Truly a tradition in Valletta, Malta!
Professional development in qualified international surroundings can be a rare – that is, expensive! – commodity for teachers. Luckily, there are several European Union programs funding a variety of courses offered to the educational sector, mainly within the Lifelong Learning framework. The one targeting school education is Comenius and the corresponding program for adult education is Grundtvig; however, major changes are to take place after 2013. Another important Lifelong Learning program is eTwinning that makes is easy for schools to connect internationally. eTwinning does not provide direct funding but offers great possibilities to free professional development for teachers. Further, it’s easy to dock eTwinning projects to other EU programs.
In mid-April 2012 I took part in an Advanced eLearning Course in Malta, arranged by Across Limits
and funded by a EU Grundtvig grant; the course was a follow-up of a corresponding basic course from 2009. This time we were only three participants – Michael from Ireland, Elisa from Portugal and me. Perhaps one of the most interesting parts of the one-week course focused on installing and using the open source
LMS (= Learning Management System
that both Michael and Elisa are using. Moodle definitely is a true learning tool encouraging collaboration, instead of mainly dealing with administration the way many traditional school platforms seem to do. Of course, Moodle can be tailored exactly to the needs of a specific user and there is a huge and very active user community willing to help the ‘newbies’.
One of the best parts of any international meeting for educators is, of course, getting a fresh perspective on your own work by talking to colleagues from other countries. I really appreciated the discussions with Michael and Elisa (Elisa is used to working with GoogleApps with her colleagues, by the way) and meeting my Maltese colleague and friend Daniel again was a a special bonus! Daniel does an amazing job at his school using open source tools and I especially like the way he ‘recycles’ outdated computers by installing open source Linux on them. Light weight Linux runs great even on computers that are not top-notch by today’s standards and Daniel’s students can explore them as much they want!
Looking back to the course and the discussions we had, two things seem pretty obvious. First, cloud services focusing fully on collaborative learning – like GoogleApps (free!) and Office365 (cost?) – are here to stay. Second, mobile learning will continue gaining momentum at an ever increasing pace. It sure would be interesting to put together a course for educators about these subjects! Another EU project, perhaps? What do you think Michael
and others :)
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