Sunday, January 18, 2015

#eTwinning10 - down the memory lane

In January 2005, I remember waiting impatiently for the eTwinning portal to be launched. I was looking for European friends for my students. The idea was to start international cooperation using a virtual environment and, at the same time, to develop the students’ English communication and ICT skills. We had prepared an English website for our school in order to facilitate partner finding and our Moodle environment was ready and waiting.

When the portal was opened, I was among the first to register. Within a week I found two enthusiastic teachers willing to try something new and plunge into unknown, one from Poland and the other from Greece. We discussed the project plan and decided the objectives and contents. The title of the project was "To Be Young in Europe in 2005". A couple of weeks later, at the beginning of February the project had been approved and we were able to start.

That spring was great fun and lots of different activities. Web-based international project work was new to all of us, as well as the use of Moodle in teaching and learning. The students were excited when they got to meet other young people online, chat and post letters in forums. We experimented with all kinds of tools and made a lot of mistakes, but it did not spoil the feeling of excitement. We felt that we were educational innovators and pedagogical experimentalists and visionaries.

We were interested in finding out about the pupils' use of ICT. It was easy to create and carry out surveys in the Moodle. So, we made quite a few questionnaires for the pupils about their use of personal computers, mobile phones and game consoles. At that time, 40% of the students didn’t have computers at home and only 50% had their own mobile phones. Today, the percentages would be very close to 100. I found the project report on the net. It still seems surprisingly fresh and up-to-date, even after 10 years. :)

As the students became friends when they learned to know each other, the same happened with us teachers. My Greek partner Panagiotis Kampylis moved to Finland to write his doctoral thesis and is currently working in the European Commission's Research Centre in Seville. I lost contact with Iwona Bujlow from Poland, but now she is again back in eTwinning.

The first eTwinning project is like a beloved child. Not quite perfect, but all the more dear and cherished. That spring, in 2005, I learned so much. I learned about project-based learning, web-based learning and project management. The following autumn I started two new projects and had much clearer idea, from the start, about what to do and how to construct a collaborative project in a virtual learning environment. As a result our project  won the eTwinning competition in 2006 in the series "pedagogic innovation". Since then it has been 10 years of projects, learning events, conferences and seminars, as well as a huge number of friends all over Europe. It sure has been worth it!

1 comment:

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