, could write a story about a friendship in the multicultural society. The participants have been many from all over Italy and have submitted works having a remarkable literary and intercultural value. The first winner will be awarded a small scholarship and the school attended will receive a free subscription to the Crocus system as well as teaching materials from the Hibiscus series. The other 19 winners will receive a gift of teaching materials offered by the publisher Vannini. The award winning ceremony will take place during a conference due to be held in Florence on the 21st of November 2002 from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Palazzo della Signoria, with the support and sponsorship of the Municipality of Florence. Two other days have been scheduled to present the Crocus system: the 11th November in Padua and the 20th of November in Prato.
All participants of the three presentation days will receive a free Guide to Hibiscus intercultural tools and a valid password to access the Crocus system for 15 days (the on-line section).
Given the success of the first session, the contest will become an annual appointment: the new call for proposals for the school year 2002 2003 will be on line after the above mentioned conference.
The success of the Crocus system has been covered also by the printed media:
- The daily paper L Arena di Verona has reported the text written by a boy who won the first prize of the contest Crocus school ;
- the book La scuola multiculturale (The multicultural school), written by Maria Omodeo, (published by Carocci Roma 2002), an entire chapter is devoted to the presentation of Crocus;
- the proceedings of a series of courses including a description of Crocus are being published by the faculty of Pedagogy of Padua;
the Italian-Chinese monthly Zhong Yi Bao has reported the list of winners of the contest of the Crocus school and a description of the system. The front page headlines every month invite the readers to visit the demo site www.crocusproject.net.
The partnership supporting the Crocus system is confident in its development potentials at an international level. In order to reach this objective, the Crocus partners are trying to set up an international network of organisations interested in distance education, multimedia and intercultural education, and language teaching.
Parallel to this the partners are developing new contents and carrying out research to make the system transferable to the other countries involved in the mobility of pupils, so as to facilitate them with a process of teaching, linguistic and affective continuity. For the telekiosk, we are thinking of developing specific sections for the various countries. For the sections dedicated to the pupils, we are planning to add more languages, both of the European Union and of third countries where migrants come from. The first two languages in which new materials are being formulated are Spanish and Roumanian.
Whoever is interested in Italy, in other European countries and Mediterranean countries in participating in the further developments of Crocus, can contact Cospe, sending messages to email@example.com indicating:
School / Organisation / Body:
Web site (if any):
Will you please describe in 10 lines the reference organisation and the function you wish to be involved in (as users, part of the network, etc.).