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Online Conferences for eTwinning Schools and Initial Teacher Education – Autumn 2021

In November and December 2021, eTwinning organised two online conferences.

The Online Conference for eTwinning Schools took place from 24 to 26 November 2021 and highlighted the synergies among the elements which characterise eTwinning Schools and the challenges posed by the “new normal”.

During the opening day, more than 460 people followed online the keynote speeches of the first plenary session on “blended learning”.

Vladimir Garkov, Policy Officer at the European Commission, opened the conference stressing the importance of creating green and inclusive schools and encouraged eTwinners to keep engaging and collaborating in order to be a role model and inspire other teachers and schools. He also talked about a number of Commission initiatives aimed at facilitating lifelong learning and achieving the European Education Area by 2025. Ulrike Storost, Policy Officer at the European Commission, introduced the main topic of the conference by explaining what the Commission is doing to make teaching “more effective, engaging and inclusive with “blended learning”. Moreover, she highlighted the relevance of eTwinning and School Education Gateway resources for teachers’ professional development. The plenary ended with the speech of Prof. Chang Zhu, VUB University, who illustrated the concept of “blended learning” from a pedagogical point of view, giving both theoretical and practical examples.

During the three-day conference the participants deepened their knowledge of the various fields of the eTwinning Schools Mission and how these contribute to the “blended learning” model, and analysed the adaptations and changes needed to tackle the challenges of the new reality.

More information on the Online Conference for eTwinning Schools can be found here.

The Initial Teacher Education Online Annual Conference took place from 8 to 10 December 2021 and engaged initial teacher education institutions and new teachers in eTwinning by showing its full potential in the light of the “new normal”.

Once again, the first day of the conference was online and live streamed, with more than 390 people following the opening speeches.

The first plenary was kicked off by Wilhelm Vukovich, Programme Manager at the European Commission, who welcomed all participants and stressed that, during the COVID-19 pandemic, eTwinning has proved to be an excellent source of online and “blended learning” tools which have helped teachers to better prepare for the “new normal”. The conference went on with the speech of Akvile Motiejunaite-Schulmeister, Education Policy and Systems Senior Analyst at the European Commission, who outlined the main findings of the Eurydice report “Teachers in Europe - Careers, Development and Well-being” and pointed out how the teacher’s role is evolving as new demands and expectations arise due to the pandemic.

Next, Ilana Cicurel, Member of the European Parliament, talked about her report “Faire de l’École le cœur battant de l’Europe” in which she advocates for an increase in teachers’ mobility and for a European common pillar in the initial training of teachers and trainers to create a shared educational culture. Lastly, Maria Chiara Pettenati, Research Director of INDIRE, gave concrete examples of how the teaching and working experiences gained through participation in the eTwinning community affect Italian teachers, and shared some key results of the study “The impact of eTwinning on the in-service professional development of teachers in Italy”.

On the second and third days of the conference, 250 participants attended numerous workshop sessions which aimed at highlighting how eTwinning equips teachers with the right skills and knowledge to prepare them for the “new normal”.

More information on the Initial Teacher Education Online Annual Conference can be found here.