CURRENT STATUS
The satellite operated service CROCUS is structured to be complementary to what the schools and the educational institutions offer in the field of “multicultural school”. Its aims are:
Ø      To favour equal opportunities in education and school success
Ø      To favour bilingualism among pupils of ethnic minority origin (second language learning and mother tongue maintenance)
Ø      To favour the diffusion of intercultural teaching methods.
 
CROCUS is a complex system that includes:
Ø      A pupil section for the distance teaching to pupils from ethnic minority groups. The satellite- distributed lessons are integrated with text books, CD-Roms, videotapes, and web-distributed learning units. The system offers distance tutoring and distance learning during live broadcasting lessons. 
Ø      A telekiosk section that offers multilingual services to school administrations and families from ethnic minorities. The service facilitates communication between school and families regarding administrative procedures and immigration legislation.
Ø      A teacher section for the in-door training of teachers and other school staff in the field of intercultural teaching, multilingualism and the integration of foreign pupils in the school community.
 
 
The experimental phase of the Crocus project, completed in June 2002, has involved over 400 pupils from ethnic minorities, 30 schools and cultural centres in various regions of Italy – from the South to the North – and 3 Albanian schools. The schools included primary, middle and high schools, the centres included libraries, documentation centres, immigrant associations.
 
The pupils have received new lessons and exercises weekly and a tutor has followed up their progress e-mailing back remarks or integrating exercises, if any. The pupils have worked individually or in small groups, on their own or with the help of the school teacher, permanently connected with the tutors of the Crocus system for the courses of Italian as a second language and for the mother-tongue courses in which they had enrolled. Thanks to the Telekiosk section, the teachers and the rest of the staff have tested the information and documentary support services, helping the partners of the Crocus project tune it up and make it more functional and comprehensive.
 
With the start of the new school year 2002-2003, a new phase has started, with the promotion of the system so that it can be independently supported from a financial point of view. The start-up of the complete service is scheduled to take place early in 2003, as soon as a considerable number of schools and centres will have joined. At present, the whole portal is being upgraded, in order to make it more easily surfable, to have a clearer understanding of the sections which are free and those which need subscription, to highlight what can be used via the Internet and which sections need  a satellite platform.
Moreover, upgrading and revision of courses and of teaching and information materials available in the portal are under way, as well as an enlargement of the offer in terms of linguistic aspects and contents.
The schools and the other cultural centres can subscribe to the system, according to a price list based on the number of courses, scheduled live sessions, the number of pupils to be tutored, the duration of the period of subscription.
Before subscribing, people can visit the extensive demo available on the website or make a request for a CD-Rom.
 
CROCUS PRESS RELEASE
21.11.2002
 
During a public meeting in Palazzo Vecchio, held in Florence the 21st of Novembre 2002, the CROCUS Project’s preoperational phase was officially concluded. In two years time the international partnership, co-ordinated by the Non Governmental Organisation COSPE, has developed and tested a unique distance learning system for pupils from non Italian origin in Italian schools. But the CROCUS service is more than just a distance learning service providing language courses in Italian, Arab, Chinese, Romané and Albanese. The service intends to be a useful tool for schools that aim to gear their educational policies towards inclusiveness. Teachers will find reference material for intercultural teaching, while school administrations will find useful tools for extending their services to immigrant families. The system is Internet based, but uses satellite transmission links for pushing data, video’s and images to the user stations located in schools, libraries, youth and cultural centres and teacher training centres. The system facilities include individual tutoring, live language learning sessions via satellite, live audio chatting, an interactive white board and telekiosk support activities. The pilot phase has seen the involvement of more than 30 Italian schools in located in various regions 3 schools in Albania, with more than 250 pupils taking actively part.
From January 2003 on, CROCUS is an independent service which is commercialised in Italy by COSPE, SILAB and Vannini Editore. These partners guarantee a national coverage for dissemination and sales activities. The partnership is currently exploring the international market, including eastern Europe and North Africa. This to respond to two fundamental aims of the project, creating opportunities for didactic continuity in chain migration processes and promoting bilingualism.
With thousands and thousands of new foreign pupils each year streaming into the Italian educational system, the potential market for CROCUS in Italy is big. Anyway the world of education in Italy is transforming rapidly and resources directly available to the schools are few. Other institutional actors supporting schools like local authorities, private foundations and educational service deliverers targetting schools have been motivated to promote or to support CROCUS. Especially local authorities percieve CROCUS as a valuable tool to shape their school support policies (City of Florence, Santarcangelo, Campi Bisenzio, e.o.). To further this development, specific marketing strategies will be developed in the very near future targetting other potential clients. Other plans for the near future include the development of courses in Spanish, Urdu and Rumanian, as well as teacher training packs and out reach teacher support facilities.
As during the pilots also in the future the language learning courses will be  scientifically monitored by CILS (Università per Stranieri di Siena) and IRRE Tuscany.
http://telecom.estec.esa.nl/telecom/www/object/index.cfm?fobjectid=6563