During the last part of the plenary session on the last day of the Conference, a discussion on serious eTwinning issues was organized with the presence of a panel which contributed their expert opinion. The first part featured an introduction to the topics to be addressed and the main part was dedicated to an interactive Q & A that the audience had to answer with the presentation of the panel’s expert opinion. Tweets were also sent by the audience and read out. Last but not least, Mr. Antonio Silva Mendes, Director of the Lifelong learning policies and programmes in the European Commission gave a speech making a statement that encapsulates the meaning of eTwinning: “eTwinning is a service that can be put to the service of society”.
“eTwinning is spreading a positive virus in Europe, the virus of pedagogical innovation,” stated Riina Vuorikari, moderator of the panel discussion on the last day of the Conference. During this interactive session all eTwinners could vote to express their thoughts about eTwinning School Teams and the Class Room of the Future.
“Teachers’ collaboration can be increased through School Teams.” said Riina. “Why? Because of the power of immediate and contextualized help from colleagues! This is also shown by TALIS research of the OECD in 2009. Cooperation among staff members creates social and emotional support, exhange of ideas and practical advice. Collaboration enhances professionalism, feeling of self-efficacy and even prevents stress and burn out.“
The details of the votes can be found in the presentation. Let’s take a look at the opinion of the eTwinners at the conference in Berlin.
What is the main obstacles for teachers to work with their colleagues?
1. There is never enough time to work together.
2. Curriculum does not support interdisciplinary team work in my school.
3. Working in a team is difficult.
Adam Pokorny (DG EAC European Commission) saw this as an important message for policy makers. “Teachers constantly receive new tasks. They do not get the chance to work on the challenges of the future of education. If policy wants to make changes, we have to think about that first. ”
What is the main benefit for teachers to work with their colleagues?
1. Share competences and complement each others weaknesses.
2. Increase motivation both in teachers and students.
3. I learn a lot from colleagues from my school.
4. Pedagogical benefits for students are very clear, besides it s showing a good example to students.
“This is the same message as we find in the TALIS research. Teachers learn most from each other. There is an important task for the schoolleaders. eTwinning can be an opportunity for the professional development of the school team. But how many heads know or see this opportunity? “ Adam Pokorny asked.
“We as teachers expect our students to work together, so we should be a model for them. “ Inge De Cleyn tweeted.
What do eTwinners think about social networking?
Is eTwinnning a model for the classroom of the future?
Relationships between teachers and technology in the classoroom of the future. In the future…
1.… new technologies support teaching, but teachers are still the core of teaching.
2.… new technologies can take a lot of workload from teachers to free them for other tasks such as face to face time (for tutoring and mentoring with students).
3… new technologies can support teaching, but only with a limited scope.
“Learning has to go outside the schools, integration of new technologies can be very important to reach this objective. Teachers should go outside, go beyond school and class rooms, so pupils can also do some informal learning.” Riina added to this discussion point.
All eTwinners in this session shared the last thought about the relationship between teachers and technology. “Pupils do not pick up expertise or technology from the teachers, they only take over the passion for a subject. The passion for learning is the most important thing we can teach our pupils. This can never by replaced by a machine, technology or online tool.” The thundering applause of all the attendees for Peter Clarke who gave his view from out of the audience showed a major consent on this.
Now all eTwinners can go back home and spread this passionate virus across Europe.
There are 155 000 teachers in Europe and they have a great influence on the society.
The teachers have worked hard on eTwinning and made it what it is, a great tool for teachers to use when they work together cross borders. The students learn a lot about Europe and become a citizen in Europe as well as in their country.
Today pupils can get information easily and use it as they want and we have to give them motivation on how to get these information and how to use it. The generations before didn´t have this access to informations so they are learning as well as the pupils.
The teachers have to get the tools to move on to the next level in ICT so the pupils can keep on learning and the teachers has to learn from each others so they can move on.
Etwinning is a big success for the European Union, because the teachers are using it to cooperate, it brings schools and teachers together, and it gives the pupil opurtunity to work together without any cost.
It is also important that the amount of money which is given to the eTwinning will not suffer for the crises but rather increase so more schools can work in the eTwinning.
We have to have the budget for education secured so the education can go on. We have to expect from the eTwinning project that it has some influence on the community. That it will be the platform for schools to work together. And those who use it will benefit from it.
We much hope that eTwinning will expand to the whole world instead of being just in Europe.
The teachers in Europe that use eTwinning are not artistic but rather teachers who are willing to work together with teachers all over Europe and are open minded and willing to take part in the future.