Embedding eTwinning in educational policies

Anne Looney structured her workshop around 3 main issues:
1. Where policies happen
2. Identify burning platforms
3. How eTwinning can respond to these burning platforms

1. Where policies happen

2. Identifying burning platforms to be tackled in the coming months/years
Funding

  • Drop out rates
  • Performance gap (class, gender, race)
  • Initial teacher training
  • Out of date textbooks/ quality of teaching material
  • Curriculum
  • Transition between school / work / university
  • Aspirations
  • Special needs in mainstream education
  • Teacher appraisal
  • Unrealistic demands

3. How can eTwinning address these burning issues?
The last question generated a debate between policy makers and educational practitioners attending the workshop.
Notably, from a teacher’s point of view, eTwinning has remotivated her: “eTwinning is an amazing channel to make new friends across Europe, which enables eTwinners to share best practices.
Policy makers are not that interested in the development of friendships among teachers; they prefer to observe an impact on pupils.
Thus the Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency representative mentioned the ongoing impact survey, which will be available mid 2012. It should provide evidence that eTwinning increases pupils’ motivation and autonomy.

To conclude:
The workshop continued the through the 2nd day of the conference.
By the end of the session a common agreement had been reached: eTwinning should stay flexible and free and shouldn’t be overly controlled, as it is a safe environment. The general feeling was, “Do we really need to embed eTwinning in education policies? Don’t we risk diluting the essence of eTwinning?” It was further agreed that the space for pupils should be fostered, as they are at the heart of education policies and they themselves can bring innovation into the mix.

Teacher Collaboration Networks in 2025 (PIC meeting)

Teacher Collaboration Networks in 2025: What is the role of teachers’ networks for professional development?

About the workshop: The Tellnet work is presented by Yves Punie and Romina Cahia from IPTS. This is part of the European Schoolnet’s Policy Innovation Committee’s meeting, starting at 14.30 on Nov 17.

Learn more about the workshop!

http://tellnet.eun.org/image/image_gallery?uuid=ec93c252-983e-443a-9c87-5a9dc52f5d89&groupId=10461&t=1319706240611

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.”

 

Downloads

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

 

eTwinning workshop: Teachers Assessment and Recognition (16 Nov)

A common concern in eTwinning is that a lot of work is done by teachers but not recognised at any level, being formal (MoE, school management) and informal (colleagues, pupils, parents). If we want to promote eTwinning as an integral part of mainstream education, the role of teachers should be highlighted. Appropriate means to measure this role should be explored. Some countries already value and recognise eTwinning activities (projects, Learning Events, PDW).

A study report “Teachers’ professional development” published in December 2010 explored how eTwinning and national and local teachers’ professional development schemes interact. The study showed examples of recognition and accreditation of eTwinning activities where they are built-in elements of formal professional development opportunities, e.g., participation in an eTwinning project and resources produced within a project can be used to gain career credits; eTwinning online training courses or workshops count for professional development; some ambassador-type activities can be encouraged with monetary incentives.

It was notable, though, that out of twenty-eight countries for which the study could gather the information, it is only in seven countries where eTwinning activities can be fully taken into account for formal professional development. In nine countries, the situation was the opposite: there was no link between eTwinning and formal professional development. In eleven countries, some synergies were found. Thus, the study concluded that in 58% of the thirty-one eTwinning, eTwinning can be used at least to some extent to support the goals of professional development programmes. Download the full report here (PDF).

Come on Wednesday 16 November to the Teachers Assessment and Recognition workshop (14:30-16:00; Sala E – PAD B ammezzato) to know more about this topic and to discuss with other teachers and experts from different countries. The workshop will be moderated by Patricia Wastiau, European Schoolnet.