A new model of research and education

The CSL is a research unit within the Department of Political and Social Sciences at the University of Florence. Within the lab works a community of researchers of various ages and backgrounds involved in a rigorously experimental study of the ‘generative paradigm of communication’, developed by Luca Toschi. From it’s beginnings, the research practiced at the CSL has been distinguished by its interdisciplinary and interdepartmental vocation.

Our dynamic network within UniFi

Precisely for this multidisciplinary nature of its research and projects, the CSL collaborates with several departments within the University of Florence, such as: Computer Engineering, Architecture, Biology, Chemistry, Management of Agricultural, Food, and Forest Systems, Humanities, Experimental and Clinical Medicine, Earth Science, Economic and Business Sciences, Education, Pyschology, and Law.


San casciano smart place @ National Council on Public History Annual Meeting 2014 from Communication Strategies Lab

Research, didactic, and production

For years, the generative model of communication has been analyzed by people with different educational, professional, and cultural backgrounds, pursuing research paths that go beyond walls of academia. The projects undertaken by the CSL deal with both public and private institutions and firms, which operate in immensely varied and strategic economic and social sectors.

There is a very close link with University of Florence students, as shown by their high participation inside the laboratory. Once they pass an assessment test, they are allowed to participate in the CSL’s projects throughout their university careers. The CSL has a structural link specifically with the School of Humanities and Education, which has a good 10 programs.

For the mission of the University

The CSL works within the University, contributing to reinforcing its social role in all three areas of the university’s mission: didactics, research, and the so-called third mission, that is, the direct application, the valorization, and the use of knowledge in contributing to the social, cultural, and economic development of Society.

Self-financed and self-sustained research

Another characteristic of the CSL is that it is completely self-financed. Not being an agency, but rather a research unit, economic return is not the guiding factor that gives life to the projects. The potential return of a project in terms of research is the only parameter of the lab. All of the CSL’s projects, in fact, were undertaken specifically for their strong connection to the research objectives and educational goals of the laboratory.


Communication is a power that creates knowledge

The CSL is therefore an environment where study, research, and work are strongly interactive and interdependent. Over the years, the CSL has seen hundreds of students from various degree programs and our certificate and specialization courses, as well as professionals that seek to collaborate with us. Some approach us for thesis work, others for internships, and some even to propose a research project. This strength, this varied and multidisciplinary vitality that fills the rooms of the CSL daily with people, ideas, and things, is the principle resource of the laboratory.

Topics

In our current research, we assign the central role to ICT, whose automation and constant evolution we consider both a resource and font of strategic complexities from which we write the future of our culture, society, economy, and democracy.

The CSL, therefore, focuses its attention on linguistics – not tools, technical issues, or software. Our research on digital languages explores a whole series of convictions related to the use of new technologies within the perennial context of communication, expression and writing in the broadest sense. It is similar to other experiments on Augmented Reality being conducted in many different sectors of our society, from museums to commercial shopping malls, from the world of sports, to publicity and territorial marketing for business.

The Augmented Reality Program constitutes for us at the CSL a particularly fertile and exciting area of research. We are conducting surveys and experiments on Augmented Reality that uncover the effects and changes that manifest when the Internet converges with things and environments. These studies are pursued in the context of territorial marketing, in on-the-job training for business (as well as traditional learning in school), and in the management and marketing of our artistic, cultural and environmental heritage.

Many of the projects that the CSL currently directs have the common interest in Digital Writing, a rubric applicable to much of what we do. For many years, our research projects involve reflections, initiatives, and experiments oriented towards the digital declination of writing practices. The research centered on Digital Writing originated in the 1980’s when CRAIAT (Centro Ricerche e Applicazioni dell’Informatica all’Analisi dei Testi) was founded at the Florence University in cooperation with the Italian IBM Foundation and IBM-SEMEA. On this subject we offered the first Master Degree (Digital Writing – Writing with New Media – edition 2004-2005, 2005-2006 and 2006-2007). Moreover our post-graduate advanced courses are centered on the nexus between writing, reading and interactive surfaces. Outside the academy, we have offered training for corporations in which practices of digital writing are seen as forms of collaborative writing.

An important and recurring element, which has arisen in recent years, is the reflection on the operational tools and necessary competences to make organizational communication more efficient. We are developing innovative solutions to bridge the gaps between internal and external communication.

Projects
Unicoop Firenze

Years: 2013-2014

Keywords: #media identity #communication #social networking #content analysis #cooperative

Partners: Unicoop Firenze

Objective:

  • analyze the communication strategies and tools of Unicoop Firenze;
  • analyze the relationship between communicative actions, strategies and the imaginary values of the cooperative organization

Methodology: Through the use of the Generative Communication Methodology, the CSL has given rise to a process of internal reflection and knowledge-oriented organization to bring out the strengths and weakness of the current configuration.

Description: the CSL has made a description of the relationship between the areas of Unicoop Firenze that actually design and realize the strategic actions in the field of communication. In this scenario, the CSL evaluated also the relations between marketing actions and the mission of the cooperative.

Output:

  • Report of the research “Media Identity of Unicoop Firenze”;
  • Document of proposals for an internal reorganization;
  • Scientific publication.

San Casciano Smart Place

Years: 2012 – 2014

Keywords: #territorial marketing #social capital #social networking #tourism #mobile app #Niccolò Machiavelli #cultural heritage

Partners: Comune di San Casciano Val di Pesa (fi); 3Logic (software house); San Casciano civic Museum; civic and cultural associations; over 20 farms

Objective:

  • to re-create and to promote the territory through its history and traditions;
  • to use the charm of Niccolò Machiavelli to promote San Casciano in the world.

Methodology: through the use of the Generative Communication Methodology, the project aims to create a communication environment oriented to knowledge creation.

Description: the San Casciano Smart Place project aims to give tourists and citizens new ways of relating to the territory. Using an Augmented Reality mobile app (for IOS and Android), based on digital storytelling strategies, you will be able to discover the great excellences of San Casciano: Niccolò Machiavelli, the history, the culture, the traditions, the wine, the oil, the landscape… The focus is the relationship between the real (people with their culture, history, economy…) and symbolic (genius loci) to design the future (a district of knowledge).

Output:

  • A network of farms and other economic activities;
  • The San Casciano Smart Place mobile app (for IOS and Android);
  • Scientific publications.

Communicating Rural Development Programming (PSR) 2014-2020 for Tuscany Region

Years: 2014

Keywords: #rural development programming #CAP (Europe’s Common Agricultural Policy) #participatory strategies #territorial marketing #social capital #social networking

Partners: Tuscany Regional Government; National and regional agricultural organizations; territorial farmers.

Objective: to re-create and to promote the territory through its history and traditions

Methodology: A generative approach to create a communication strategy based on knowledge development for regional rural programming field.

Description: in order to better communicate Rural Development Programming (PSR) 2014-2020 for the Tuscany, the project aims to made use of participatory tools and sessions to facilitate the knowledge sharing, using both top-down and bottom-up strategies.

Output:

  • a territorialized network for bottom-up communication in the Tuscany PSR 2014-2020;
  • a web channel for top-down communication in the Tuscany PSR 2014-2020;
  • participatory tools and session to facilitate the knowledge sharing;
  • Academic and research paper/book

In the specific field of training and education, the CSL has coordinated several research projects. Among these:

150 Digit, project conceived and managed by Luca Toschi, with the team of the CSL and financial support of Comitato Italia 150 in collaboration with ANSAS (ex Indire), CIRMA, and VRMP. It is promoted by the Ministry of Education, University and Research, which has included it among the innovative project involving Interactive Whiteboard and ICT.

The museum generative. Communicate the cultural heritage as a memory for the future, in collaboration with Museo di Storia Naturale of the University of Florence. The projetc uses methods and practices related to the paradigm of generative communication to identify and test a model of heritage communication based on the following topics:

  1. communicate the cultural heritage giving maximum strength to the social context to which it belongs;
  2. create an environment of exchange, circulation and dissemination of scientific knowledge;
  3. engaging visitors (before, during and after the visit) providing them with tools to create new contents.

• In the 2006-2007 academic year, the CSL started an advanced course on the pedagogical use of IWB (interactive whiteboard) and other interactive surfaces. “Teaching and Communicating with the Interactive Whiteboard, the e-book and the Digital Contents” was the first Italian training support on Interactive Whiteboard offered in Italy at the university level. Starting with the 2009-2010 term, the course runs in collaboration with the Italian University Line (IUL). By studying and using Interactive Whiteboard and the E-book, the update and professional training course aims at providing participants the necessary theoretical and practical skills to prepare lessons, seminars, and conferences. The training involved and created a community of 1,600 teachers.

Cl@ssi 2.0, in collaboration with the Ministry of Education and Indire. The action Cl@ ssi 2.0 aims to provide the opportunity to check how and when, through the constant and widespread use of technology in everyday teaching, the learning environment can be transformed. The project involved 20 classes of primary school and middle school of the Tuscany Region.

Le idee affollano le cose

Ideas overcrowds things

Our History

The CSL was founded in 2006 in the Department of Education and Cultural and Educational Processes, but its history goes back much further. Its origins, in fact, can be traced back to the beginning of the 1990s, in what was once CRAIAT.

The projects of the CSL come out of a method of university research launched under the direction of Luca Toschi at the end of the 1980s and which was used in CRAIAT at the Information Center in the University of Florence (known at the time as CeSIT) starting in 1992. The CSL has recovered and illustrated a selection of the most interesting projects realized during that era.


The Archive

The Thesis section of CSL’s archive contains over 100 student theses from every level of education (Bachelor’s, Master’s, PhD), the majority of which are of an experimental nature. All of the theses can be consulted by students, graduates, and researchers.

The Library

As with the theses, all of the volumes in the CSL’s library are available to anyone in the laboratory. There are hundreds of books and magazines on subjects ranging from communication, education, social sciences, and cooperative culture. The library also contains a section, the only one of its kind in Italy, dedicated to digital texts and digital publishing. These volumes are in the processes of being cataloged.