This dual conference was a great opportunity for eTwinning to be introduced to 350 policy makers. The audience was composed of many different stakeholders, including Ministries of Education, representatives of EU institutions, local/regional authorities, School inspectors, teacher trainers, members of National Support Services and of Central Support Service. This ensured that both the plenary sessions and the workshops were both dynamic and productive.
The conference started with a video from Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou. “eTwinning is a European Union success story,” she stated. “Thousands of schools have used it to make learning more exciting and the professional development of teachers more rewarding. It deserves visibility and recognition. So it is fitting that the purpose of this event is to bring to the attention of policymakers the innovation and cooperation that eTwinning makes possible.”
A series of key representatives presented eTwinning achievements. The morning session ended with a keynote speech by Anne Looney, CEO of the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment in Ireland).
Participants were divided into 4 workshops held throughout the 2 day conference:
- Professional Development: The general consensus is that eTwinning already offers a great number of Professional Development opportunities, but policy makers need to address issues such as their evaluation and certification, and their consolidation at national level.
- Pedagogical Practices: “You can’t imagine the revolution that this new way of working has made in my pedagogical practice,” said a teacher attending the workshop. eTwinning helps integrate teachers into a strong, resourceful community. Moreover, teachers must face new challenges such as updating their e-competencies, an area where eTwinning can help through Learning Events, for instance.
- Teacher assessment and recognition: “A teacher who carries out eTwinning projects has a better chance of obtaining professional advancement more easily,” said Wojciech Wasylko, eTwinning Ambassador. Formal recognition has already been achieved in several countries. However, it hasn’t been properly structured, so now the ball is in the policy makers’ camp. Regarding the assessment issue, Poland has already integrated eTwinning skills as part of the teacher competency requirements. Should this practice be extended to other countries?
- Embedding eTwinning in educational policies: Before embedding eTwinning into educational policies, policy makers need evidence that eTwinning addresses important issues such as dropout rates, teacher appraisals, etc. Everyone agreed that eTwinning should stay flexible and free and shouldn’t be overly controlled, as it is a safe environment.
”eTwinning is an interesting and lively example of how educational programmes can fit into reality.
[...]In eTwinning there is an idea but also a set of services for the benefit of teachers” shared Stefania Fuscagni, President of Indire
The final session offered the floor to Professor R. Carneiro, who outlined his theory of “Generativism,” and to stakeholders implementing eTwinning. Adam Pokorny (DGEAC) declared that the Commission trusts, supports and encourages eTwinning now and for the future. Santi Scimeca (eTwinning Central Support Service Project Manager) highlighted the fact that eTwinning is ready enter the mainstream of educational practice with the support of the audience of the conference.
One of the goals of the conference was to gather recommendations from the stakeholders present in order to improve eTwinning and move a step forward. Michel Perez (French General Inspectorate), recommended that we “pay special attention to newcomers,” as the first step within eTwinning is crucial. Agustin Muñoz (Spanish National Support Service), stressed the importance of formal recognition of teachers’ input. The final recommendations came from Anne Looney:
List of presentations
- Giovanni Biondi, Chair of European Schoolnet presentation (pdf)
- Marc Durando, Executive Director, European Schoolnet presentation (pdf)
- Alin Adrian Nica, Chair of the EDUC Commission for Education, Youth, Culture and Research, EU Committee of the Regions speech (pdf)
- Anne Looney, CEO National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA) Ireland speech (pdf)
- Anne Gilleran, eTwinning Central Support Service presentation and videos (zip – 113.2Mb)
- Have a look on the blog dedicated to the Conference