In early April 2014, I accompanied three history UK teachers to a multilateral eTwinning workshop in the small city of Verdun in Lorraine in north-eastern France. Verdun is mostly known for the Battle of Verdun in 1916 which was the longest and costliest battle during WWI. The three UK teachers joined thirty-seven other teachers from France, Slovenia, Italy, Belgium, the Czech Republic and Germany who were all gathered for three days to set up eTwinning partnerships and projects on the theme of History and Remembrance of WWI.
As we are commemorating the centenary of WWI, the workshop already had a strong symbolic significance for eTwinning as most nationalities that took part in the conflict were represented. However when we were taken to trenches and underground tunnels nearby where thousands of men as young as eighteen years old fought and died the experience became even more poignant. To think that only one hundred years ago horrendous fighting was taking place a few kilometres away and here were forty teachers at the Verdun World Peace Centre setting up projects for their students exploring themes such as ‘Experience of WWI in my Family and Community’ and ‘Memories and Meaning of WWI for Teenagers Today’.
These eTwinning projects will give students aged fifteen to eighteen years old from the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, the Czech Republic and Slovenia the opportunity to connect and collaborate through the use of ICT. They will not only study the impact and memory of WWI in different countries but hopefully also reflect on the lives of the young people of a similar age engulfed in war at the time.
Isabelle Martin eTwinning Regional Officer (East and West Midlands)