Bratislava, 24 April – 26 April 2014
Five UK teachers and one member of the UK National Support Service attended the seminar of 40 delegates from eight countries.
This seminar was aimed at eTwinning beginners, some already registered in a project, and some about to start an eTwinning project, who were interested in how to really make their projects collaborative, from a wealth of experts present. The seminar included workshops on Web 2.0 tools to enhance project work and inspire students, time for practicing their use, training on the eTwinning TwinSpace used to upload project work, and case studies from eTwinning ambassadors from Spain, Slovakia and the UK on successful projects they have run and how they set them up. Participants were from Austria, UK, Czech Republic, Norway, Spain, Slovakia, France and Hungary.
UK attendee, Biology Teacher Richard Walden writes:
Bratislava, on the banks of the Danube just downstream from Vienna, is a mixture of old and new. As capital of one of Europe’s newest independent states and with a young, ambitious population keen to make its mark in Europe, where would it be better to hold an eTwinning seminar to meet teachers from other countries, exchange ideas and start new projects?
The impact and application of eTwinning became apparent from the first warm up meeting. We were divided randomly, into two groups of 4 - 6 people and as a group were asked to respond to generic questions such as: How are you using eTwinning? What projects do you have underway? What are eTwinning’s advantages and disadvantages? Rapidly it became clear that in our group, projects were being carried out successfully with a wide range of learners from nursery school pupils through to adult learners. Everyone acknowledged that eTwinning provided a safe environment for interaction and could be accessed easily by staff and students. On the other hand, it lacked some features such as the ability to video conference. Once the whole meeting reconvened to describe the outcomes of the group meetings it was obvious from the nods around the room that many shared the same feelings. We also heard the good news that the eTwinning website is due to be updated in the Autumn, with new functionality including a video conferencing facility.
The main day of the seminar focused on using TwinSpace and how to embed additional applications into it. I found this particularly useful. I was also amazed at the range of applications that could be used, such as Padlet, Calameo, Wix, Penza and Titan. These can be embedded into the TwinSpace to enhance activities. I only seem to get the hang of these sorts of things by having the opportunity to “play” with them and fortunately during the day we were able to test out different applications and pick up ideas as to how they could be used.
The final day was spent in sessions viewing examples of good practice in using eTwinning from a variety of different groups. For me this reinforced the idea that eTwinning could be used over a wide variety of ages and span a range of languages used partnerships. My only concern was how to find the time to think up the great activities that are possible using TwinSpace!
At the end of the seminar there was a session allowing discussions between participants to set up new eTwinning projects then and there. This prompted a lot of animated discussion around the room and I discovered that within a very short time the range of projects had been initiated and were up and running.
Returning from the seminar I felt that it had been a very productive meeting. There had been the opportunity to meet other teachers from a range of backgrounds and share ideas and experiences. We had been able to spend time learning how to use TwinSpace effectively as well as trying out different applications that could be used in eTwinning projects. Finally, there was the opportunity to set up partnerships with new contacts that had been made. Bratislava and its Old Town proved an excellent backdrop for this.
Thank you Richard for this atmospheric blog. This captures the event which inspired the 40 delegates from eight countries.
One of Richard’s fellow UK teacher attendees writes:
"The best seminar I have ever attended, it really satisfied my passion for multiculturalism and social interaction! It taught me that international collaboration is so simple and therefore a must! It is my vision to promote intrigue and enquiry within students, driving them to discover more about their own and other local, regional, national and international cultures, whilst realising that cultures are not static, but are interesting, exciting and in some cases, close to home. I'm looking forward to using eTwinning as a platform to succeed in doing so!"