Panel Discussion: (More) Reflections on eTwinning

The second part of the panel discussion with Márta Hunya, Bettina Zeidler, Conor Galvin and Pieter Hogenbirk, continued with the audience voting and the panel reflecting on and discussing the results.

The audience was asked to choose the most relevant advantage of eTwinning for them personally out of 5 suggestions (see picture below).  50.6% of the audience answered that the most relevant advantage of eTwinning for them is the positive impact on pupils skills or motivation to learn. The second most favoured choice was being involved in an international teaching community (20.4%).

Photo: Antje Schmidt

Photo: Antje Schmidt

The panel viewed this as a good result, as it means that teachers put their pupils first. The panel discussion moderator, Riina Vuorikari, then pointed out that these five alternatives were actually the results in the recent Impact Study on eTwinning.

Also the last voting task was linked to the Impact Study on eTwinning. Teachers in the audience were asked to answer if they were surprised to hear that pupils, according to the study, rated improvement in using the computer lower than all other impacts due to their pre-existing confidence in using ICT tools.

Photo: Antje Schmidt

Photo: Antje Schmidt

Of the primary school teachers, 51.9% were not surprised by that statement, while 22.2% said they in fact were surprised. 26.7% did not  comment. The voting results of teachers other than primary, largely correlated with these, and can be seen on the picture left.

Overall the panel was not surprised over this result, based on the fact that the tools used in eTwinning are tools used in everyday life – tools that pupils indeed may know from before.

At the end of the session, the panel was asked what their wishes are for eTwinning in the future: Bettina Zeidler mentioned the involvement of pupils as her wish, while Márta Hunya emphazised creativity. Pieter Hogenbirk shared  his plans to develop his school into the best whole school eTwinning school and challenged everyone to do the same. Conor Galvin’s wish included new technology and the use of web 2.0. He also pointed out that teachers are the heart of eTwinning and hoped that that continues to be the focus in the programme.

eTwinning in Practice 5 – ingredients of successful projects

IMG_8745In the workshop eTwinning in Practice 5, three winner projects were presented by the teachers involved; winner of The Marie Sklodowska Curie Prize Fly me to the Moon, winner of the English as a second language prize P.A.L.E. Play and Learn English and The Mevlana prize for intercultural understandning, Intercultural dialogue through fairytales, drama and art.

In a packed room, with people even standing at the back, we got an interesting insight into the three winning projects. All three projects are very different; they involve different age groups, subjects and sets of activities and tools. Nevertheless, there are still several similarities between the teachers’ presentations. Could these similarities be some of the key ingredients in a recipe for a successful eTwinning project?

All presenting teachers stressed the importance of having good project planning and the importance of having set time lines for doing things in a project. However, they also pointed out that planning does not mean over planning: Pupils need to be able to see and reflect on the proposed plan, and to come up with their own suggestions and ideas of what to do in a project.

Many of the teachers involved in these winning projects had worked with one another before, and could therefore build on their previous collaboration and ways of working. A good lesson might therefor be to hold on to previous eTwinning partners, while also being open to new contacts. The teachers also stressed the value of good communication and being organized in the project. This is of even more importance for big projects, with partner schools from most European countries.

Many of the teacher presenters of this workshop also showed us that they build on activities they have done in previous eTwinning projects, which makes planning a new project easier, even if the new project is not identical to the previous one.

During the workshop, it also becomes evident that these (eT)winning teachers are creative and enthusiastic and eager to learn, also from each other, and are continuously developing their teaching.  What also shines through is how proud the teachers of these three winning projects are of their work in eTwinning. And so they should be!

Inspiring keynote speech on Learning Citizenship

Professor R. H. Fryer´s keynote address on learning citizenship for the 21st century was inspiring, both within in an eTwinning context and in a wider scope.

IMG_8391The future is not only here for the taking – it is here for the making”
Professor Fryer talked about risk society – the fact that the world we live in today is unpredictable and if you will scary – and what this sort of world demands of its citizens and of teaching and learning. Fryer stressed that in an uncertain world citizenship is not only about coping with or responding to the situation. It is about active engagement and about shaping the world. Therefor the real issue for eTwinning according to Fryer, is how do we make students the authors of society they live in today.

”Diversity can lead to a higher level of cohesion”
Fryer also talked about social movements, the voices these movements have given groups that have not had a voice before ¬- and the diversity that this results in.  Fryer stressed that peoples’ attitude to “other”, the way we look at “other”, is of importance. He talked about the notion that diversity actually can lead to cohesion; that coming in contact with other ways of thinking, other sets of priorities and other ways of doing things actually can lead to a higher level of social cohesion.

Giving the pupils a sense of themselves in a social world”
What kind of teachers does this new world of risk need? Professor Fryer left this question for the conference audience to think about.

Concerning the role of the teacher, Fryer emphasized the teacher as someone who draws out the potential in others. He also stressed the importance of giving the pupils a sense of themselves in a social world.