Panel discussion – eTwinning and Competences

WP_20141129_012The eTwinning conference ended with some food for thought on eTwinning and Competences brought by the experts present in our panel discussion (Brian Holmes, from EACEA (moderator), Patrick Griffin, from University of Melbourne, Riina Vuorikari, from IPTS and Donatella Nucci, from Italian NSS).

Brian Holmes introduced the topic saying “The teacher role in learning with ICT has changed from knowledge expert to mentor, facilitator and orchestrator.”

The panel was challenged to answer three questions:

  • How can teachers help children of today to be ready for the challenges of tomorrow?
  • How would we describe the competences needed to make effective use of technology?
  • What can we do practically to support teachers?

Patrick Griffin reflected mainly on the first question stating, “There is a consensus that we need the content of the curricula to be the context to develop competences.” There is a need to shift the curricula to allow building competences such as: Collaboration, communication, critical thinking, coding and creativity. Teachers need to challenge students by formulating hypothesis (what if? What about?…). This is at the basis of collaborative problem solving skills.

Captura de ecrã 2014-11-30, às 11.25.33Reflecting on this need to challenge the environment Riina Vuorikari presented what does it mean to be digital competent. As she said being Digital competent is not being competent on the use of ICT tools, it is the combination of the attitude, knowledge and skills.Digital competence involves the confident and critical use of ICT for employment, learning, self-development and participation in society (EC, 2006)”

Captura de ecrã 2014-11-30, às 11.25.54Riina V. introduced theEC digital competence Framework, exemplifying the competences included in that framework with an eTwinning project kit (A taste of Maths ATOM) reinforcing that eTwinning widely promotes Digital and other competences.

Donatella Nucci affirmed that “School as it is conceived now does not satisfy the need to society we have now”. The focus of elearning shifted to learning and, therefore we need to create a different type of school and teaching. Donatella sees eTwinning as new way of teaching. Talking about Italy in particular she mentioned that Initial teacher training is more focused on content than in methodology. Hence there is an effort at a government level to implement new directions in several regions.

Captura de ecrã 2014-11-30, às 11.10.17The teachers in the audience were reminded that the competences needed for a collaborative teaching are Social and interpersonal skills. To finalize the discussion Brian Holmes emphasized that Teachers Professional Development is changing to include a wider reality.


Etwinning : challenging for the future

IMG_20141129_114402Beyond the community!  We are a family ! Bring back home  this atmosphere of enthusiasm and collaboration.”

These were the words Santi Scimeca used to introduce the last plenary session   in which we as teachers were given a lot of great hints for reflection  on and about our job from the panelists moderated by Brian Holmes from the Executive Agency for Education , Audiovisual and Culture .

Our  intervention has a very significative role in preparing  students for future lives said Patrick Griffin from the University of Melbourne …..and since Education has changed from Dickens’s times where everything was based on Facts we are supposed to teach students  how to use the competences developing their collaborative communicative, creative, coding, problem solving skills.

In short he suggested us having  them solve problems collaboratively  asking questions like “what about……?, lets’ try, what if……?, it depends…

Riina Vuorikari from the Institute of Prospective Technological Studies made us  reflect on what it really means to be digitally competent and how   it is important to have  a confident and critical use of ICT  required for employment, learning, self development and participation in society.

She showed us  three levels of proficiency in digital competences and how  to move between levels showing at the same time as joining an etwinning project  have the students  develop the  digital competences all in one!.

Ewinning as acquisition of skills and the best place to implement competences  even before  policy makers  suggested in the Recommendations on key competences in 2006   was what Donatella Nucci from the Italian National Supprt Service  told us  . Etwinning can give support on training  to all teachers who are experts in subjects but not in methodology since “ the teacher’s role has changed from knowledge expert to mentor, facilitator and orchestrator of learning ( Brecko et al.,  2013)

So eTwinning is the place to be now and at the same time  the challenge for  future   because   “ teachers  are not going to be  solo but they have to participate in a collaborative environment so that problem solving skills can be developed” Griffin  said .

But the last point of reflection came from the past from Cicero whose sentence in latin was shared by a warm final great applause.


eTwining as a never ending friendship!

Plenary Session II – Keynote address Lord David Puttnam: Resilient Education

Captura de ecrã 2014-11-28, às 10.33.34

Lord David Puttnam addressed the conference with an inspiring speech about Resilient Education.

Highlighting the importance of recognizing the need to change teaching practice and to change the perception the world has of school, Lord D. Puttnam mentioned that in education we avoid to argue the truth. This truth is that 96% of college principals believe their institutions are successfully preparing young people for the world of work but only 14% of recent college graduates agree. As he stated: “Students are embarking on a world that we can only imagine. In terms of challenge they will face. It is a very different world. Teachers have to help students to adjust to the new world. Their environment is insecure. It is our job to reassure that their world is not going down the drain.”

To accomplish this we need creativity and resilience. Creativity was described as a muscle that needs to be trained.

Captura de ecrã 2014-11-28, às 10.33.49

Resilience is a core competence that is stripped off the curricula. We don’t teach it and I am sure many don’t know how to teach it. And it is absolutely vital.  Teachers need to offer talent, imagination, commitment and belief. Because without it, it is unreasonable to except our students to absorb. I want my students to understand the potential. I want them to understand how good they can be. You are not end to be good on the things that you do, unless you have a sense of direction.

The direction nowadays is the digital world. Why is digital so transforming? Because it allow us to create the sense of awe in the classroom. “We are going through a revolution. It’s a digital revolution! it’s a teaching revolution. It’s a sense of excitement that I certainly am unable to share.”

Stressing his message with several movie trailers Lord David Puttnam motivated teachers in the audience to foster a resilient education.

Plenary Session I – Welcome to the eTwinning 2014 conference

eTwinning conference 2014

Over 500 of the most innovative teachers and education experts from across Europe met in Rome for the 10th annual eTwinning Conference. The theme of this years event is “Opening Education”. The goal is to stimulate ways of learning through ICT and digital content.

Davide Faraone

Davide Faraone, State Secretary for the Italian Ministry of Education

The opening plenary commenced with an encouraging welcome address from Davide Faraone, State Secretary for the Italian Ministry of Education. He highlighted the fact that 600,000 students in Italy use eTwinning and the Italian government see it as an extremely important educational tool. “It shows that the European Union is more than just a monetary environment, it is a living system.” Mr Faraone encouraged people to think of these tools as European and not just within your local country. “The Italian government is committed to these topics. Your work contributes to the growth of Europe.”

Antonio Silva Mendes

Antonio Silva Mendes, European Commission, DG EAC

Antonio Silva Mendes, European Commission, DG EAC discussed how the success of eTwinning comes through the community of teachers and that the theme of opening up education through technology is very timely. He highlighted three areas, linking with other colleagues and sectors within education; which will be the main success for the future, “valualization”; how we can show value of what we do and change in school environment; how can we link schools to enterprises and other areas of society?

eTwinning family

Anne Gilleran, Senior Pedagogical Adviser for eTwinning, introduced the eTwinning families from across Europe, presenting each of the countries within the network as well as the new eTwinning plus countries; Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova, Tunisia and Ukraine.

Marc Durando

Marc Durando, Executive Director of European Schoolnet

Marc Durando, Executive Director of European Schoolnet gave special thanks to the great enthusiasm from teachers from around Europe. He posed the question “How can we mainstream innovation in education?”.

He discussed the major achievements of eTwinning and highlighted the complex process behind innovation in education asking will innovation come from technology or pedagogy?

He presented some astonishing facts on the ecosystem of eTwinning. There are 320,000 schools in Europe, eTwinning reaches 40% of these. There are 6 million teachers in Europe and eTwinning reaches 5% of them. However, this represents only 2 teachers per school. “We must go from innovative teachers to innovative schools”.

He closed his plenary with a powerful quote from Nelson Mandela, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

Follow along the plenary sessions with a live streaming video

If you can’t join us in Rome for the eTwinning Conference, don’t worry! eTwinning reaches you with its live streaming video. To follow us in real time, you can go to the following page on Thursday 27 November from 2 to 4.45 pm CET (Rome time) and watch the plenary sessions:

Follow the keynote speech and contribute to the debate online using the hashtag: ‪#‎eTconf2014‬

PLEASE NOTE: There will be a coffee break at 15h45 (aprox.) – the streaming video may be interrupted. Check out the programme for more information.