Hi everyone, and welcome back to a new episode of Friday with International Update!
Like I've recently done, i’d like to introduce you a new activity realized by members of the Italian Team, which loves to share their skills and knowledge with people in public events and courses. Italy has a strange relationship with computer technology and digital alfabetization in general: Digital economy and society index has ranked us at the 25th place in Europe, with a 47% of people having basic computer skills, against an European average of 59%, but 68% of workers declaring to be below that level of competence.
With the new generations of citizens, that level will surely rise, but being able to use something doesn’t mean understanding. Is important to follow people for a better training, young ones to allow them grow with solid base skills, and older ones to help them in manage everyday activities, in a increasingly technological world. In such environments, the will to spread knowledge by technical people is precious.
And we all know how Microsoft can help (and has helped) in this with its products.
Today we will talk about two Italian TechNet authors, Piero Sbressa and Carmelo La Monica, which have picked up the challenge and started a course to help people fill the gap, sharing their expertises and beginning an important task which we hope they could continue to carry on. But enough talking, and let’s see what Piero will tell us: i’ve asked him some questions about the course, how they’ve shared their Microsoft competences, and what were their activities and covered topics. Let’s read on to know!
Q: Hi Piero, tell us about you
A: I’m Piero Sbressa, and i work as a software engineer and developer (in Microsoft environments) since 2006, but i was fond with development since i was 15, with a Commodore 16 my parents bought me. On that system, I’ve learned Basic development, following then all the history of computer science progresses, mostly from Microsoft, which are the technologies i primarily work on today.
In 2006 i’ve started collaborating with a CAF (tax assistance center) near Milan, in Cinisello Balsamo, where today i’m the person in charge for all the digital infrastructure, which relies on Windows OS – a task that allows me to deepen my knowledge in Microsoft technologies more and more.
In 2012, thanks to VB Tips & Tricks Community, i was lucky to know Carmelo La Monica, an humble and a very extraordinary man from a professional and human point of view. Starting a great work relationship, we’ve written articles for blogs, developed a dozen of Windows Phone applications, won an Hackaton (in team with other people too) and a Dvlup Nokia program.
Carmelo is passionate about technology and computer science, he has developed many apps in mobile and desktop environment of Microsoft platforms, and he was awarded with Microsoft MCC (Microsoft Community Contributor), given to those people offering their support to Microsoft technical communities. He was also nominated MVP by the C# Corner Community. He nowadays works in industrial environment as a PLC programmer.
In 2015 we both entered the DotNetCode community, lead by Luca Congiu, which later will become a sponsor for our courses, along Crystalweb.it , which is the brand represented by Carmelo and me. And so, here we are.
Q: I know in 2017 you and Carmelo hosted a computer technology course as teachers. Can you tell us about organizational topic?
A: The course idea was born in 2015, in the above mentioned CAF, which in the meantime has broaded the offered services, becaming also a society (Crocetta society, presided by Moriggi Renato, and Manuel Torres Garcia, ALS president, which helped us in logistics and organization). One of those addes services is the training of its members.
Starting wasn’t easy: a first problem was finding an adequate room by laws means to host the course. We started in 2016 spring with few people signed up. We have a very small room, inside a shop, and the initiative seemed to be heading for a premature end. But it was a gym instead to keep designing our idea, and in the 2017 spring the local parish give us a room with tables and a blackboard. That course was a success, and we keep experimenting with another session in the late spring of 2017, then in autumn 2017 with 25 people and the room always full. Beside the help of the parson, other precious help came from logistics and tools the society lend us, managing the sing up procedure and further communication with our partecipants. Moreover, we was assisted by Antonella Fiorenti, accountant, and Lorena Silveri, developer.
Q: Speaking about Microsoft technologies, what are the topics you’ve decided to cover?
A: Our course was called “Corso generale di informatica” (General course in computer science). Me and Carmelo have explained which are a computer components, internal and peripherals, to further detail about OS and software.
We have explained the basisi of Microsoft Windows, with general topics like file management, basic operations for shortcutting, etc. Being our partecipants absolute beginners, we have focused on training on Microsoft Notepad, to let them experiment without damage risks. We have further explained the basis of Windows OS, with the normal procedures to adopt to keep a computer in good state and performance. We have instructed our guest in how to install an OS, starting from UEFI (with Microsoft being in the UEFI consortium, with some special functionalities for Windows 10).
Being an indispensable software for everyday activities, we’ve held some lessons on Microsoft Excel, starting from scratch to arrive at functions writing.
Q: What were your objectives, and how your students responded to them?
A: The first sessions were made thinking how to better the organization. The last session of autumn 2017 was instead more focused. As Microsoft Community members, we wished to show how Microsoft products can bring better results than other commercial software, and how they can have a more soft learning curve, so to ease the approach to IT for people with no digital skills. We wished to communicate to our students useful tools and skills, for those unemployed and for those who wish to better their employ.
In fact, our course was opened to all kind of audience, without limitations regarding age or job. That wasn’t so easy to manage, beacuse different people have different needs, so the challenge was to follow each one of them in a effective way, without being of detriment to others.
We held test at the beginning of the course, as well as mid-way and at it’s end. And I must say everyone get better, by their means, and so our objective was reached.
Q: Can you give us some personal insight on the project, expectations, results, and the way it could be realized through Microsoft products?
A: It was challenging, and for Carmelo in particular, because he drove each time for hours to reach us. It was demanding for me, also, with all the things i needed to prepare for each lesson. But it was fun, we love to learn and share what we know.
And when you have enthusiast students following you with passion, that’s enough to restore you. We need to get better in several ways, starting from logistics setup (to name some problems, we’d like to give some commodities for our students, like a cafe internal to the structure), but we are happy for the road walked until now, and we are looking to get better in what we’re doing.
We’d like to collaborate directly with Microsoft for that project, maybe being able to hold our courses in a Microsoft House. But first we need to increase our organization, in terms of skills and offers.
Q: So you think to hold new sessions? Can you share more details about it?
A: Like I said, we desire to get better, so we won’t stop. We have already opened subscriptions for a new Microsoft Excel course, which will take place from autumn 2018 to Febrauary 2019, then – always with Carmelo – we’re planning to make a development course with Microsoft Visual Studio and C#, and Microsoft Access. Those two are also planned for 2019.
We’re also thinking up what we’re calling “Microsoft Pill”, brief sessions with tricks on Microsoft technologies to be discussed while dining, maybe in front of a nice pizza. We will see if that project will be possibile too. Our hope is to do good, to increase our partecipants and to extend available rooms, in order to solve logistic problems. The hard parte will be find then people with the desire to learn: sadly, few people have that craving for learning that generally can be easily find in technical communities like Microsoft’s.
Thank you Piero for your words, and for having shared with us your projects.
I hope those words of yours can be inspiring for our readers, with many of them maybe doubtful of starting a challenging task, a complex projects, thinking over and over if the price will be worthy to be paid. But we’ve read how being passionate about own dreams can represent the right fuel to keep going and build something good and useful.
So follow your passion! And get involved into Microsoft TechNet Community too, if you haven’t already, to find inspiration and many people that will share with you the same push to help others while continuing learning.
Hoping you had a good time reading, until next time!
More on Italian Communities stories to come, stay with us.
Thank you for reading, and have a great Friday!