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Italy's top court rules the right to eat packed lunches on school grounds is not "unconditional".
www.bbc.co.uk | 8/1/19

Instagram has expanded hiding “likes” to six new countries, months after the Facebook-owned app launched its initial test in Canada.

On Wednesday, Instagram rolled out the test in Australia, Brazil, Ireland, Italy, Japan and New Zealand. Users will still be able to see how many like their posts get, but when someone else goes to their post, the total number of likes will be absent.

“We hope this test will remove the pressure of how many likes a post will receive, so you can focus on sharing the things you love,” Facebook director Mia Garlick told the BBC.

Also Read: Instagram Adds New Feature to 'Restrict' Digital Bullies

The larger test comes only a few months after Instagram head Adam Mosseri told BuzzFeed News the company wants users to focus less on their like counts. Mosseri said he wanted to create “a less pressurized environment where people feel comfortable expressing themselves,” rather than an environment where people delete posts that don’t rack up enough likes.

The test also comes as there’s mounting evidence likes are detrimental to mental health.

A 2017 study from the U.K. Royal Society for Public Health reported Instagram was the social app most detrimental to mental health for people 14-24, often exacerbating their depression, anxiety or body image issues. Instagram in particular makes young women “compare themselves against unrealistic, largely curated, filtered and Photoshopped versions of reality,” the report said.

“The brain responds to likes like any other reward or thing that excites the brain like food, sex or gambling,” Cal State University professor Ofir Turel  recently told TheWrap. “When you get likes, the reward system lights up and releases dopamine, making us feel good.”

Also Read: Tech Execs on How to Balance What's Good for Society and Shareholder Obligations

That good feeling can become fleeting, though, as users get hooked on checking their phones for social validation after posting a picture or video. Turel, who has studied the impact of social media on the brain for more than a decade, said users habitually check their phones — including 40% of Americans while driving — because Instagram and other platforms have created a “variable reward,” something best associated with betting in a casino.

Related stories from TheWrap:

Instagram Goes Down for the Third Time in Just Over a Month

Instagram Adds New Feature to 'Restrict' Digital Bullies

Instagram Head Insists App Doesn't Listen to User Conversations

www.thewrap.com | 7/18/19
Amanda Knox has arrived in Italy for the first time since she was acquitted by an appeals court in October 2011 in the murder of her British roommate in the university town of Perugia.
www.foxnews.com | 6/13/19
Amanda Knox says she is returning to Italy for the first time since she was convicted and imprisoned, but ultimately acquitted, in the murder and sexual assault of her British roommate in the hilltop university town of Perugia.
www.foxnews.com | 5/8/19
A radioactive isotope one billion times older than the Universe! An international team of researchers, including six scientists from the Faculty of Science and Technology of the University of Coimbra (FCTUC), was able to measure for the first time the longest average lifetime of a radioactive isotope recorded by a device of measurement. This extraordinary fact is published (April 25), as the main piece on the cover, in Nature, the most prestigious of all scientific journals. The isotope in question is Xe 124 and its average lifetime is approximately one billion times older than the Universe. The Universe is about 14 billion years old, a period of time inconceivable when compared to the scale of human life. As if that alone did not cause enough amazement, there are radioactive isotopes (unstable elements that change over time emitting radiation) whose average life happens on scales much greater than the existence of the Universe itself. "The fact that we can directly measure such a rare process as this demonstrates the extraordinary scope of our measurement system, even when it was not made to measure these events, but rather dark matter," stresses José Matias, coordinator of the Portuguese team in this effort international and researcher of the Laboratory of Instrumentation, Biomedical Engineering and Radiation Physics (LIBPhys) of FCTUC. In fact, this measurement was only possible thanks to the XENON1T system, the most sensitive instrument ever produced by mankind for the detection of dark matter. It is installed in the National Laboratory of Gran Sasso (Italy), the largest underground laboratory in the world, under 1300 meters of rock to shield the system from cosmic rays existing on the surface. The study published by Nature shows that, after all, "XENON1T was also able to measure other rare physical phenomena, such as double electronic capture. In this case, the nucleus captures two of the electrons that orbit it in the atom, transforming two of the protons that constituted it into neutrons and emitting radiation in the form of two neutrinos. The energy released in this process forms the signal that the system registers, despite the extreme difficulty in being detected by its rarity, and can be generally masked by the omnipresent "normal" radiation ", affirms the also vice president of the Higher Institute of Engineering of Coimbra (ISEC). The average life span of Xe 124 Only with the detailed knowledge of the sources of radiation recorded by the detector was it possible to observe 126 events of double electron capture of the isotope Xe 124 and thus to determine for the first time its average life time of 2.5 x 1022 years (25 thousand millions of billions of years). This is the longest physical process ever measured directly by mankind. In fact, there is a register of phenomena with a longer average life (isotope Te 128) in the Universe, but that was inferred indirectly from another process. For the time being, it is not possible to predict the implications of this discovery that opens new horizons in human knowledge. The XENON consortium consists of 160 scientists from 27 research groups from the US, Germany, Portugal, Switzerland, France, the Netherlands, Sweden, Japan, Israel and Abu Dhabi. Portugal has been a partner in this collaboration since its inception in 2005 through the LIBPhys team. Cristina Pinto University of Coimbra • Faculty of Science and Technology Translated from the Portuguese version Ekaterina Santos

The internet started to take on momentum in the 1990s. At that time many analysts, myself included, marveled at the opportunity of creating a platform that would boost grassroot democracy. There was no need for a middleman and there were few barriers to ordinary people becoming involved. This included organizing groups, discussions and events, sharing knowledge, insights and information, publishing opinions — just some of the potential attached to the internet. And for the first two decades, this basically was what happened, in a very positive and constructive way. It did disrupt several business, social and political models but that that was seen as 'a new broom sweeping clean.'

All of that is still happening — and as a matter of fact, it has only increased. However, at the same time, the ugly side of humanity has moved into this area as well. They all jumped on the bandwagon — cheats, plain criminals, misogynists, racists and bullies. This was very unfortunate, but it became serious when more organized misuse of the internet began to take place. This is undermining democracy and democratic processes; many people began to say enough is enough.

Most of the misuse is aimed at generating fake traffic that leads to extra advertising income or click income on YouTube for instance. In proportion to overall internet activity the other, serious political misuse is significantly less. It has, however, far deeper negative consequences. It is using manipulation to set people against each other. It interferes with democratic processes such as elections and undermines democratic institutions.

This criminal internet activity happens more or less in parallel with broader traditional forms of manipulations and is not limited to the internet. The fake news activities and the undermining of democratic institutions are for example carried out by President Trump without the internet. The same is happening in countries such as Britain, Turkey, Hungary, Poland and Italy, to name just a few.

There is no doubt that the internet has become an important tool to create division, hatred and conflict. This has more to do with human behaviour than with technology. Addressing only the technology element of this problem will not solve the much more serious underlying issues.

Division, lies, hatred, fake news, racism and conflict are being used by our leaders in public. It is then not difficult to understand that people perceive this as a license to do the same, with or without technology.

It is important to state that it is not the internet that is causing all of this. So far the internet has created far more positive than negative outcomes, and we need to preserve what's best about it. Most importantly, this includes the freedom for people to express themselves. Equally important is that entrepreneurs can innovate and build new business models. At the same time, we need to ensure that we protect society from broader harm.

We can look at what we have done with other tools that we use — tools like guns, cars, chemicals and drugs. All these products and services can have negatives associated with them. What we have done over the years to address this is to build elements into these products and services to limit the risk and increase safety.

This has been done through the hard work of everyone involved: the government and industry, as well as the users/consumers. As an example, look at cars in the 1970s. They killed 3 to 4 times more people than they do now, and our population has nearly doubled over that period. How did this change happen? Partly through regulation, partly through better products, and partly through human behaviour.

Have we, as a result, eliminated all the harmful elements of motor cars? No, of course not. But the risks have been reduced considerably over those years. This to such a level that the negative (e.g., death by car accidents) seems to be acceptable to most of us. Is that enough? No, it isn't. And so we are still trying to improve, through the combined efforts of government, industry and us, the people.

We will also have to begin to develop similar processes in relation to the internet. However, before we know what we need to do, we will first have to drill down to where the problems are and work out who can do what in addressing the issues.

Starting with the government, Mark Zuckerberg mentioned the need for a more active role for governments and regulators. He suggested the need for an update of the rules for the internet. In particularly in four areas: harmful content, election integrity, privacy and data portability.

In relation to the industry, he recommends starting with data manipulation aimed at defrauding the internet companies. Here the social media companies have a vested interest in tackling that problem themselves as fraud cost them money. The tools that they develop to minimize this can also be used to address other data manipulation issues — for example, interferences in elections and fake news. As Zuckerburg indicated, the government will also have to play a key role in setting up the rules for this. This will also need to be done at international levels.

It will remain a cat and mouse situation. New — more sophisticated — technologies to combat this will be developed, and they will be circumvented by criminals, and this process will continue. In the end, criminal interferences will be greatly reduced. The reason being that it simply becomes too costly for many of the groups to come up with their own tools to crack the ones developed by industry. The best hope here is for a managed situation, similar to those that have been created to manage other potentially dangerous tools, as in the motor car example.

A challenging issue here is the fact that what is harmful to one society, culture or religion is not necessarily the same for another group. A real threat — or even perhaps a reality — is that this would lead to a further regionalization of the internet. Countries such as China, Iran and North Korea have already created their own walls around the internet, and Russia is also trying to build its wall.

Another issue in relation to the industry is whether some of these companies are becoming too dominant and are showing monopolistic tendencies. A very human reaction to this is that we don't tolerate monopolies. We, therefore, need to start looking at industry legislation, be it anti-trust remedies, breaking up companies or other solutions.

Lastly, we also need to drill down on the people's side. We need to identify and address what causes the problematic behaviour of those misusing the internet before we can address these issues. Education and information at schools and elsewhere will be important. They will deliver longer-term positive outcomes.

Full-blown criminal behavior, racism, hate speech and the like are already punishable under existing laws. Our enforcement agencies, however, are still not well-equipped to address Internet-based crimes as effectively as they address similar crimes conducted in more traditional ways.

I am sometimes alerted by people who read my analyses to information or activities that are of an illegal or criminal nature. I report them to the appropriate authorities, but I have never received an answer from them. And if one goes to a police station to report internet abuse that will still too often elicit a blank look from the officer at the desk.

In order to get the people on board here, they need to be supported by well-functioning institutions. They should be able to take effective action against individuals that are crossing the line online. At the moment there is a feeling among the public that they are losing control over some of the central mechanisms of their lives. In the case of the internet, the lives of most people have been improved, and it has created lots of new economic activity. At the same time, it is also clear that the negatives of technology are such that people are not comfortable with the risks and safety issues. Comparing this with the example of motor cars, it is obvious that more work is needed. And whether we like it or not, people want action now.

So far this is resulting in some countries introducing broad and vague sweeping laws. Laws which are not implemented effectively, because it is impossible to do so while they are still being written. We clearly need to improve on that.

This will become increasingly apparent as time goes on. My colleagues in America say that the problems with the hastily introduced social media legislation will soon become evident in Australia. Other countries will learn from these mistakes and will adopt more realistic legislation to safeguard innovation, economic growth and freedom of speech. These core democratic elements seem to become the casualties of bad legislation. With a lack of effective self-regulation from the digital media giants, there is however no doubt that major changes to these negative elements in the use of the of the Internet will increasingly be regulated and legislated.

Written by Paul Budde, Managing Director of Paul Budde Communication

www.circleid.com | 4/24/19
Two university students are accused of igniting a massive forest fire in northern Italy last December and they were hit with the bill for the damages: a cool $15.3 million each.
www.foxnews.com | 4/17/19
ELS'19 - 12th European Lisp Symposium Hotel Bristol Palace Genova, Italy April 1-2 2019 In cooperation with: ACM SIGPLAN In co-location with 2019 Sponsored by EPITA and Franz Inc. http://www.european-lisp-symposium.org/ Recent news: - Submission deadline extended to Friday February 8. - Keynote abstracts now available. - registration now open: https://2019.programming-conference.org/attending/Registration - Student refund program after the conference. The purpose of the European Lisp Symposium is to provide a forum for the discussion and dissemination of all aspects of design, implementation and application of any of the Lisp and Lisp-inspired dialects, including Common Lisp, Scheme, Emacs Lisp, AutoLisp, ISLISP, Dylan, Clojure, ACL2, ECMAScript, Racket, SKILL, Hop and so on. We encourage everyone interested in Lisp to participate. The 12th European Lisp Symposium invites high quality papers about novel research results, insights and lessons learned from practical applications and educational perspectives. We also encourage submissions about known ideas as long as they are presented in a new setting and/or in a highly elegant way. Topics include but are not limited to: - Context-, aspect-, domain-oriented and generative programming - Macro-, reflective-, meta- and/or rule-based development approaches - Language design and implementation - Language integration, inter-operation and deployment - Development methodologies, support and environments - Educational approaches and perspectives - Experience reports and case studies We invite submissions in the following forms: Papers: Technical papers of up to 8 pages that describe original results or explain known ideas in new and elegant ways. Demonstrations: Abstracts of up to 2 pages for demonstrations of tools, libraries, and applications. Tutorials: Abstracts of up to 4 pages for in-depth presentations about topics of special interest for at least 90 minutes and up to 180 minutes. The symposium will also provide slots for lightning talks, to be registered on-site every day. All submissions should be formatted following the ACM SIGS guidelines and include ACM Computing Classification System 2012 concepts and terms. Submissions should be uploaded to Easy Chair, at the following address: https://www.easychair.org/conferences/?conf=els2019 Note: to help us with the review process please indicate the type of submission by entering either "paper", "demo", or "tutorial" in the Keywords field. Important dates: - 08 Feb 2019 Submission deadline (*** extended! ***) - 01 Mar 2019 Notification of acceptance - 18 Mar 2019 Final papers due - 01-02 Apr 2019 Symposium Programme chair: Nicolas Neuss, FAU Erlangen-Nürnberg, Germany Programme committee: Marco Antoniotti, Universita Milano Bicocca, Italy Marc Battyani, FractalConcept, France Pascal Costanza, IMEC, ExaScience Life Lab, Leuven, Belgium Leonie Dreschler-Fischer, University of Hamburg, Germany R. Matthew Emerson, thoughtstuff LLC, USA Marco Heisig, FAU, Erlangen-Nuremberg, Germany Charlotte Herzeel, IMEC, ExaScience Life Lab, Leuven, Belgium Pierre R. Mai, PMSF IT Consulting, Germany Breanndán Ó Nualláin, University of Amsterdam, Netherlands François-René Rideau, Google, USA Alberto Riva, Unversity of Florida, USA Alessio Stalla, ManyDesigns Srl, Italy Patrick Krusenotto, Deutsche Welle, Germany Philipp Marek, Austria Sacha Chua, Living an Awesome Life, Canada Search Keywords: #els2019, ELS 2019, ELS '19, European Lisp Symposium 2019, European Lisp Symposium '19, 12th ELS, 12th European Lisp Symposium, European Lisp Conference 2019, European Lisp Conference '19
Rome investigates five security officials over the death of a Cambridge University student in 2016.
www.bbc.co.uk | 12/4/18
Giuseppe Conte’s decision to continue pursuing a teaching position at a Rome university was only the latest episode in a bumpy few weeks for the governing coalition.
www.nytimes.com | 9/10/18

Education in Italy is compulsory from 6-15/16 years of age, and is divided into five stages: kindergarten (scuola materna), elementary school (scuola elementare), middle school (scuola media), high school (scuola superiore) and university (università). Italy has both public and private education systems. In Italy a state-born school system, or Education System has existed since 1859, when the Legge Casati (Casati Act) mandated educational responsibilities for the forthcoming Italian state (Italian unification took place in 1861). The Casati Act made primary education compulsory, and had the goal of reducing illiteracy. This law gave control of primary education to the single towns, of secondary education to the provincie (counties), and the universities were managed by the State. Even with the Casati Act and compulsory education, in rural (and southern) areas children often were not sent to school (the rate of children enrolled in primary education would reach 90% only after 70 years) and the illiteracy rate (which was near 80% in 1861) took more than 50 years to halve. The next important law concerning the Italian education system was the Legge Gentile. This act was issued in 1923, thus when Benito Mussolini and his National Fascist Party were in power. In fact, Giovanni Gentile was appointed the task of creating an education system deemed fit for the fascist system. The compulsory age of education was raised to 14 years, and was somewhat based on a ladder system: after the first five years of primary instruction, one could choose the 'Scuola media', which would give further access to the "liceo" and other secondary instruction, or the 'avviamento al lavoro', which was intended to give a quick entry into the low strates of the workforce. He enhanced the role of the Liceo Classico, created by the Casati Act in 1859 (and intended during the Fascist era as the peak of secondary education, with the goal of forming the future upper classes), and created the Technical, Commercial and Industrial institutes and also the Liceo Scientifico. The Liceo Classico was the only secondary school that gave access to all types of university, until 1968. The influence of Gentile's Idealism was great, and he considered the Catholic religion to be the "fundament and crowning" of education. In 1962 the 'avviamento al lavoro' was abolished, and all children until 14 years had to follow a single program, encompassing primary education (scuola elementare) and middle school (scuola media). From 1962 to the present day, the main structure of Italian primary (and secondary) education remained largely unchanged, even if some modifications were made: a narrowing of the gap between males and females (through the merging of the two distinct programmes for technical education, and the optional introduction of mixed-gender gym classes), a change in the structure of secondary school (legge Berlinguer) and the creation of new licei, 'istituti tecnici' and 'istituti professionali', giving the student more choices in their paths. In 1999, in accordance with the guidelines laid down by the Bologna Process, the Italian university system switched from the old system (vecchio ordinamento, which led to the traditional 5-year Laurea degree), to the new system (nuovo ordinamento). The nuovo ordinamento split the former Laurea into two different tracks: the Laurea triennale (a three-year degree akin to the Bachelor's Degree), followed by the 2-year Laurea specialistica, the latter renamed Laurea Magistrale in 2007. A credit system was established to quantify the amount of work needed by each course and exam (25 work hours = 1 credit), as well as enhance the possibility to change course of studies or to continue studies in a foreign country after the first 3 years. However, it is now established that there is just a five-year degree "Laurea Magistrale Ciclo Unico" for programmes such as Law.


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