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.
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, 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?
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, 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.”