eTwinning - Exploring the kingdom of animals
ETwinning is a community for schools in Europe. The European action eTwinning brings together different European schools offering the opportunity to share ideas, pedagogical approaches and ICT tools and create authentic and exciting projects. It provides a safe digital platform for staff (educators, head teachers, librarians etc.) that includes support, tools and services for communication, collaboration and development of common projects.
A total of 42 countries participate in eTwinning. Apart from all member states of the European Union, in 2015 the European Commission inaugurated eTwinning Plus, that involves new schools from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldavia, Tunisia and Ukraine. ETwinning supports 27 languages.
ETwinning is organized in three layers: the Public Portal, the personalized Desktop and the Twinspace. The Public Portal offers online tools for teachers to seek potential partner teachers and schools, start projects, exchange ideas, find and share best practices, search seminars and professional development events and start working together, immediately without bureaucratic procedures using various customized tools available on the eTwinning platform. The Public Portal is the meeting point of over than 300.000 teachers, over than 142.000 schools and over than 42.000 projects between two or more schools across Europe. In Greece eTwinning is considered a very successful program. More than 12.800 teachers, 7.300 schools and 6.500 projects involving 10% of Greek teachers participate actively and every school year they earn European awards (http://www.etwinning.net/en/pub/news/news/european_prizes_winners_2015.htm). The second layer of eTwinning is the teachers’ personalized Desktop, for registered members, where they have access to tools of communication and creation of contacts with potential partners. Lastly, the TwinSpace, the digital space of the development of the collaborative projects.
ETwinning started in 2005 as the main action of the European Commission’s eLearning Program and since 2014 it has been integrated in Erasmus+, the European program for Education, Training, Youth and Sport. Its Central Support Service is (CSS) operated by European Schoolnet, an international partnership of European Ministries of Education developing learning for schools, teachers and pupils across Europe and is regionally supported at national level by National Support Services (NSS).
As part of the eTwinning Project the 3rd Primary School of Agia Paraskevi, Athens, Greece along with Scuola Primaria "Luigi Masi", that is part of the Instituto Comprensivo Assisi 3, Perugia, Italy, Hjortsbergskolan Ljunby, Sweden, and Doukas School, Athens, Greece developed the project “Exploring the kingdom of animals” The project (http://twinspace.etwinning.net/5336/home) included activities in which pupils participated in a virtual classroom of 60 pupils, they presented themselves and were engaged in collaborative activities. The duration of the project was the school year 2014-2015. The project was evaluated and awarded the Quality Label (http://desktop.etwinning.net/files/desktop/pdf/label/qualitylabel/etw_qualitylabel_69858_en.pdf)
The case study illustrates the collaboration of three primary schools in Greece, Italy and Sweden with the use of Cloud Computing. The main platform that hosted the project was eTwinning. Simultaneously teachers and pupils participated in a virtual classroom of 60 pupils using PowToon that was provided by the school in Italy, where they created, shared and discussed presentations.
The case study demonstrates the outcomes of digital learning with the use of a variety of online tools, such as PowToon, ArcGIS online, Padlet, Linoit, Tagxedo, Trello, YouTube and Slide share. Digital content was created by pupils working in groups, exchanging ideas and communicating their work to their peers from different European countries. Pupils developed digital skills, cultivated spatial citizenship and empowered their European identity.
TwinSpace offered tools for communication between teachers. They utilized the tool “Teachers’ bulletin” to plan, organize and develop a collaborative project. Through Teachers’ bulletin peer guidance or advice was provided to the members of the partnership that leaded to the creation of an informal community of learners between teachers.
The case study encourages teachers to get involved in collaborative projects with schools from different European countries regardless of their level of digital skills, exchange didactical approaches and tools, share experiences, provide and/or receive guidance and gain recognition of the pedagogical value of their project with eTwinning Quality Labels.
The title of the project was “Exploring the kingdom of animals”. The first phase of the project included the planning process. Teachers communicated and set the aims and the activities of the project. They agreed on a time range and discussed about digital tools that would support their collaboration.
In the second phase teachers and pupils developed the content of the project. The first axis was the introduction of the members of the school classes and the preparation of presentations about “Our countries and towns”, “Our schools” and “Ourselves”. Pupils participated in a digital classroom using PowToon, created presentation about themselves and shared them with their classmates from Italy and Sweden.
Pupils first observed the presentations that the teachers created about themselves and after they created their own presentations with teacher guidance at school and at home. The activity was very successful. Pupils mastered the tool very quickly and they were very enthusiastic about the outcomes. The presentations on PowToon were also embedded to a blog that was created by the Italian teacher Simonetta Leonardi. To ensure that presentations would be viewed from each partner, teachers created a “Who is Who” Quiz on a padlet that was completed by pupils of the partner schools.
After the introduction of the members of the partnership pupils were asked to choose a favorite animal and four groups were created: invertebrates, mammals, fish and birds. Pupils created presentations about animals, which were uploaded to SlideShare and embedded to TwinSpace. An evaluation activity was designed to test pupils’ knowledge about the categorization of animals using a Trello board. Pupils also shared their favourite animals on Linoit boards that created collaboratively. Last they composed poems about animals based on book “The Greedy Whale” by Evgenios Trivizas. Pupils saluted their classmates with a wordcloud with summer wishes that was created with Tagxedo in the shape of a sea turtle Caretta and was uploaded on a padlet with a wallpaper of the image of an Ionian Sea beach.
The last phase comprised the presentation and evaluation of the project. Teachers invited parents and presented them the project. The project passed an evaluation process by the NSS and was awarded the eTwinning Quality Label that was recognition of its elevated pedagogical value.
On the TwinSpace teachers, pupils, parents and visitors can view the presentations, collaborative boards and other activities that were created as an outcome of the partnership of the European schools that participated in the eTwinning project “Exploring the kingdom of animals”. These resources can be used to give teachers ideas on which approach and digital tools will best apply for them and their pupils. A blog and other media clips are available on the Web.
The case study presents a project that was planned and developed by three schools from Greece, Italy and Sweden. The basic aim of the project was the collaboration of teachers and pupils with the use of digital tools and cloud computing. The case study can be used as a guide for teachers to design collaborative activities within their school community or with different schools in regional or European level.
Apostolopoulou, A. Carvoeiras, L. & Klonari, A. (2014). Cultural Heritage and Education. Integrating Tour Maps in a Bilateral Project. European Journal of Geography,5:4, 67-77. http://www.eurogeographyjournal.eu/articles/050504CULTURAL%20HERITAGE%20AND%20EDUCATION%20%20INTEGRATING%20TOUR%20MAPS%20IN%20A%20BILATERAL%20PROJECT%20KK.pdf
Donert, K. & Parkinson, A. (2013). Geomedia case-studies in the curriculum. The curriculum with digital-Earth. Belgium: A publication from the digital-earth.eu network.
Donert, K. (2014). School on the Cloud. Needs Analysis survey. State of the Art Report. School on the Cloud Summit, Athens 2014. Retrieved at 21/04/2014 by http://www.slideshare.net/TheSoFGr/soc-summit-2014-k-donert
TwinSpace of the project “Exploring the kingdom of animals”: http://twinspace.etwinning.net/5336/home
Who is Who Quiz http://el.padlet.com/cathyapostolopo/urgqtymetkls
Presentation of SoC and eTwinning project https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rt8GlTK8gos