Fredrik Ekstedt, all smiles together with a great bunch of European colleagues!
I’ve been involved in EU eTwinning school collaboration from the very start in 2005 and I must say the Cyprus conference for eTwinning ambassadors – in early November 2011 – was one of the very best so far. Our Cypriot hosts did an awesome job with the arrangement and the workshops sparked extremely interesting discussions about the future of eTwinning and the European Union views on international school collaboration in general. I was also lucky to get in touch with a fellow ambassador and school leader in Pafos, Nikos Lekkos, who really showed me what the Cyprus hospitality is all about. A very big thank you for taking me to your school in Peyia, to your beautiful home and for helping me in every imaginable way during the days before the conference. I do owe you, Nikos! Please tell your students I will definitely show them some photos with lots of snow from northern Sweden – providing we get some, that is! Winter should be getting started here now in late November but it’s raining instead – not fun at all..
Some of the conclusions of the conference are crystal clear: eTwinning will continue to provide a simple and safe way for the European schools to get connected and the international dimension in education will become even more important further on. However, there is no way the collaborative projects can be added on top of everything else teachers and students already work with; the international work must
be a natural part of the curriculum instead. The e-safety workshop leader, Karl Hopwood
, mentioned a very interesting publication from UNESCO in a post on Google+
a couple of days ago: Media and Information Literacy Curriculum for Teachers
should be on top of the reading list for all policy makers and school leaders who aim at providing a cutting edge education for the students of today – and those of tomorrow.
Tools of the trade
We had also discussions about many web tools available for eTwinning projects and especially the ‘edu package’ , Google Apps for Edu
, offered for free by Google. The new Google social platform, Google+, includes among other things a very interesting ‘instant video meeting’ called Hangouts that looks extremely promising. No downloads needed, just a laptop with a webcam and you are up and running almost instantly. Check it out!
The ambassador advantage
What about the role of the European eTwinning ambassadors? Well, there sure seems to be a lot of work to be done, partly in spreading the eTwinning message and partly in supporting schools that are just getting started with international collaboration. The ambassadors’ network can also sometimes offer valuable direct contacts in a way that I could not even have imagined five years ago. Personal face-to face contacts and collaborative ICT tools is a combination that packs a mighty powerful punch in education!