On 3 September 2023, Maria Ferraris, a researcher at the Institute for Educational Technology of the Italian National Research Council (CNR-ITD) from 1974 to 2009, sadly passed away. Her passing followed a long battle against terminal illness, a struggle she fought to the end with admirable courage and dignity.
Maria was a brilliant and creative scholar with an admirable capacity to analyse problems clearly and systematically. She was always attentive to pursuing highly topical research issues of great social relevance. Thanks to her strong experience, combined with realism and critical sensibility, Maria was looked up to as an expert who was always willing to offer help and advice to young researchers, but also to colleagues and peers. She had a clear vision about how research should be conducted and about appropriate policies for developing it. Never one for fads or formalities, Maria stayed focused on substance and the relevance of content. These qualities are clearly reflected in her research publications, which testify to the depth of her thinking and her firm cultural grounding.
Maria worked in the field of Educational Technology from the early 1970s, and experienced the field’s rapid evolution to the present day. A mathematics graduate, Maria devoted herself passionately in the 1980s and 1990s to a particularly arduous challenge: studying applications of information technology to the teaching and learning of the humanities. Her prominent achievements in this field include the development of Word Prof, an educationally-oriented word processor, and DISC, the electronic version of the Sabatini Coletti Italian dictionary. Highly versed in school matters, during her final years at ITD she designed and coordinated the establishment of LabTD, a cutting-edge school space with advanced ergonomics and technological infrastructure specifically conceived to enhance learning and teaching. She went on to study the role the web can play in development of the cognitive skills that underpin information problem solving.
Maria's human qualities were undoubtedly as precious as her scientific talents. Generous, open, capable of understanding and being understood, as well as gifted with keen irony, Maria inspired fondness and esteem in everyone she knew.
Her passing is a great loss to all those who knew her and were close to her.
We will miss her wise advice, her smile, and her wit.
Friends and colleagues from the Institute for Educational Technology of C.N.R.