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Integrating eTwinning in the Curriculum of Teacher Education

In 2014 I started working in Teacher Education in Howest University of Applied Sciences, after a career of twenty years of teaching in secondary schools. Just before I started teaching in higher education, I attended an eTwinning Professional Development Workshop in Tallinn, Estonia, on the theme of ‘coding’.

At the conference in Tallinn, I really learned what eTwinning is about and started my first project, called Four Pics One World, with secondary schools from different European countries. In this project, my third year geography students from Teacher Education collaborated with pupils from the secondary schools and created an app about their own country using simple coding tools.

In 2015, I took part in a webinar for Teacher Training Institutions, and there I met Hilde Øen (a primary school teacher at Spetalen Skole and eTwinning ambassador in Norway) and Anna Bruun (a lecturer in teacher training at UCN Denmark). We decided to investigate possibilities of setting up eTwinning projects between our institutions.

This resulted in the project ICT in the Classroom, a collaboration between Howest and Ostfold University College in Halden, Norway. The project was about exchanging apps and webtools and sharing good practices of ICT-integration in the classroom.

Hilde, Anna and I met again in a TTI-meeting in Brussels and there we decided to set up a bigger project called DLAB (Digital Learning Across Boundaries) together with Helen Caldwell (a lecturer at University of Northampton, UK) who was also present.

DLAB I was an Erasmus+ Key Action 2 project in which eTwinning was incorporated, which ran over three years and turned out to be a great success. A big international community of lecturers, teachers, students and pupils from Belgium, Denmark, Norway and the UK, worked on three different themes enhancing technology in the classroom: technology outdoors, STEM to STEAM and CLIL. The story continued with DLAB II Changemakers, a second Erasmus+ project with new partners from Spain. DLAB II started in 2019 and will end in 2022, and mainly focuses on developing changemakers and social innovation education.

As I had seen the enormous potential eTwinning had in teaching, I realised it was important to integrate eTwinning in the teacher training curriculum in Howest.

With PXL Hogeschool, another Flemish University College, we set up the national project Start to Teach, in which students shared their first teaching experience. In 2019, with the University College of Northern Denmark, we created a new project called Enhancing Technology in Teacher Education dedicated to sharing technology in science education.

Furthermore, eTwinning was also integrated into a number of courses in the Teacher Training Curriculum in Howest. In seminars for first and second year students, the basics of eTwinning are taught and experienced eTwinners from secondary education share their practices with the students. In the last year of their teacher training, the Howest students have to develop a project in the module called Project Based Learning and can choose to work on an eTwinning project in cooperation with teachers from a secondary school. This happened for the first time during autumn 2019 and it turned out to be a very good experience for our students as well as the teachers in the schools.

To conclude, I can say that eTwinning is a powerful tool to enhance learning and motivation in education. Therefore, I think eTwinning should be integrated in the curriculum of teacher training institutes all over Europe. The platform has great possibilities for internationalisation at home and it is important that eTwinning is well-known to student teachers, so that they can set up eTwinning projects themselves in their future careers.

Frederik De Laere
Lecturer in Geography
International Coordinator Howest Education Department
eTwinning Ambassador in Flanders, Belgium