Panel Discussion: Reflections on eTwinning

The plenary session on the last conference day was highlighted by some proven experts as practitioners and researchers on the podium: Márta Hunya, Bettina Zeidler, Conor Galvin and Pieter Hogenbirk. After a short introduction of themselves, the panel members commented the following voting session, in which the audience could vote for certain statements.

Voting result 1

Voting result 1

The first question related to citizenship and eTwinning, as social competence is regarded to be part of the 21st century skills: “To what extent does eTwinning help to include citizenship into my teaching?”

According to 39.3% of the audience, eTwinning helps to include citizenship into the curriculum for their whole school, and for 32% eTwinning is at least helpful to include citizenship for their own teaching. Thus nearly three quarters of the teachers appreciate eTwinning as a valuable support to educate future European citizens (see voting result 1).

The next main topic of the conference – whole school approach – was investigated in the following voting questions. For example, 48.4% of the participants agreed that in their school the school management drives and supports eTwinning. And – a very positive and amazing result – 45% of the participants stated that eTwinning activities are integrated in most of the official curriculum subjects (see voting result 2 below).

Voting result 2

Voting result 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

eTwinning indeed seems to be well integrated into school life. Almost two thirds (63.5%) of the audience voted that eTwinning activities are done during school time.

A Hands on 21st Century Education

adil

Adil Tugyan, Turkish Ambassador and English teacher

In this workshop, the Turkish Ambassador and English teacher Adil Tugyan gave an insight into the characeristics of education in the 21st century. What do students want? What skills do 21st century teachers need?

While most students today are digital natives who are familiar with the internet and social media, the majority of teachers are rather digital immigrants. But in order to prepare their students to a live in a modern world, teachers need to adapt their classes to the requirements of the future. This means for example to create a diverse learning environment (in terms of media, data sources and collaborative approaches).

What does it take to be an effective teacher in the 21st century? What do teachers need? These questions were lively discussed during the workshop and a lot of examples were exchanged. With several videos and a vivid presentation, Adilshowed examples of his own teaching experience in Turkey.

In fact, the characteristics of a 21st century educator are diverse: he/she should be an adaptor, communicator, risk taker, collaborator, leader, model, learner, critical thinker, controller, and: a reflective practicioner. “Stagnation is the death of any teacher!” So teachers should adapt to the know how of their students.
Adil pointed out that some important aspects for 21st century learning are to enable active learning and to change the roles of teachers to being rather facilitators or coaches fostering student centered learning.

Certainly several participants might have found this a quite challenging task. But the crucial factor for teachers is to be still open to learn and stay curious in getting to know new tools and techniques – this is the best attitude with regard to their students. eTwinning offers great opportunities to share new tools. Teachers can benefit of the experience from colleagues all over Europe. Just give it a try!

Welcome Address

Androulla Vassiliou, the European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism, Sport, Media and Youth could unfortunately not be personally present at the conference, but sent a video greeting to the participants. In her welcome address she acknowledged the willingness of teachers to learn with and from each other. Furthermore, she cordially thanked all the teachers who make eTwinning happen for their contribution to its great success. While eTwinning helps young people to find their European identity and to broaden their horizon, it still has enormous potential for the upcoming European programme period from 2014 to 2020. In her concluding words she pointed out an expanded role for eTwinning in Europe on a new platform. Sounds exciting, doesnt’ it?

João Casanova, Deputy Minister for Education and Science of Portugal

João Casanova, Deputy Minister for Education and Science of Portugal

Afterwards, the Deputy Minister for Education and Science of Portugal, João Casanova, warmly welcomed the guests from all over Europe. What is eTwinning? eTwinning is the largest learning community in Europe. It brings best practices of the use of ICT in our schools. In Portugal, 1.800 schools and 4.000 teachers are involved in eTwinning, sharing ideas and communicating with schools across Europe. A large number of Portuguese teachers use ICT in their classes. Due to modernisation in the past years, the technical facilities in schools have improved remarkably (almost one computer per student!). João Casanova stressed the importance of the topic of this conference – Citizenship and School Collaboration – as citizenship means commitment for active participation in society. Teachers, amongst others, have a responsibility for students being active citizens of tomorrow. eTwinning with its variety of possibilities has a lot to offer for students to become fully aware citizens of Europe. In this respect, he wished a fruitful conference to all participants.

The audience could then experience “citizenship in action”: Portuguese students from the Michael Giacometti School gave a fabulous impression of their percussion show with simple music instruments like tin cans and wooden sticks. Their stirring rhythm and enthusiasm literally spread to the public!

Percussion performance from students of Michael Giacometti School

Percussion performance from students of Michael Giacometti School