Teachers’ assessment and recognition in eTwinning – Myth or reality ?

Are the teachers’ given recognition for their work and professional development in eTwinning? This workshop aimed to explore the different models of formal and informal recognition for teachers’ work in an eTwinning context existing in some countries.

The workshop moderator, Patricia Wastiau from European Schoolnet gave in her opening presentation an overview of a study of case studies on strategies, enablers and barriers concerning recognition for work in eTwinning carried out by teachers and pupils. The case studies showed that eTwinning can be “a safe laboratory” to test innovative pedagogies, gain confidence in project management and invest in ICT among other things. Except of schools that are engaged for innovation, eTwinning appears to be the only enabler for these professional development opportunities. The reported informal forms of recognition include mutual help between colleagues or school celebrations including even parents and local community. The formal forms include flexible timetable management and reduction of teaching hours, receiving equipment (rare) or financial compensations (very rare). Teachers themselves appreciate most school ceremonies, letters to parents about their pupils achievements in eTwinning projects or memorial plaques. In European level the eTwinning gives recognition through different ways: eTwinning awards scheme, quality labels and other professional development activities.

Elo Allemann from Tiger Leap Foundation, Estonia, gave an overview of the measures that the National Support Services support to promote and observe changes in teachers’ pedagogical practice in the classroom. It is notable that about 10% of Estonian schools have signed up for eTwinning. Participation in eTwinning gives teachers a possibility to showcase their professional development, ICT skills and how they integrate new methods into daily curriculum. eTwinning activities also support and develop the pupils’ main competencies assessed by National Curriculum in 2010: digital and social competencies. Instead of recognition the following are considered as benefits for teachers’ professional development: possiblity to do networking with colleagues, trying out new methodology and pedagogy and possibility to take part in trainings among other things. However, what is most motivating for the teachers are better motivated pupils.

Irene Pateraki presented the Greek model for teacher recognition and told that « sometimes informal recognition is more important than formal recognition ». In Greece, teachers who organize eTwinning projects have some opportunities to show their work and gain formal recognition. These opportunities include National eTwinning Awards, being able to work two hours less per week, presenting their projects in conferences and workshops among others. Yet the recognition by pupils and parents is sometimes the most important one. Parents are very supportive of such projects and even helpful to organise it and pupils become really enthusiastic about working with European partners and show their appreciation to their teacher. Also what was pointed out by Irene Pateraki is that the teachers in eTwinning usually work more and therefore succeed more. This already serves as a recognition.

Agustin Muñoz from the Spanish National Support Service presented three ways of activities and types of recognition used in Spain. First of all, national/regional online course gather around 800 teachers per year (the courses count for professional development records). Secondly the teachers can take part in professional development workshops. Lastly, the eTwinning projects can be evaluated on a case by case basis through standard project reporting and very well defined criteria.  In all the Spanish key factors for recognition include: building prestige of the eTwinning program action; making it well known at school and at the education administration level; and make agreements, regulations and laws establishing max-min credit system for participating in an eTwinning project and establishing evaluation criteria.

Tomacz Szymczak from Poland presented the Polish model for teacher recognition. eTwinning fulfills many of the requirements of the teachers professional advancement in terms of using ICT tools, implementing the project methodology, use of foreign languages, participation in the European school collaboration and sharing knowledge, professional experience with other teachers and broadening the scope of school activities. For this reason taking part in eTwinning is often very beneficial to the teacher’s professional development. “A teacher who carries out eTwinning projects has a better chance of obtaining professional advancement more easily” says Wojciech Wasylko who started in the eTwinning programme from the very beginning and is now an eTwinning Ambassador. The Polish eTwinning teachers can benefit of a versatile support provided by the NSS: online courses, regional and national and thematic conferences, European professional development workshops, contact seminars and eThursdays.

Download the presentations here (PDF):

Pedagogical Practices Workshop – 16 Nov

The Pedagogical Practices Workshop gave a great overview of how eTwinning is used and seen from teachers, eTwinning ambassadors, and policy makers.

They have all agreed that eTwinning had changed their life, and their motivation in their work.

“ I have grown more in 5 years in collaborative work than in 27 years of teaching.”

For teachers, eTwinning is the important source of inspiration schools need to reach the pedagogical goals of 2020.

eTwinning is working towards the goals of 2020 concerning better ICT and language teaching in schools, as well as better European connections, but teachers would need the help of  European and national policy makers for: dysfunctional schools settings, lack of ICT or language competencies, conflict between teachers and teachers insecurities.


Teachers need time, patience, trust, commitment, shared goals communication and a reliable partner. They can find the latter in eTwinning.

Teachers often wonder how to better communicate with other teachers, and most of them feel isolated. eTwinning is the social bridge which links pupils across Europe.

eTwinning team have all benefits of any teaching team, and moreover the European dimension, the use of ICT, use of languages in a real context, cooperative learning, professional development, and learning to learn.

“With eTwinning, teachers are part of a team in their own schools and in Europe.”


How does eTwinning help with ICT practices?

To be linked to another eTwinning school, classes are encouraged to use ICT and web 2.0 tools a lot more.

eTwinning teachers confess they use ICT in the classroom at least twice as much since they are eTwinners.

Besides, pupils learn to use those tools in a real context, serving real goals.

“You can’t imagine the revolution that this new way of work has made in my pedagogical practice.”


How does eTwinning help with teaching of languages?

Great examples of language practice were given during this session.

Engaging in an eTwinning International experience helps children from all horizons in London to be integrated, and helps the natives to understand the International dimension.


In Italy, eTwinning is used to make pupils play the role of teachers for pupils in another country: they have to research, learn, make presentations in another language, explain the context, …

So they learn much more than if they had learn their lessons by heart, and they have a lot more fun.

 “I am fascinated with this new world of teaching and learning.”


Ministries of Educations see in eTwinning the following pedagogical values:

eTwinning is extremely valuable, for International its dimension, working with real and concrete teaching activities.

Classes using eTwinning face cultural, technical and language barriers, so they have to be innovative to overpass those barriers.

Lots of 21st century competences are dealt with thanks to eLearning, and really easily.

Future of schooling is taking place in eTwinning and its easy technology.

“With eTwinning, teachers are part of a team in their own schools and in Europe.”



Dr. Riina Vuorikari

Riina Vuorikari has actively worked in the field of education since 2000, her main interest is dealing with issues related to the adoption of new technologies and working methods in schools, and teachers’ professional development. She works as an in-house expert in European Schoolnet, a network of more than 30 Ministries of Education in Europe.

Recently, she ran an industry-led project where more than 8’000 netbooks were implemented in schools in six different countries and oversaw its evaluation aspects (Acer- European Schoolnet Educational Netbook Pilot). Currently, she runs a LLP project where the eTwinning action is studied using novel technologies such as social network analysis and information visualisation (Teachers’ Lifelong Learning Network). Lastly, she is responsible for the monitoring action of eTwinning, a community for European teachers that currently consist of more than 160’000 participants (see the report from 2010).

Dr. Vuorikari also contributes to the field of education as an invited speaker in conferences and through her involvement in research workshops, committees and as a reviewer of scientific journals. Dr. Vuorikari holds degrees in education (M.Ed), hypermedia (DEA) and her PhD is from the Dutch research school for Information and Knowledge Systems. See More at: www.vuorikari.com

Professional Development workshop (14.30-16.00)

Teacher presentations:

1. The first speaker, eTwinning teacher Tiina Sarisalmi from Finland, has just shared her eTwinning experiences in her own professional development career in eTwinning (from eTwinning projects to running Learning Events), emphasising the mentoring opportunities given by eTwinning. The audience has time for questions to her. Download the presentation here

2. Romanian teacher, Daniela Arghir, tells about her experience in running a Learning Lab on Web Based Video – Educational Use within eTwinning. View all Learning Labs running this autumn 2011 here.

eTwinning National Support Service presentations:

1. In Portugal, the National Support Service offers both formal and informal training opportunities to teachers. Within formal training, there is a certified course based on blended learning model, comprising of 30 hours of coursework using Moodle. Each course has about 20 teachers. So to say, in Portugal, working in eTwinning can be used in different levels of teachers’ proficiency. There are 3 levels and involvement in eTwinning can be used to recognise work on levels 2 and 3. There is also informal training opportunities, such as school visits and supports, webinars and online support, that allow for peer-learning.

2. In Spain, the National Support Service  also offers teachers’ PD opportunities (to be continued)

General note: the study from 2010 concluded that in 58% of eTwinning countries can be used, at least to some extent, to support the goals of professional development programmes. Download the full report here (PDF). The report has been translated.

Download session animator, Adam Pokorny’s, DG Education and Culture, European Commision, presentation (pdf) 7.4Mb


EMINENT 2011 – Opening session

The opening session of the EMINENT and eTwinning joint programme kicked off with a video message from the European Commissioner for Education, Culture and Youth, Androulla Vassiliou.

The Commissioner congratulated the eTwinning network for its impressive work saying “eTwinning has grown into one of the most successful actions of the Lifelong Learning Programme”. She particularly noted the success of the initiative was linked to the simplicity and lack of bureaucracy, for new projects and partnerships to be set up. The role of the national and central support services was underlined, and she thanked European Schoolnet saying it “has played a crucial role.” She underlined the importance of the initiative, and said it is expected to grow and evolve into an even bigger network in future. See the full video message below.

Giovanni Biondi, chair of European Schoolnet and representative of the Italian Ministry of Education, Universities and Research was the second speaker, who focused on the huge changes that technology can bring to education.

“We are in the middle of a revolution in the educational environment,” he said.

“We created a network for schools, dedicated to in service training, material exchange and a community of practice around using technologies” continued Mr Biondi.

However he underlined that technology is a tool to facilitate school reform and changes in teaching and learning – rather than an end in itself.

Giovanni Biondi, Chair of European Schoolnet presentation (pdf)

Alin Adrian Nica, Chair of the EDUC Commission for Education, Youth, Culture and Research from the EU Committee of the Regions then took the floor.  He commended the impressive results of the eTwinning initiative, which have been noted by the Committee. A study launched by the Committee indicated the fast growth of eTwinning initiatives taking place at regional level. In addition he underlined that education geared toward sustainable development and media literacy is crucial for the challenges of modern life – indeed, these themes are covered by many eTwinning projects. These kinds of projects really facilitate cooperation between European citizens. He closed his speech by quoting William Gibson, the novelist and internet imagineer, saying “the future is already here, it’s just unevenly distributed”.

Alin Adrian Nica, Chair of the EDUC Commission for Education, Youth, Culture and Research, EU Committee of the Regions speech (pdf)

Donatella Amatucci, from the Italian Ministry of Education, Universities and Research, Directorate General for International Affairs was the next speaker. She echoed the remarks of Mr. Biondi, underlining that the revolution in schools is not finished – it’s still in progress and has to continue. She mentioned that eTwinning and indeed European Schoolnet are laboratories where we can experiment with new approaches.
These types of experimental spaces are important to help foster new types of partnership between schools. Such governmental initiatives should always target teachers and above all pupils.

Alessandro Clavarino, Liguria Regional Councillor for Education and Training was pleased to be engaged in the event as the next plenary speaker.
“In Liguria we have around 100 research projects for ICT in education,” he said.
The idea of such projects – like eTwinning – is to facilitate sharing and multiplication of new methods in schools. He remarked that there is plenty of interest in schoools for such projects.

Stefania Fuscagni, President of INDIRE, the Italian agency responsible for teacher training then took the stage.

“INDIRE is thrilled to be at the centre of the network at national level and also engage with the European scale,” she said.

She said there has been a growth in support for school programs – and now we see they can grow and expand themselves. This has been the case of eTwinning projects, which grow on the basis of new tools and approaches such as social networks and collaborative project based learning. She remarked the need to better communicate this success to the wider public (i.e. mainstream media).

Marc Durando, Executive Director of European Schoolnet explained the logic of the whole event. He said this was an ambitious programme bringing together three key networks, eTwinning, European Schoolnet and the Italian Classe 2.0 initiative. The first day is a joint programme between eTwinning and European Schoolnet’s EMINENT event for policy makers. This year, special effort has been made to bring together regional policy makers to engage them in the initiative. The second day is a joint event between European Schoolnet and Classe 2.0.

Marc Durando, Executive Director, European Schoolnet presentation (pdf)

Anne Looney, CEO of the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment in Ireland was the keynote speaker closing the session.  Anne gave an engaging speech covering eTwinning, community building, teacher/learner roles, competence standards for teachers and more. Some of her key points:

  • teacher community driving eTwinning is the key to it’s success
  • teachers are the most sophisticated knowledge workers, linking young people and the community
  • eTwinning gives teachers a chance to develop and grow, and set up projects in an easy way
  • the role of students is crucial – and need for consultation with them is clear. Some countries such as Ireland are including students (even very young ones) to develop policy and educational reform.
  • students always want more opportunities to connect with other students in partner countries

She closed her speech by posing some challenges to eTwinning: could the future involve students setting up ther own projects and then engage teachers, so they drive their own learning processes?

Anne Looney, CEO National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA) Ireland speech (pdf)


Oystein Johannessen

Oystein Johannessen is the current Chief Strategy Officer, Cerpus, former Deputy Director General of the Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research, and has been working for the Ministry for over 10 years. In 2009, Mr Johannessen was seconded to the OECD Centre for Educational Research and Innovation (CERI). In this capacity, Johannessen has been involved in many strategic initiatives, plans and programmes in education.

His career started about 20 years ago, working in higher education with tasks related to teacher training and professional development for public service and education. Oystein was instrumental in the establishment of the Norwegian School of Film and Television in 1997.

Oystein Johannessen has extensive international experience. He was a member of the European CommissioneLearning Programme Committee, has served on the Steering Committee of the European Schoolnet (EUN), and in 2002, he chaired the IT-Policy Group for Education and Research in the Nordic Council of Ministers. He has been an active force of the OECD New Millennium Learner Project (NML) since it started in 2007.

Oystein Johannessen holds a Master of Arts in Contemporary German Literature with Minors in English and Economics. He is a frequent keynote speaker invited both at the national and international level.

Balint Magyar

Member, Governing Board, European Institute of Innovation and Technology
 Former Minister of Education (1996-1998; 2002-2006)

Dr. Magyar obtained his MA in History and Sociology at the Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest. Having started his career as a researcher (1977-1990), he was a member of the Democratic Opposition as well.

He has become a member of the Hungarian Parliament in 1990 and served on several parliamentary committees until 2010. Appointed Minister of Education and Culture (1996-1998, re-appointed Minister of Education and Science, 2002-2006), he initiated and carried out public and higher education reform process. Made a move towards competency based education,  initiated a schoolnet program for spreading digital literacy, directed the introduction of the Bologna process, modernised the management and business structure of higher education institutions, and carried out a huge PPP program renewing the infrastructure of HEIs. He developed and passed the Act on Innovation, set up an Innovation Fund and founded the National Office for Research and Technology. He was Vice President of the National Development Council under the direction of the Prime Minister (2006-2008) and Secretary of State for Development Policy (2007-2008).

Dr. Magyar is currently a member of the Governing Board of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) and a Strategic Consultant of the Financial Research Plc.  at Budapest.

Carlos Medina

Carlos Medina is currently working at the Ministry of Education as Head of ICT European projects in the Educational Technologies unit. This unit is in charge of ICT Spanish program Escuela 2.0 (2009-2013). Through this program, the Spanish Ministry of Education in coordination with the Autonomous Communities is training teachers through new training materials, creating interactive resources, distributing 1.500.000 netbooks for students, and installing 80.000 digital classrooms.

He started his work in this field as a teacher, creating educational digital materials for the Spanish Curriculum and coordinating teacher online training courses. Teacher training materials has been also part of his responsibilities under some European Projects as Malted, Oasis, Netdays, Springday, etc.

During this period as Head of ICT European projects, he is in charge of the Spanish Ministry of Education website about European ICT European Educational Policies, Coordinator of the Spanish National Support Service and member of the European Schoolnet Steering Committee.

Bruce Dixon

Bruce Dixon is the co-founder and president of the Anywhere Anytime Learning Foundation. He has more than 25 years experience working with schools and technology, as a teacher, principal, software developer and an undergraduate college lecturer.

In 1987, Bruce and a partner established an educational technology company, Computelec. As a national company of more than 90 staff, the company was fundamental to the establishment and growth of laptop programs in more than 80 schools across 3 states in Australia, before he sold it in the mid-nineties to focus on consulting.

Since 1995 he has worked extensively in North America, and was in part responsible for developing the 1:1 program there, through the Anytime Anywhere Learning initiative. He consults to schools, School Districts, Education Departments, Ministries of Education as well as technology companies such as Microsoft, HP-Compaq, Apple, Bertelsmann and Toshiba on 1:1 teaching and technology in education. Over the past 3 years, Bruce has consulted in Australia, the US, Canada, Germany, UK and New Zealand, and has been invited to speak at Conferences in Australia, Asia, South Africa, the United Kingdom and North America. Bruce is also director of IdeasLab, Victoria, Australia.

Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou

Androulla Vassiliou is currently European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism, Youth and Sport.

Previously, she served as Commissioner for Health, from February 2008 to end 2009.

Ms Vassiliou studied law and international affairs in London and practiced law in Cyprus for 20 years (1968-1988). During this period she acted as legal advisor to The Standard Chartered Bank and, later, to the Bank of Cyprus.

Before her appointment to the European Commission, Ms Vassiliou was actively involved in politics in her home country, Cyprus. She was twice elected to the Cypriot House of Representatives: in 1996 and 2001 – representing the Movement of United Democrats (affiliated to the European Liberal Democrats and Reform Party ELDR).

As a Cypriot parliamentarian, she was an active member of the European Affairs Committee and represented the Cyprus Parliament to the Convention for the future of Europe as an alternate member.

Androulla Vassiliou was active in the field of international affairs and human rights as a President of the UN Association of Cyprus from 1978 until 1992 and as President of the World Federation of UN Associations from 1991 until 1995. She was unanimously elected Honorary President of the World Federation at the end of her term. Ms Vassiliou was also President of the Cyprus Federation of Business and Professional Women from 1996 until 2000, Vice-President of the ELDR and chairperson of the European Liberal Women’s Network (2001-2006). From 2002 to 2008 she chaired the Board of Trustees of the Bank of Cyprus Oncology centre in Cyprus.