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lead author Daniela Proli, up to spring 2013; later updates by Paul Bacsich
tables of initiatives by Matteo Uggeri - see in particular his tabular report File:Open Education Initiatives in Italy.pdf
see also Open Education Italy, again by Matteo Uggeri, which provides a more narrative report -

For entities in Italy see Category:Italy


Sourced from VISCED

Italy is a parliamentary republic. The State’s republican set-up was established by the referendum of 1946 by which the Italian people abolished monarchy in favour of Republic. The Constitution of the Republic is the fundamental and founding law of the Italian Republic. It was approved by the Constituent Assembly in 1947, promulgated by the Interim Head of State, Enrico De Nicola, on the 27 December 1947 and came into force on the 1 January 1948. It consists of the Republic’s fundamental principles, the rights and duties of the citizens and lays down the organisation of the Republic also as it regards the national education system.

The Italian population is 59,715,627 (source: ISTAT, 2007) and the per-capita GDP is about 27,000 euro per year. The capital is Rome.

The President of the Republic is the State highest charge and he represents national unity. He is appointed every seven years by the Parliament, convened in a joint sitting, integrated by the regional representatives. He does not have a policy-making role, nevertheless the Constitution entrusts him legislative, executive and judicial functions. In periods of political stability his role is actually limited to representative and monitoring functions. However, the powers conferred to him by the Constitution make the role of the President of the Republic get more importance in situations of political instability or of institutional drift of the State.

The State legislative power is entrusted to a bicameral Parliament composed of the Chamber of Deputies (630 Deputies) and of the Senate of the Republic (315 Senators elected, plus the life Senators). Both houses are elected by universal suffrage (at present, the electoral law provides for the allocation of the sieges among the candidates of different blocked competitive lists in proportion with the votes obtained, with a majority bonus assuring the governability to the most voted coalition lists). In Italy is in force a perfect bicameralism: the Houses have the same functions and the same powers. A law has to be approved, in its same text, by both Houses. In case of contrast between the Houses the law is not approved. As a consequence, the electoral laws of the two Houses are quite similar in order to avoid that differences in policy-making paralyse the Parliament. This system was conceived in order to have a higher balance of the decision-makers in approving the laws. The Houses hold office for 5 years, but the President of the Republic can dismiss them in before the term office.

The executive power is held by the Government, which comprises two distinct bodies: the President of the Council of Ministers, the Ministers and the Council of Ministers consisting in the union of the above-mentioned bodies. The Ministers are responsible on an individual basis of the acts of their offices and, on a collegial basis, of the acts of the Council of Ministers. The President of the Council directs the Government’s policy, but in the framework of the Council he is primus inter pares among his colleagues. However, if he resigns, the entire Government resigns The President of the Republic, further to consultations with the main political leaders, appoints the President of the Council and, upon proposal of this last one, the Ministers. After taking office, the Government shall present itself to the Parliament and obtain confidence vote by both Houses. Since the Ministers cannot be revoked, sometimes. in order to force them to resign, each Chamber votes for no confidence for an individual minister.

The Magistrates exercises the judiciary power (both the inquiring and the judging one and it is an autonomous and independent body from any other power. The ordinary Magistrates have the jurisdictional function (see jurisdiction entry), which they govern in the name of the people. The Consiglio Superiore della Magistratura (the Higher Council of the Magistrates), elected for one third of its members by the Parliament in joint sitting and for two thirds by all Magistrates is chaired by rights by the President of the Republic and has self-governing tasks of the Magistrates.

OER in Italy: Map

Total number of Open Education Initiatives in Italy on Thursday, 15 April 2021 at 05:27 = 9 , of which:

  • 4 are MOOC
  • 5 are OER

Initiatives per million = 0.15

Loading map...

Recent work

For additional open education initiatives in Italy not yet integrated into the main database, see the report Media:Open Education Initiatives in Italy.pdf.

For a wider context of "opening up education" see the report Media:Open Education Initiatives in Italy supplement.pdf.

Further information

For further general information see Wikipedia:Italy.

Italy is subdivided into 20 regions (regioni, singular regione), five of these regions having a special autonomous status that enables them to enact legislation on some of their local matters. The country is further divided into 110 provinces (province) and 8,100 municipalities (comuni). There are also 15 metropolitan cities (città metropolitane), established in 2009, but this administrative division is not yet operational.

Despite this provincial structure, the pattern of education across the provinces of the country is rather similar.

Italy extends from the southern side of the Alps’ arc and stretches out to the Mediterranean Sea; its territory includes also Sardinia and Sicily, two large islands, beside a range of smaller islands. The sea at the Eastern side of the peninsula is the Adriatic Sea, at Southeast there is the Ionian Sea; at the West, along the entire peninsula, there is the Tyrrhenian Sea, whereas in the Northwest of the peninsula there is the Ligurian Sea. From a geographical viewpoint Italy’s regions are divided into: northern regions (Valle d’Aosta, Piedmont, Liguria, Lombardy, Veneto, Trentino Alto-Adige, Friuli Venezia-Giulia, Emilia-Romagna); the central regions (Tuscany, Marche, Umbria, Latium, Abruzzo); the southern regions (Molise, Campania, Puglia, Basilicata, Calabria) and the islands (Sicily and Sardinia).

Administrative division

Education in Italy

For a general description of education in Italy see Education:Italy.

Structure of the Italian education system

The Italian education systems has been under reform for years, being a critical field where changes in government have been reflected in a series of reforms being not always on a continuity line. As reported by Eurydice, The Italian education system is currently structured as follows:

  • Scuola dell'infanzia (non-compulsory pre-primary education) for children between 3 and 6 years of age, lasting 3 years;
  • first cycle of education (8 years), organised in primary education for children between 6 and 11 years of age, which lasts 5 years, and lower secondary school for children between 11 and 14 years of age, lasting 3 years;
  • second cycle of education consisting of two different pathways:
upper secondary school, which falls under the responsibility of the State, lasts 5 years and is addressed to students from 15 to 19 years of age. This level of education is provided by licei, technical institutes, art institutes and vocational institutes.
initial vocational training (three-year courses) for students who have completed the first cycle of education and is organised by the Regions. Compulsory education ends with the first two year of the second cycle.
  • post-secondary non-tertiary education, offered within the higher technical education and training system (Istruzione e Formazione Tecnica Superiore – IFTS), offering higher technical education and training pathways and courses provided by Higher Technical Institutes (Istituti Tecnici Superiori – ITS);
  • higher education, consisting of university and non-university higher education. The higher education system is divided into State and non-State establishments and is organized according to the Bologna structure (bachelor, master and doctorate)

Compulsory education

Thanks to recent reforms dating back to 2007, education in Italy is now compulsory for ten years (up to 16 years of age), whereas each person has to remain in education or training up to 18 years of age or for a total of 12 years. Specifically, compulsory education includes the first cycle of education (5 years of primary school followed by 3 years of lower secondary school, with no exam in-between) and the first two years of the second cycle of education. The latter can be accomplished either in upper secondary schools (“licei”, technical and vocational institutes) or within vocational training, namely in three-years courses run by the Regions which in Italy are responsible for managing and delivering vocational training. It is worth stressing, that unlike several European school systems, primary and lower secondary education remains two different education levels in Italy, each with its’ own specificities, due to the quite recent re-organisation of school cycle and the different teacher education path taking to primary and secondary school.

Post compulsory education

Upper secondary education

As far as upper secondary general education is concerned, a reform applied from school years 2010/2011 has introduced a systematization of upper secondary schools, in order to make clearer and more transparent the existing educational supply to students and parents, hereby counteracting a trend which in the last decades had produced - by means of experimentations - a huge number of different upper secondary school paths

Post-secondary non-tertiary education

Post-secondary non-tertiary is available within the “higher technical education and training system” (Istruzione e Formazione Tecnica Superiore – IFTS). It offers

  • higher technical education and training pathways
  • courses provided by Higher Technical Institutes (Istituti Tecnici Superiori – ITS).

The system is designed to speed up the access of young people to the world of work and to retrain those who already have work experience. This is done through courses which are designed to provide young people and adults (employed or otherwise) with more specific cultural knowledge and in-depth and targeted technical and vocational training.

Courses offered by the Higher Technical Institutes (ITS) are aimed at meeting the formative needs throughout the country, referred to the following 6 technological areas: energy efficiency, sustainable mobility, new technologies in life, new technologies 'made in Italy', innovative technologies for arts and cultural activities, ICT.

IFTS courses, on the contrary, are planned by the Regions within their own exclusive competences. Anyone (adults included) holding an upper secondary education leaving certificate, has access to courses offered by the High Technical Institutes (ITS) and to IFTS pathways. Access to IFTS pathways is also allowed to those in possession of a three-year vocational diploma, to those who have been admitted to the fifth year of the liceo, as well as to those who do not hold any upper secondary certification. These latter are required to hold a certification of competences acquired through previous training and working experiences undertaken after the fulfilment of compulsory education.

Post-secondary non tertiary education also includes Second-level vocational training , addressing those who have obtained an upper secondary school leaving certificate or a first-level qualification in the three year vocational education and training courses. Second-level courses, offering a qualification and a specialisation in a profession of a specific area, foresee full time attendance in an accredited formative institute, which manages the courses, and a compulsory ‘stage’.

Higher Education

The higher education sector in Italy includes both university and non-university Institution and is divided into State and non-State establishments. Higher Education is organized in three cycles – Bachelor, Master and Doctorate according to the Bologna Process. Access to both tertiary education and AFAM (high level artistic, musical and chorus education), is reserved to students who passed the state exam at the end of upper secondary school . The legal provisions in force for higher education in Italy are set out in Article 33 of the Italian Constitution, which recognizes the right of universities and academies to act autonomously within the limits set by the law. Both public and private organisations have the right to establish schools and educational establishments. Universities have adopted new autonomy statutes which establish their governing bodies as well as their teaching and research structures. Academies and AFAM institutes are the principal seats of high level education, specialization and research in the art and music sector. They have statutory legal status and autonomy in regards to the following fields; teaching, scientific, administrative, financial and accounting.


Sourced from Eurydice

Overall responsibility for school education lies within the Ministry of Education, University and Research (Ministero dell'Istruzione, dell'Università e della Ricerca), represented at the local level by Regional and Provincial School offices.

According to Law no. 59 of 15 March 1997 and subsequent implementation decree (DPR 275/1999), all schools are granted teaching autonomy, organizing autonomy and research, experimentation and development autonomy.

School autonomy is one of the most important institutional element to take into account when addressing issue related to school needs, problems and innovation capacity in Italy, is the provision of school autonomy, granted by law since 1997 to single schools in teaching, research activities, experimentation and development, and involving the possibility to implement specific actions or projects in the single school or in school networks, or develop particular didactical programs (in the general respect of ministerial guidelines).

School autonomy plays today an important role in bottom-up innovation of school to pursue new educational goals as defined in key political documents, and is a crucial element to take into account when analysing the Italian school system with regards to the bottom-up opportunity to innovate. The Law supports in particular the creation of schools’ network in order to share experiences through the institution of laboratories for didactical research and experimentation, sharing of documentation, teachers’ training, educational and training guidance. In particular, each school autonomously elaborates its POF (piano dell’ offerta formativa- educational offer plan), a document including the whole school’s educational offer in terms of curricular and extra-curricular activities, as well as organizational settlement, framed in the national educational objectives and taking into account students’ and families’ needs.

The Constitution establishes that the State has to provide for a state-owned education system, but it also establishes that also non-state school may exist.

These can be of two different kinds:

  • schools with equal status (paritarie), these are schools managed by private subjects or public bodies. They have been granted equal status, as they have met specific requirements such as: carrying out an educational plan in coherence with the principles included in the Constitution and in the legislation, allowing everyone willing to be enrolled, hiring teaching staff holding a qualification to teach and according to the national contracts (law 62/2000). Schools with equal status are allowed to issue legally recognised certificates and are part of the national education and training system.
  • schools with non-equal status (non paritarie) (law 27/2006). These are schools that did not present a request for obtaining the equal status or do not meet the specific requirements. They are not allowed to issue officially recognised certificates, they cannot be called 'school' and they are not institutions for the fulfilment of the right/duty (diritto/dovere) to education.

In 2004, the National service for the evaluation of the education and training system was instituted. Its task is to improve the quality of the education system, through the evaluation of its efficiency also in relation with the international context. The National institute for the evaluation of the education and training system (Istituto nazionale di valutazione del sistema educativo di istruzione e formazione – INVALSI) is entrusted with the national service.

Also the universities have gradually gained administrative, financial and accounting autonomy. The Ministry is responsible for the allocation of funds, for monitoring and the evaluation of the system. This latter is carried out by the National agency for the evaluation of the university and research system (Agenzia nazionale per la valutazione del sistema universitario e della ricerca – Anvur), which has been set up in 2008. According to university autonomy (Regulation no. 509 of 3 November 1999), each university establishes its courses organisation in the respect of the qualifying formative objectives of the courses. Each university decides the teaching organisation and structure of its degree courses in the teaching regulations which are approved by the Ministry.


For a description more focussed to e-learning see E-learning:Italy.

Quality procedures


Eurypedia reports on the situation in Italy in unusually tentative tones:

Responsible Bodies

Quality assurance in higher education is guaranteed through the internal evaluation carried out by the Evaluation centres, and the external evaluation carried out by the autonomous National agency for the evaluation of the university and research system (ANVUR).

The ANVUR has replaced the previous boards for the evaluation of university education and research, the National Committee for the evaluation of the university system – CNVSU and the Guidance Committee for the evaluation of research – CIVR (DPR 64/2008).

ANVUR is a public body under the surveillance of the Ministry of education, university and research (Miur). Its tasks are:

  • carrying out a programme for the external evaluation of the quality of universities and research bodies activities
  • guidance for internal evaluation activities carried out by the evaluation centres of the universities and of research bodies
  • evaluation of the efficiency and efficacy of public financing and programmes for the promotion of innovation and research activities.


As for higher non-university education, the gradual inclusion of the AFAM system in the so called 'Bologna process' has highlighted the need of a systematic control on the implementation of the reforms of both the whole system and single institutions, also fostering the spread of a 'culture' of evaluation; with the reform (Law of 21st December 1999, no. 508) the Afam system has been recognised the same level as the university higher education; therefore, the external evaluation activities are carried out by the same body that is responsible for the quality assurance at university higher level.

Approaches and Methods for Quality Assurance

ANVUR oversees the public national quality assurance system of universities and research bodies. This role has been carried out by the previous evaluation Committees (CNVSU and CIVR), that have been replaced by the ANVUR, in order to guarantee a more rational evaluation system.

The Agency applies the methods and criteria more suitable for each evaluation activity carried out, also taking into account methods and criteria defined by the Commission for the evaluation, transparency and integrity of the public administration, as well as experiences developed and shared at national and international level.

Moreover, the Agency has guidance functions towards the Evaluation centres and prepares common procedures for the evaluation of courses made by students; it suggests evaluation criteria for the accreditation of courses and for setting up new universities or premises and for starting new study courses. It elaborates criteria for the allocation of public funds, minimum standards of performance and costs included. It evaluates the efficiency of public financing programmes and the results of the relevant agreements. Finally, every two years, it draws up a report on the university and research system.

As noted in Study in Italy, AFAM are

institutions of the Afam system, specialised in the arts and music; they include fine arts academies (ABAs), higher schools of design (ISIAs), national academies and schools (dance, drama, cinema), music conservatories, recognized musical institutes (lists available at

An interesting ENQA record notes that ANVUR can not have been operational until 2011:

The Italian Ministry of Education, Universities and Research is about to set up a National Agency for the Evaluation of Italian Universities (ANVUR), and has recently activated the procedures to select and recruit members for the Board of Directors. A selection committee has been appointed to shortlist candidates who have submitted their applications or have been nominated by academic institutions, scientific associations, experts and student organisations and institutions.
Applications and nominations must be submitted electronically by 20 September 2010...

Interesting also that ANVUR is only an affiliate of ENQA, not a member in any category of member. ENQA describes Affiliates as:

Bodies that do not wish to, or for whatever reason are unable to, apply to become members of ENQA may request affiliate status within ENQA. Affiliate bodies are bona fide organisations or agencies with a demonstrable interest in the quality assurance of higher education.


Quality and evaluation of the school system in Italy is now regulated by law 53/2003 which reformed the school system and established the National System for the Evaluation of the Education and Training System in 2004. The National Institute for the Evaluation of the Education and Training system (INVALSI) – existing since 1999 - was put in charge of the evaluation process.

In general the task of INVALSI is to improve the quality of the education system, through the evaluation of its efficiency also in relation with the international context. The areas subject to intervention are currently the following:

  • education system evaluation through regular
  • schools evaluation.
  • evaluation of the learning outcomes of pupils and students
  • spread of an evaluation culture
Schools evaluation

There is no external evaluation of single institutions in Italy, except for the control of administrative and accounting regularity which is carried out by the Boards of auditors of INVALSI. INVALSI manages the National Service for Evaluation in line with law 176/2007 by delivering standardized test for lower secondary schools which provide data on the performance of schools in terms of students learning outcomes. Upper secondary education is going to be covered soon by the standardized INVALSI test.

Internal evaluation is very widespread especially in the framework of School Autonomy which encourage self-evaluation practices. The legislative references are, at present, the Charter of school services (Carta dei Servizi Scolastici), issued through DPCM of 7 June 1995) and the Regulation on school autonomy (DPR 275/1999), both encouraging self-evaluation practices. The Charter on school services, issued through D.P.C.M. of 7 June 1995) points out three quality areas (didactic, administrative, environmental); it establishes the obligation of defining quality factors and standards for each area; it provides for methods of carrying out the self-evaluation of the National evaluation service, through questionnaires for parents, school staff and, only at upper secondary level, for students.

The Regulation on school autonomy (D.P.R. 275/1999) has committed schools with the establishment of criteria for the recurrent assessment of results that have been attained with reference to the prefixed objectives. Regulation no. 44/2001, establishes that the Board of Auditors is entrusted with the control on administrative and accounting regularity.

Evaluation of the education system

INVALSI draws up an annual report on the school system, including both quantitative indicators (demand/supply) ratio, resources, etc.) and qualitative indicators (analysis of exam outcomes, analysis of national and international surveys).

The institute has also been working at the definition of a model for the evaluation of the school system within the ValSIS project. The framework takes into account the background where schools work, resources at their disposal, activities carried out, short-term results (marks, number of successful pupils), long-term results (competences acquired, access to the labour world)

Internet in Italy

The most recent report on the diffusion and use of the internet in Italy is the report on Citizens and new Technologies 2011, published by the Italian National Institute of Statistics (ISTAT). Compared to many European countries, Italy is lagging rather behind (at the 20th place) both in terms of internet home diffusion/quality of available connections (62% of Italian families had internet against a european average of 73%) and broadband access (52% against 68%), although access is increasing over the years.

A strong difference persists between the North and the South of the country in terms of access to information society and penetration of the internet, which reflect the longstanding socio-economic gap which hinders the country.

In 2011, 58,8% of Italian families had a personal computer and 54,5% access to the internet; 45,8% had a broadband connection to access the internet. The highest internet diffusion is within families with a young member, while – not surprisingly – internet is less diffused among the oldest population. In particular the most intensive use of the internet is among the population between 11 and 24 (78%), which then decrease significantly after 35. Also students are those who use the internet most (92,3%), followed by employed people. Internet is mostly used at home (88,2%) in Italy, and in a lower percentage at the workplace (35%) or in the place related to study experience (14,2%). The three major activities associated to the internet are respectively:

  • communication through email (80%),
  • find information on commodities and services (68.2%)
  • read newspaper, news and journals (51%)

There is a systematic growth in the use of social networking tools such as Facebook and twitter. Online self-study stands at 35,5%, study orientation at 4% and following online course at 4% Quite obviously, the set of activities on the internet are very much dependent on the age and profile of the user. For instance, information on educational offer is particularly diffused between 18-24 as much as the habits to learn and find information through the web.

Interestingly, the reasons why some families do not have internet access or do not use it in Italy are mainly associated to the lack of competences and skills (41,7%), and only to a less extent to the high cost of connection (8.5%). It seems thus that the main obstacle to full internet diffusion is more of a cultural nature in Italy.

More info can be found in the report published by ISTAT, Citizens and new Technologies 2011, only available in Italian.

Initiatives related to the take up of information society

The Digital Italy Plan is the government current instrument to stimulate the development of digital infrastructure and promote the widespread use of digital technologies, services and processes in line with the Digital Agenda of the European Commission. The plan has two main pillars:

  • Broadband National Plan, aimed at eliminating the digital divide in the country, by supporting through public intervention the infrastructual development in those areas (around 6000) where development costs cannot be supported by market forces, due to low pay-off. The goal is to ensure within 2013 access to modern infrastructure to 8,5 millions of Italians who at the end of 2008 found themselves affected by "digital divide". see: Broadband National Plan
  • Strategic plan Italian Digital Agenda, aimed at ensuring on the one hand the infrastructures for full broadband coverage for the Italian population and on the other hand the development of data center for cloud computing for the public administration,

More information can be found on the website of the Italian Government on the implementation of the Italian Digital Agenda.

The action – to be realized within 2020 – shall cover the following areas

  • Infrastructure: full broadband access and cloud computing in the public administration (see above)
  • eGovernment
  • Digital competences: (including full digital inclusion, ICT diffusion within the population at risk, use of the ICT at school and at the workplace, promotion of blended e-learning modalities in education and training (i.e. ebooks, IWB)
  • Digital security
  • Promotion of e-commerce
  • Research and Innovation
  • Smart cities and communities (including the promotion of innovative and socially & environmentally sustainable strategies fruitfully supported by ICT)

A detailed plan for the implementation of the digital agenda in Italy was to be presented in June 2012

Internet in Education

Since 2000 the Ministry of Education, University and Research has supported schools in the use of ICT in the teaching/learning processes. Widespread use of new technology in schools was introduced by means of the School System Reform in 2003 concerning the 1st cycle of education. ICT has then been included in 2007 as a key competence to be acquired during the first and second cycle of education.

A wide set of initiatives were then launched with the aim of reforming the school administration and innovating the teaching/learning methodology to better cope with the needs of teachers, students and families and face the challenges of the knowledge society. The major initiatives have concerned:

  • Supplying schools with multimedia equipment
  • Connecting schools to the Internet
  • Setting up networks and services
  • Training teachers

The Ministry of Education has adopted several projects to develop the use of IT in the teaching/learning process: The most important is the Digital School action plan (2010) which concerns the support and spread of ICT tools and methodologies to innovate in schools and modify learning environment. The plan is made up of three actions:

  • LIM -Multimedia Interactive White Boards, supply of multimedia interactive boards to schools within classrooms and the development of digital classes . As reported by European Schoolnet (2011) The LIM plan is implemented in two phases: first with the supply of 16.000 IWBs to lower secondary schools in 2009, and in a second stage 8.000 IWBs will be provided to primary and upper secondary schools by 2011; ANSAS (National Agency for the Support of School Autonomy, formerly INDIRE) will ensure in-service teacher training for a proficient use of IWB and digital content (50.000 teachers at lower secondary level and 25.000 teachers at primary and upper secondary level).
  • cl@ssi 2.0 the initiative is aimed at exploring the potential of ICT in transforming learning environment in school to the benefits of students, including the acquisition of competences. The project is implemented through pilots in school at lower secondary level across all Italian regions, funded by the Ministry of education.
  • Digital Publishing: this project has been recently launched to support the development and diffusion of innovative publishing resources for learning in school which comply and support new interdisciplinary and competence-oriented approaches, making the best of ICT opportunities. 20 prototypes are going to be selected on the publishing market, acquired and experimented in schools.

Other projects support a better integration between schools and families through the possibilities offered by ICT. In particular the School-Family project provides services for systematic, transparent and timely school-families communication such as online reports, digital registers, online students file, attendance registers. Some initiatives have also been undertaken in the area of teacher training, using online learning environment for teachers to help them familiarizing with ICT and integrate them in daily teaching practices.

This include for instance the eLearning environment for school teachers - managed by ANSAS - PuntoEDU, which offers different opportunities for in-service training of teachers, through a blended modality of eLearning. A platform is made available with a tutor to attend several teacher training courses, based on an active learning approach which include forum, representations of knowledge, exchange of good practices and use of learning objects. The core approach is that of learning by doing and by exchange with the group of peers, so as to develop situated knowledge and help teachers in the passage from theory to practice by sharing the knowledge produced and develop their own teaching material.

The Ministry of Education has recently published data on the Digital School Action plan. As shown in the following tables, information is provided on IT equipment and use of internet connection in the schools participating in the census (91% of Italian primary and secondary schools).

Copyright law in Italy

In Italy - as a civil law system – artistic and literary intellectual property rights are regulated according to the system of Diritto d’autoreBold text (Author’s right), as opposed to the copyright system typical of common law countries.

While the latter protects mainly patrimonial rights, Diritto d’autore also focuses on the so-called “moral rights” of the author.

The law which regulates artistic and literary intellectual property is Law n. 633 of 22 of April 1941 Protezione del diritto d’autore e di altri diritti connessi al suo esercizio, which has been subsequently amended several times to adapt to a changing context (the last modification dates back to 2007).

According to this law, the author has all the rights connected to its work including exclusive rights on economic exploitation and moral rights.

Moral rights are somehow “unending” rights which remain to the heirs and include

  • Paternity of the work
  • Integrity
  • Right to original/inedited work
  • Right of publication (connected to economic rights)
  • Honor and reputation connected to the author

Exclusive Patrimonial rights pertain to the economic exploitation of the work and can be claimed for 70 years after the authors’ death. They include in particular

  • Publication
  • Reproduction
  • Transcription
  • Execution, representation and playing
  • Communication to the public
  • Reprocessing
  • Renting and borrowing

Basically, the Italian Law is rather restrictive and very protective towards to the author of a work, whose authorization is necessary when it comes to reproduction, utilization and distribution of its work.

Significantly this also concerns all digital texts and images on the web, as stated by Decreto Legge 72/22 of march 2004 which applies the rules on intellectual property to the material which can be uploaded or found on the internet. This rule comes from the fact that according to Diritto d’autore, the paternity of a work does not require any formalization but is inherently connected with its creation. Subsequently, even if a work does not feature any explicit indication on the author and the copyright, it is automatically protected by Diritto d’autore. As an exception to this, since 2007 the law permits to publish images and music with low resolution for didactic or scientific purposes, provided that no economic profit is pursued. This exception is however a weak one as the law provides the associations of editors and publishing houses with the right to ask for the removal of the material (De Rosa & Zuccarini:2011).

Copyright law in Education

Italian rules on intellectual property rights has a significant impact on in the different phases of scientific and didactical productions, from creation to publication and distribution. This is clearly a challenge to the current pressure for greater democratization of knowledge and open access to it.

Didactical material

Diritto d’autore poses several restrictions on the re-use of material for didactical purposes on the part of teachers and professors. Unlikely copyright systems, the Italian law does not foresee the so-called Fair Use which permits limited use of copyrighted material without acquiring permission for didactic purposes (among others). There are rather some “exceptions to economic rights”, which does not cover however research or didactics but rather personal use and libraries. These have been however strongly compromised by the systematic infringement and piracy charges on the part of editors, willing to maintain their position. When using works of other authors (or pieces of) - to create for instance miscellaneous of documents or syllabi - a teacher shall always obtain the authorization of the author and respect carefully the law on intellectual property rights. The same applies to modification and inclusion within other material (derivative works.

Scientific and research material

Diritto d’Autore is also reckoned to be playing a negative impact on the creation, development and circulation of knowledge within the scientific community, due to a perverse mechanism which transfers the ownership of the research patrimony to the editors, subtracting it from the research community and the public.

According to De Robbio (2006) , most of the research patrimony is in the hand of editors who often buy all authors’ right as part of the contractual bargaining, through the so-called transfer agreement. The results is that researchers are not anymore owner of their work (and paradoxically they need to ask for permission either to send a copy of their own work to their colleagues).

In that respect, Italian Universities could play a stronger role vis-à-vis editors and a heavier political pressure on the government (and the European Commission). Though, according to De Robbio (2006) , a serious political discourse on scientific copyright is missing as well as an institutional position, which on the other hand put individual authors in a weaker position in front of editors.

Sources: A De Robbio (2008), Creazione di materiali didattici e diritto d’autore Linee guida, A. De Robbio 2006, Accesso Aperto e copyright: il copyright scientifico nelle produzioni intellettuali di ricerca,

OER Initiatives in Italy

In its response to the OECD questionnaire, Italy mentioned that developing connections between OER, non-formal, informal, and lifelong learning was an issue in its implementation of OER. (1)

National OER initiatives


The take up of OER and OEP in the Italian school system is very much linked to the broader issue of full ICT integration in the Italian education system. In that respect, the preparation of teachers for innovative use of ICT and the IT equipment provided to schools are obviously essential to determine the permeability of the system to a culture of openness and the shift to OER.

Certainly, the copyright regulation itself poses obstacle to the development of OER within the school community. According to the Law, what is not under Creative Commons or similar is automatically protected by Diritto d’autore and not available to publication and re-use out of the author’s permission.

This legal obstacle couples however with the distance of teachers themselves from OER concepts. On the one hand the are scarcely knowledgeable about their rights (and opportunities) as authors; on the other hand they are keen to share but seem to rely very much on close communities when it comes to share and use someone else resources. In that respect however only few institutional initiatives exist for validation of “open” material (i.e. Innovascuola, described below).

Experience with OER seems thus to be easier to develop in a non-pure OER context, namely within closed communities. Significantly a set of Italian projects interested in OER concepts have chosen to focus on teachers with the aim to develop their culture of openness and their competence in the field, including training on the use of open copyright arrangement.

Despite the abovementioned constraints, some interesting initiatives exist for the collection of didactical resources to be shared and re-used by teachers in school. Furthermore, the government has recently introduced a provision which obliges teachers to adopt only books which have also a digital version. Although this still concern the acquisition of books from publishing houses, it also open up the way to increased integration of diverse resources in school. This trend is expected to couple with the increasing bottom-up pressure from families to find cheaper alternatives to traditional books to stimulate the development of OER.


The portal innovascuola is managed by the National Agency for the Development of School Autonomy ANSAS. It collects several material crated by teachers in the framework of different projects and then made available to the wider community through the Creative Commons licence. Accredited editors can also propose material from the digital editorial catalogue (digital material or e-books) both for free and under payment.


Gold is a database of best practices from Italian schools managed by the National Agency for the Development of School Autonomy ANSAS. The database also includes the Learning Objects produced by teachers within their practices. The portal is however more focused on good practices exchange and sharing of ideas and projects rather than on educational resources as such.


PuntoEdu is the national online environment for teacher training managed by the National Agency for the Development of School Autonomy ANSAS. The repository contains more than 3,000 LOs which have been developed for teachers’ online training by teachers themselves. The Los proposed are meant to be reused and shared by teachers with their students

Book in progress

Not really a "national initiative" but a nation-wide network of school institutions

Book in progress is a project runt by a network of schools led by the school ITIS Majorana di Brindisi (a High Technical School in the Puglia region) who was the initiator of the initiative.

In order to face the high cost of school books for families and meanwhile ensure high didactical quality, this school started collecting the material produced by its teachers and printed it for its students. The project then moved from a school to a network of schools who adhered to the initiative, though by paying a fee (basically the student pay a certain amount to the school at the beginning of the school year which is much lower than the normal cost of books. With this budget the school is able to take part in the project and ensure all books and a netbook to all students)

Now book in progress is based on a network of 300 teachers who create their own didactic books which are then printed in the different schools. In particular in each school some teachers develop material (textbooks) which. The books are then given for free to students, both printed and in digital form together with a notebook.

The “editorial plan” of Book in Progress includes now textbooks for the several subjects (such as Italian language, history, geography, chemistry, English, physics etc) for the first and the second year of Licei, Technical and Vocational schools. Book in progress offers furthermore video-lessons and online students assistance Book in Progress cannot be defined as pure OER. It is in fact a closed community which grants rights for creation, adaptation and re-use only to its members.



The Oilproject is defined as a “free elearning” community. It was created in 2004 by a group of young people with the aim to open up learning opportunities to everyone thanks to the exchange of lessons on different subjects on a free basis. By subscribing to the online community, everyone can upload his/her own lessons in the form of audios or videos. The authors are obliged to transfer his /her property rights on contents to Oilproject which release them under the Creative Commons licence CC BY-NC-ND 2.5 The quality of the oilproject “educational resources” is based on peer- evaluation and social rating on the part of the public. The Oilproject website has now more than 2200 lessons and 10.000 students.

Regional OER initiatives

Trio Toscana

Trio Toscana is the regional web-learning system of the Tuscany region in Italy. The system was developed in 1998 thanks to the funding of the ESF and submitted to continuous progresses and innovation in the following decade. The system offer courses and digital resources for free to anyone willing to enhance knowledge and competences. In particular TRIO offers podcast, e-book and virtual lessons through its website as well as a large catalogue of online courses. Although it is often mentioned among OER initiatives and project in Italy, TRIO cannot be defined as an OER example as its content is protected by copyright.

Institutional OER initiatives


Supported by FESR (ERDF) EU funds, Federica is the web-learning project of the University of Naples. The initiative involves all 13 faculties of the University with 300 professors (and courses) who actively participate in the creation and re-organization of the didactic material, including the syllabus and other multimedia resources.

Federica makes available courseware from 13 faculties, e-resources and learning materials in different formats. It offers in particular

  • Open courseware
  • Podcasts: Federica channels in Itunes
  • Living library (primary and secondary scientific sources, experimental research data, and academic production and other additional material)
  • Virtual campus

Federica tries to comply with the principles of Open Educational Practices, choosing technical standards to ensure maximum access and openness (web, html, Dublin core) and publishing all material under the Creative Common licence. Despite that, the commercial and derivative use of Federica resources is discouraged and a strong value is associated to the original authorship of the material created. The rationale behind is that the learning context is more important than the isolated learning resources. In that respect FEDERICA resources bring with them their origin and are bound to their learning context. Furthermore Federica put a strong value to the learning ecosystem where resources are placed (the platform) rather than to the single material itself.


R. De Rosa, M Zuccarini (2011), Federica, la via italiana alle risorse educative aperte, in TD tecnologie didattiche, 19 (2), pp. 96 – 101

Italian Universitis on Itunes

Some universities offer their content on I-tunes, such as - The University of Padua UNIVERSA - LUISS - University of Modena and Reggio Emilia - University of Trento

Obstacles and Bottleneck to the adoption of OER and OEP in Italian Universities and potential way forwards

It is hard to find pure OER initiative in the university landscape in Italy. Despite several initiatives of individual professors and faculties, organic actions at the level of the higher education institution are missing and existing italian projects are not usually linked to the global OER movement.

A survey launched in 2009 among eLearning responsible of a set of Italian universities highlighted the following barriers in the diffusion of OER

  • Distrust
  • System-level resistance
  • Cultural resistance
  • Lack of strategies
  • Lack of competences
  • Lack of funding lines
  • Lack of a culture of sharing

The obstacles which hamper the take up of OER in Italian universities are of different nature, including legal, institutional but also cultural barriers.

The copyright regulation obviously poses serious difficulties in the diffusion of Open Educational Resources. As mentioned above the so-called Fair Use is not foreseen by the Italian Legislation on Diritto d’Autore, which is on the other hand very protective towards the authors, covering also all the material and resources available on the web. The free use of low-quality images and media remains a dangerous and controversial area, exposing those professors and teachers who decide to put any material online to the potential (successful) intervention of house publishers. On the other hand, the full take up of Open Educational Resources in Universities does not depend only on overcoming copyright restrictions. It also requires the acceptance and adoption of Open Educational Practices at University level. The experience of Open Archives and Institutional Repositories shows that even when open access resources are created, interest and usage on the part of University professors is very scarce. What is missing is the ability to master OER and OEP and integrate them in daily practice.

Such resistance is on the other hand related to the peculiarities of university teaching, with respect for instance to school teaching. While the latter is to some extent constrained within Ministerial Programmes, the former is highly depending on the freedom of the university professor turning into a very strong identification between the professor and his course (approach, themes treated, material used etc). This seems to turn into a resistance to open up one’s own resources out of the class and “import” and use those of others into the university course.

As the experience of FEDERICA shows, the creation of open courseware requires significant effort on the part of teachers (also due to copyright problem with the use of published material) while there is not yet full perception of the benefits of creating and opening up one’s own resources. These could be instead linked to greater transparency of didactic, quality assurance and enhanced reputation of the teacher.

Strong incentives need thus to be offered to teachers to invest in OER. In that respect, the Federica project was for instance funded by the ERDF and initiated by the university: such framework helped in ensuring the commitment of faculties and professors as opposed to isolated actions of single individuals or faculties.

Institutional action would thus be fundamental in legitimizing, supporting and enabling OER in Italian University and overcoming the obstacles mentioned above. However strong institutional support and initiative has been so far missing in general in the field (see above). A key institutional initiative which would strongly incentive the development and use of OER would be to give scientific publication status to OER, considering the effort that professor are asked to put in their development. This would require to intervene in the actual settlement of Italian university which traditionally exclude didactics from scientific evaluation and publication. On the other hand, such action would support OER uptake by introducing validation procedures and quality assurance of open material.

The viability of such action is in facts more political than practical. Universities can already act as house publishers in Italy and it would be easy to set up a peer review committee at university level thus replacing private editors. The scientific status of didactic material and OER and the possibility to give them the status of scientific publication shall however be decided at central level, affecting the broader separation between didactic and research which characterizes the Italian university system.

Updates in June 2014

For additional open education initiatives in Italy not yet integrated into the main database, see the report Media:Open Education Initiatives in Italy.pdf.

For a wider context of "opening up education" see the report Media:Open Education Initiatives in Italy supplement.pdf.

References ReVica/VISCED page for Italy

A De Robbio (2008), Creazione di materiali didattici e diritto d’autore Linee guida,

A. De Robbio 2006, Accesso Aperto e copyright: il copyright scientifico nelle produzioni intellettuali di ricerca,

R. De Rosa, M Zuccarini (2011), Federica, la via italiana alle risorse educative aperte, in TD tecnologie didattiche, 19 (2), pp. 96 – 101


  1. Open Education Italy, by Matteo Uggeri,
  2. Hylén, J. et al. (2012), Open Educational Resources: Analysis of Responses to the OECD Country Questionnaire, OECD Education Working Papers, No. 76, OECD Publishing.


The authoring team would like to thank their informants, in particular:

  1. Mara Masseroni (ITSOS Cernusco SN)
  2. Pierfranco Ravotto (AICA)
  3. Stefano Mirti (Abadir)
  4. Anne-Sophie Gauvin (Abadir)
  5. Stefania Farsagli (Fondazione Rosselli)
  6. Maria Cinque (RUI / EUCA)
  7. Eleonora Pantò (CSP / EMMA Project)
  8. Stefano Menon (Fondazione Politecnico di Milano)
  9. Ada Giannatelli (Politecnico di Milano)

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