Beyond School Projects – A Report On E Twinning 2008 2009


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Beyond School Projects – A Report On E Twinning 2008 2009

  1. 1. BEYOND SCHOOL PROJECTS A report on eTwinning 2008-2009
  2. 2. Publisher Central Support Service for eTwinning (CSS) European Schoolnet (EUN Partnership AISBL) Rue de Trèves 61 • 1040 Brussels • Belgium • Authors Christina Crawley, Anne Gilleran, Santi Scimeca, Riina Vuorikari, Patricia Wastiau Design coordination and Christina Crawley, Alexa Joyce, Nathalie Scheeck, language issues Silvia Spinoso Design, DTP and printing Hofi Studio, Czech Republic Photo Credits Gérard Launet, Laurence Mouton / PhotoAlto Getty Images / Lifetime learning Print run 300 ISBN Published in September 2009. The views expressed in this publication are those of the authors and not necessarily those of European Schoolnet or the eTwinning Central Support Service. This book is published under the terms and conditions of the Attribution 3.0 Unported Creative Commons licence ( This publication was created with the financial support of the Lifelong Learning Programme of the European Union. This publication reflects the views only of the authors and the European Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.
  3. 3. eTwinning Beyond school projects Table of contents Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 Chapter 1 Statistics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 Chapter 2 User Survey . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19 Chapter 3 Learning Events . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33 Chapter 4 eTwinning Groups . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 43 Conclusions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 53 1
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  5. 5. eTwinning Beyond school projects Introduction The eTwinning action will celebrate its fifth anniversary in 2010. When it was launched in January 2005, its objective followed the decision by the Barcelona European Council in March 2002 to identify school twinning as an opportunity for all young people to learn and practice Information & Communication Technologies (ICT) skills, as well as promoting awareness of the multicultural European model of society. At the same time, it recognised the need to take school collaboration further and give it a whole school dimension. In agreeing with this, the European Commission proposed that eTwinning could be a major catalyst in intensifying the sorts of cooperation already underway among schools. eTwinning was then identified as one of the major actions of the eLearning Programme to foster school collaboration by using ICT. The overwhelming success of eTwinning in recent years, both from a quantitative and qualitative point of view, has also triggered various reflections on the direction that schooling (teaching and learning) was taking. In particular, it has become clear that the traditional paradigm of school collaboration was too restrictive, that ICT had become part of the normal school environment, and that learning (both for pupils and teachers) was taking place in more fluid contexts – in terms of space and time. When the European Commission’s Lifelong Learning Programme (LLP) was launched in 2007, eTwinning (as part of the Comenius action) started playing an essential role in education, far beyond what was initially foreseen. The main assets of eTwinning have always been flexibility and lack of formalities. As a typical grassroots initiative, teachers became empowered to decide what to do and how to do it, with the sole requirements of exploiting ICT and collaborating with colleagues in another European country. eTwinning 3
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  7. 7. eTwinning Beyond school projects offered the rest: online environments to find partners and develop school collaboration projects; pedagogical support and help; training initiatives; and, recognition for what many teachers had been doing already. In short, eTwinning offered a system composed of various elements in which innovative teachers could feel at home, find other peers, and include other colleagues. Such a system, at first populated by the most advanced teachers, has quickly become a model for others. The eTwinning environment is suitable, not only for contacting and communicating, but also for sharing practice and experience. Thus, eTwinning has slowly, but firmly, become ‘the place to join’ for all teachers interested in going beyond their school’s horizon, meeting colleagues in Europe, and helping their pupils work together with foreign peers. During the fall of 2008, a revamped eTwinning platform was launched. Having taken on implicit and explicit suggestions from the community of over 50 000 eTwinners registered at that time1, the eTwinning Portal was transformed into something new: a fresh new look with new tools, all aimed towards an approach in line with Web 2.0 trends. The reasons are based on an analysis of user behaviour and expectations as seen in the results of the 2008 survey discussed in Section 2. It was realised that eTwinners used the platform to do much more than beginning projects and then working in pairs (or in Twins). It was found that teachers logged into the platform to exploit the potential of a community of thousands of colleagues. The level of interaction among eTwinners had turned multidimensional. School projects had become only one of the many activities that eTwinners expected to do once on the platform. For instance, the dimension of peer and rapid learning was quickly growing in importance. The role of eTwinning was simply to provide the tools and the environment to facilitate – and stimulate – this process. During late 2008 and early 2009, eTwinning was enriched by diversifying the offer and providing more opportunities. eTwinners can, of course, still login and use the platform as they did before, but with the added value that it now offers many social networking features to facilitate communication and networking. 1 The number of registered users in June 2009 stands at 65 500+. 5
  8. 8. Teachers can still find partners – even more easily than before – and begin projects (for which they can be awarded Quality Labels and prizes). In addition, eTwinners can now also participate in various other activities, such as attending online workshops (eTwinning Learning Events) and join groups. They can share their resources with colleagues and subscribe to – and comment on – project kits. All in all, eTwinning has gone beyond a project development environment and towards a one-stop-shop for teachers. Significantly, the eTwinning motto has changed from School partnerships in Europe to The community for schools in Europe. All the changes and improvements summarised above would have not been possible without a careful evaluation and analysis of the evidence of usage. This report provides a digest of such evidence in the following sections: 1 Statistics An online community of almost 65 000 registered teachers (as of early June 2009) creates an enormous amount of information: user behaviour, website analytics, user interaction, tools used, etc. This information is analysed and discussed with various stakeholders on an ongoing basis in order to provide a reading of the trends and perspectives of eTwinning. The data and comments available in this report provide the most interesting and important findings. 2 User Survey At the end of 2008, only a few weeks after the launch of the new platform, an online survey was launched addressing eTwinners2 from all countries. A total of 1308 respondents completed the questionnaire, 2 Teachers registering in eTwinning are commonly called ‘eTwinners’. 6
  9. 9. eTwinning Beyond school projects composed of closed and open questions. The chapter in this report presents the most interesting trends and identifies some issues for the future development of eTwinning. 3 Learning Events In line with the objective of providing simple, effective, and informal learning opportunities to eTwinners, a number of Learning Events (online moderated workshops lasting one week) were launched. These events were very successful in the first trial, which confirms the need for an online community where learning is strictly connected to the context in which it takes place. 4 eTwinning Groups Exploiting the potential of subject-based, or topic-based, sub- communities of users, a number of pilot eTwinning Groups were established to test the opportunity to mould the eTwinning platform in this direction. The results of the pilot show the interest of eTwinners in forming teams (although virtually) with colleagues and sharing practices and experiences beyond school projects. 7
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  11. 11. eTwinning Beyond school projects Statistics Chapter 1 Data resulting from the usage of the eTwinning platform is extremely useful for monitoring trends and opportunities, and developing strategies to correct or adjust features and tools. Such data can be roughly classified in two large areas: • Data from web analytics (concerning usage of the Portal and all the connected tools). • Data from interaction between users and various eTwinning tools (e.g., registration, the Desktop, social networking features and the TwinSpace). This chapter gives a quick overview of the most telling trends and figures which have been considered essential pointers for any decisions concerning the short- and mid-term adjustment of eTwinning. Portal One of the main assets of eTwinning since its launch has been the critical mass of users, which has been rapidly growing. When the eTwinning Portal went online in January 2005, the aim was to quickly obtain a large number of visits, which would naturally lead to a satisfactory number of school and teacher registrations. As a brand new initiative, the main aim was to reach teachers. 9
  12. 12. Figure 1. Monthly visits 50000 The graph in Figure 1 shows the 45000 growth in total visits during the same month (February) over the 40000 past five years. It can be seen that 35000 growth was stable during the first 30000 four years (more or less 80% per 25000 year), and has greatly accelerated in the 2008-2009 school year, with 20000 a growth, compared to the year 15000 before, of more than 300%. This is 10000 a clear indication of the response to the launch of the new platform. 5000 0 February February February February February 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 Another view presented in Figure 2 shows a comparison between the 2007- 2008 and 2008-2009 school years. The trend displayed in Figure 1 is confirmed for all months. Figure 2. Monthly visits 2007-2008 and 2008-2009 1 September 2008 – 19 June 2009 1 September 2008 – 19 June 2009 600,000 600,000 300,000 300,000 1 Sep 2008 - 30 Sep 2008 1 Nov 2008 - 30 Nov 2008 1 Jan 2008 - 31 Jan 2008 1 Mar 2008 - 31 Mar 2008 1 May 2008 - 31 May 2008 These two graphs summarise the great impact eTwinning has made on teachers in Europe; with a steep increase during the last school year of teachers interested in visiting the eTwinning Portal and possibly becoming part of the large eTwinning community. 10
  13. 13. eTwinning Beyond school projects Registrations Teachers registering in eTwinning are commonly called ‘eTwinners’ and constitute an increasingly established network of practitioners who find the platform an ideal place to share experiences, ideas, and eventually find a partner for a project. Figure 3. Daily member registrations 300 2008/09 250 2007/08 19388 16307 200 2004/05 2005/06 2006/07 6167 10063 12775 150 100 50 0 1.1.2005 ➜ 1.9.2005 ➜ 1.9.2006 ➜ 1.9.2007 ➜ 1.9.2008 ➜ 31.8.2005 31.8.2006 31.8.2007 31.8.2008 14.6.2009 Figure 3 shows the trend expressed by daily user registrations on the Portal. The figure above the bubbles (representing school years) shows the total number of members registered during the time period. It can be seen that, despite the fact that eTwinning is now no longer a novel initiative and a consolidation phase started around two years ago, many teachers continue to register. The average number of teachers registered per school is still rather low (some 1.3 teachers per school, for a total of 53 000 schools), and this implies that we are still at a phase where more new schools need to become involved. The next phase of eTwinning will most likely see more teachers registering from each school. It should also be noted that out of more than 65 000 members registered, some 61 000 are still active on the Portal (using the tools offered and logging in). This indicates an unusually high retention rate, demonstrating the establishment of a very committed (and loyal) community of users. 11
  14. 14. The main intention of eTwinning has been to provide a platform to find partners to begin collaborative projects. We have seen in various sections of this report that this is only part of the story, as many other activities take place. However, the most explicit and tangible way to become part of eTwinning is still by establishing projects with foreign colleagues. Since the launch of eTwinning in 2005, more than 12 000 projects were registered and a total of 10 781 were approved by National Support Services, involving nearly 20 000 schools across Europe. Altogether, projects have involved more than 28 000 teachers (many schools are involved in more than one project), and this means, with an average of 50 pupils per project, more than 500 000 pupils. Although projects normally last one school year, many continue for longer. At the moment (June 2009), nearly 11 000 teachers are involved in active projects. Figure 4. Daily projects registrations 50 2008/09 45 2007/08 4211 3555 40 35 2006/07 2004/05 2005/06 2749 30 418 1502 25 20 15 10 5 0 1.1.2005 ➜ 1.9.2005 ➜ 1.9.2006 ➜ 1.9.2007 ➜ 1.9.2008 ➜ 31.8.2005 31.8.2006 31.8.2007 31.8.2008 14.6.2009 The graph in Figure 4 presents the number of daily registrations since the launch of eTwinning and the totals per school year. A steady increase shows that finding partners and beginning projects is still a frequently used feature of eTwinning, which does not seem to lose importance despite the introduction of other opportunities – such as Learning Events, eTwinning Groups and social networking in gener- al. 12
  15. 15. eTwinning Beyond school projects Figure 5. Number of project members five and more 11 % The nature and composition of the projects registered shows the four 5 % diversity and richness of eTwinning. The vast majority of projects are three 11 % still between two partners, as shown in Figure 5. However, an increasing number of projects (27%) involve more than two two 73 % partners, indicating an increase in networking among eTwinners, and a level of commitment that goes beyond the obvious difficulty of managing multi-partner projects. Figure 6. Age groups in projects Age group 12 > 21 55 % Mixed 29 % Another interesting factor is the age group of the pupils involved in projects. As expected, the majority of projects involve secondary schools, where foreign languages play an important role. However, the presence of pre-primary and primary schools is relatively important (16%), and this is coupled by mixed Age group 0 > 11 16 % age groups, with pupils ranging from primary (< 11) to secondary levels. On average, projects involve 50 pupils (typically, two classes of 25). 13
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  17. 17. eTwinning Beyond school projects Community In October 2008, the eTwinning Portal was updated with new features meeting the need of registered teachers to get in touch, and stay in touch, with other eTwinners. The first feature to be improved was the 'Contacts' area which, in a clear reflection of all social networking websites, is where friends can share what they do. Until the launch of the new Portal, eTwinners had a total of 203 000 contacts (accumulated over four years of activities). Five months after the new Portal was launched, this figure had increased by 30% and reached 270 000. On the eTwinning Desktop, eTwinners can browse other member profiles and see which projects they are involved in and their contacts. This feature has proven a very powerful method for making contact with other teachers. In particular, eTwinners can easily flag that they are interested in sharing ideas by simply putting a ‘me too’ in other teacher profiles. In just five months, 33 000 ‘me too’ posts were left. If a member wishes to be more specific, they can write a message on another member’s wall. So far, more than 13 000 messages have been left. But most importantly, eTwinners can use the internal messaging system, which enables direct private communication. Almost 1 100 000 messages have been exchanged among members. eTwinners can also enrich their profile with information on what they are doing, upload pictures of their activities (4 000 so far) and signal their interests. When eTwinners cannot find a partner by using the partner-finding search engine, they can leave a message in the forum. With an average of more than 10 000 messages every three months and an incredibly high rate of replies, the eTwinning partner-finding forum has become one of the most powerful tools for finding a partner for eTwinning projects, as well as for Comenius Partnerships, and other international activities. Finally, eTwinning has been promoting Project Kits3 as a way to more easily design and register a project. With the launch of the new Portal, it is now possible to indicate interest in a specific kit in order to facilitate the partner- finding process. Almost 4 000 members used this opportunity in just five months. 3 A readymade plan for a project based on a specific topic. 15
  18. 18. TwinSpace All eTwinning projects are given a collaborative workspace called a TwinSpace. It is up to the teachers involved to decide whether they want to make use of this space in the project, or choose other tools. The TwinSpace is an opportunity, not an obligation. Since the launch of eTwinning in 2005, some 10 781 projects have been approved by National Support Services, and a corresponding number of TwinSpaces have been created. Currently, there are more than 140 000 members on TwinSpaces. The vast majority (88%) had at least one login, whereas 66% had at least six logins (indicating an interest which goes beyond mere curiosity). Other indicators measuring the usage when compared to the total number of TwinSpaces created can be seen in the table. Twinspaces with at least ... % of the total 1 login 88% 1 folder created 43% 1 web page created 20% 1 file archive created 51% The usage of the TwinSpace is demonstrated by the overall figures in the table below, related to the key features such as file and picture uploads, publishing of webpages (public or private), and messages (in forums and mailboxes). Feature Number Files uploaded 161 528 Photos uploaded in photo galleries 134 771 Web pages 142 392 Messages in forums 195 124 Sent messages in mailboxes 407 572 16
  19. 19. eTwinning Beyond school projects Another interesting figure is the publishing rate. Almost 3 000 TwinSpaces (30%) have been published by the administrators and are therefore visible on the Internet without having to login. These can be accessed from the TwinSpace section on the public Portal ( Points for Consideration The eTwinning action is growing! This is an indisputable fact. However, a certain consolidation can also be perceived and the arrival of a more explicit ‘social networking’ approach has triggered contacts between teachers in ways not previously available. How to keep this momentum, encourage interaction, and also continue to support project work in schools are priorities for eTwinning over the next few years. 17
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  21. 21. eTwinning Beyond school projects User Survey Chapter 2 As seen in Section 1, a great deal of development in encouraging eTwinners to interact with each other has taken place during the 2008-2009 school year. The context for this development is better understood by examining the results of a user survey carried out during this period. This section gives an overview of the main findings of this survey, which used both closed and open questions. In the period 23 November – 23 December 2008, the Central Support Service (CSS) of the eTwinning action conducted a survey with participants in cooperation with National Support Services (NSS). An online survey available in 23 languages was used. Overall, 1 308 valid responses were received by 23 December. 2.1 Profile of respondents The distribution of the respondents by country is a fair representation of eTwinning users across Europe. Not surprisingly, the very large majority of the respondents in the survey were teachers. Over two-thirds of the respondents teach in secondary schools, and over a quarter in primary schools. Overall, foreign language teachers dominate the picture. They account for almost half of the respondents (in primary schools, they account for more than one- third of the respondents). 19
  22. 22. Table 2. Main subject taught by teacher 55 % ■ Primary ■ Lower secondary ■ Upper secondary 50 % 45 % 40 % 35 % 30 % 25 % 20 % 15 % 10 % 5% 0% ges cts ITC ture metry Other istory raphy bjects iology iology enship ricular hysics cation mistry nology gua ubje tics/ era o H eog l Su B /Soc r P Edu Che ech Lan hool s forma and Lit tics/Ge G hoo Citiz oss Cu gn ies ntal T orei ary S c I n ges ema re-s c Stud Cr nme F im Pr gua M a t h P So cial viro Lan En 2.2 How are eTwinning projects developed? Time management eTwinning projects are almost equally developed during and outside school time. Table 3. When did you mainly develop your project? 35 % 30 % 25 % 20 % 15 % 10 % 5% 0% During school Mainly during school Approximately Mainly in Exclusively during time time, but few activities 50% of the project out-of-school time out-of-school time were carried out in during school time, out-of-school periods 50% out of school 20
  23. 23. eTwinning Beyond school projects Obstacles and challenges As can be observed from the following graph, the most important obstacles and challenges (each representing about a quarter of survey participants) are (1) lack of time and (2) problems with access and functioning of ICT. Difficulties in finding appropriate partners were mentioned by one survey participant in six. All other obstacles were mentioned by less than 15% of the respondents. For instance, only 8% mentioned language issues. It is also important to note that about 25% of the survey respondents reported that there were no main obstacles or challenges (the combination of ‘no obstacles’ and ‘no answers’). Table 4. Main challenges and obstacles encountered during the project 0% 5% 10% 15% 20% 25% Lack of time Problems with access and functioning of the ICT equipment at school level It was difficult with difficult to find an appropriate partner It was difficult to organise collaborative work online The eTwinning online platform is rather difficult to use Other colleagues didn’t support the project My partner left the project Language problems when communicating with my partner Other The project was difficult to integrate in the curriculum It was difficult to formulate ideas for a project The school management did not support the project Pupils were not interested Parents did not support the project There were no obstacles for me No answer 21
  24. 24. Collaboration and communication Collaboration with other teaching colleagues occurred with two thirds of the survey participants. Parents and members of the school board were involved in about one quarter of the cases. Less than 20% of the respondents said that they had not cooperated with other members of the school community during an eTwinning project. Table 5. Collaboration with other members of the school community 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% Teaching staff Parents School board Administrative staff Other non-teaching staff Library staff Other Counselling department No collaboration with other members of the school In terms of communication, almost 80% of survey respondents discussed their eTwinning project with the rest of the teaching staff. In 60% of the cases, there was formal communication with the school board and, in about half of the projects, information about the eTwinning project was published on the school website. 22
  25. 25. eTwinning Beyond school projects Table 6. Communication about the project 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% It has been communicated to the rest of the teaching staff It has been communicated to the school board It has been published in the school’s website or links to the project can be found there Letters/emails were sent to parents It has received coverage in local media (press, radio, television) It has been part of lectures in teacher training activities Articles have been published in educational reviews or journals Other 2.3 Impact on teaching practice Participant teachers were asked to indicate the effect of eTwinning on their teaching skills and some other issues. As can be seen from the graph below, for virtually all of the items listed in the survey, more than 75% of teachers stated that there had been an impact or a high impact. The only exception is local authority recognition (e.g., credits). This is due to the fact that such recognition schemes do not exist in all the countries participating in eTwinning. ‘It was fun’ unexpectedly received the highest scores. 23
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  27. 27. eTwinning Beyond school projects Table 7. Impact on teaching practice 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100% It was fun Investing in taking part in futher innovation projects Improving your ICT skills Improving your foreign language communication skills Getting to know other school systems Learning about new teaching methods Improving your teaching skills Improving your skills to work in interdisciplinary teams Local education authority's recognition ■ High impact ■ Impact ■ Very little impact ■ No impact An interesting question is whether teachers who indicated in the survey that one of the reasons for participating in eTwinning was to improve their teaching skills actually achieved their goal. We examined more closely the four skills shown in the previous graph (ICT, foreign language, teaching and teamwork) and compared the results among all teachers (who replied to this question) and teachers who indicated that one of the reasons (or the main reason) for participating in eTwinning was to improve their skills. We created a score, ranging between 1 and 4, based on the answers (4 = high impact; 3 = impact; 2 = very little impact; and 1 = no impact). The results of our analysis are shown in Table 8. 25
  28. 28. Table 8. Impact scores for skills improvement Teachers who participate in All teachers eTwinning to improve teaching skills Improving ICT skills 3.45 3.26 Improving foreign language skills 3.49 3.20 Improving teaching skills 3.38 3.10 Improving team work skills 3.23 2.98 Clearly, the impact of eTwining on skills improvement was even higher among teachers who joined eTwinning because they more specifically wanted to improve their teaching skills. A similar analysis was carried out for teachers of a particular subject. We looked at the four subjects most taught by the teachers (see Table 2): foreign languages, primary school subjects, informatics/ICT and languages/literature. Overall, there appeared to be little deviation from the average score: the impact on skills improvement was somewhat lower with teachers of language/literature; primary school teachers increased their ICT skills above average; and ICT and maths teachers improved their foreign language skills more than the reported average. 2.4 Impact at school level For seven out of the eleven areas listed in the graph below, between 75% and 90% of the survey participants stated that there had been an impact, or even a substantial impact, on the school. The greatest impact was ‘increasing student motivation’. As can be observed from the answers, participation in eTwinning also improves the school culture and climate, with a greater willingness to collaborate and develop new projects. 26
  29. 29. eTwinning Beyond school projects Table 9. Impact of eTwinning on the school 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100% Increasing students’ motivation Willingness to start futher innovation projects Fostering collaborative work among students Improving relations between teachers and students Developing students' responsibility and autonomous work Developing students’ learning skills Improving personal relations among students Fostering communication amongst teachers Attracting other colleagues’ interest towards eTwinning Attracting parents’ interest towards European projects Improving teaching to students with special education needs ■ High impact ■ Impact ■ Very little impact ■ No impact 2.5 Overall satisfaction 96% of the survey participants who started an eTwinning project were satisfied or very satisfied. In particular, the fact that over half of them stated that they were very satisfied is a remarkable result. Table 10. Overall opinion of eTwinning I'm very satisfied 53 % I'm not very satisfied 4 % I'm not satisfied at all 0,4 % I'm satisfied 43 % 27
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  31. 31. eTwinning Beyond school projects 2.6 Respondents who did not start a project Out of the 1308 survey participants, 284 or 21.7% had not started an eTwinning project yet. As shown by the following graph, two main reasons stand out for not having started a project: lack of time and the fact that no appropriate partner had been found. Table 11. Reasons for not starting a project 0% 5% 10% 15% 20% 25% 30% 35% 40% Lack of time I haven’t found an appropriate partner Other Language problems when communicating with my partner The eTwinning online platform is rather difficult to use Problems with access and functioning of the ICT equipment at school level It was difficult to formulate ideas for a project Other colleagues didn’t support the project It was difficult to organise collaborative work online The project was difficult to integrate in the curriculum My potential partner left the project planning The school management did not support the project Pupils were not interested After investigating eTwinning, I didn't find it useful or interesting Parents did not support the project 29
  32. 32. 2.7 How to improve eTwinning in the future? The most frequently mentioned issues Respondents were asked to express their views about how to improve eTwinning in the future. The following five points were the most frequently raised issues: More (official) recognition Increased general and official recognition for the effort and time spent on projects, and for the skills developed through eTwinning participation. This confirms what has already been identified through an ad hoc question in the questionnaire. By comparison, participation in Comenius Partnerships is sometimes mentioned as providing much better recognition. More and clearer instructions More and clearer instructions on how to proceed on various aspects of eTwinning, i.e., how to use the TwinSpace; the difference between the TwinSpace and the TwinBlog; how to (successfully) find a partner; how to proceed when a project is accepted; what to do when partners abandon a project that has already started, etc. Some suggestions call for the provision of handbooks or offer ideas with a particular focus on beginners and newcomers. Highlighting examples of good practice, or giving examples of inspiring projects is considered part of a demand for more instructions on the development of projects. Simplified platform and tools Clearly, the point is not to limit or reduce what can be done on the platform with its various tools, but to make it simpler and more user-friendly, as well as more intuitive. 30
  33. 33. eTwinning Beyond school projects Increased opportunities to meet face-to-face Some suggestions refer to the desirability of meetings between teacher partners from different countries as soon as a project is accepted, or later on, or even at the end of the project. Some respondents also suggest inviting pupils/students to major meetings (e.g., the annual eTwinning conference); others mention that head teachers should be invited to meetings (e.g., meetings that reward European Quality Labels). Some others advocate more meetings between countries. More training actions This is requested with regard to various aspects, at various levels, and in different ways. Project management, e-safety issues, ICT, specific eTwinning issues, and aspects related to content-clusters (such as waste management, etc.) are mentioned as possible topics for training. These actions are sometimes envisaged at local, national, or European levels. Virtual/online, as well as face- to-face training actions are suggested. The existing Professional Development Workshops are often mentioned and more such workshops are requested. 2.8 Summary and points for consideration The survey was a good opportunity to collect evidence from eTwinning participants about their experiences, the obstacles they face, the impact they observe teaching at various school levels, and how they believe eTwinning could improve in the future. In addition to gathering evidence that confirms a high level of satisfaction, more precise information is available about what works and where to dedicate efforts for further improvement. In the coming year, a follow-up study will investigate in more detail some specific issues. A follow-up case studies investigation will be launched to gain an even better understanding of the challenges to address. 31
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  35. 35. eTwinning Beyond school projects Learning Events Chapter 3 One of the issues raised by the respondents in the user survey carried out in the 2008-2009 school year was the provision of more training opportunities. In this section, we examine a response made at European level to meet this demand by giving an overview of the first series of such events launched in spring 2009. As eTwinning has become an important educational force in Europe, several countries have initiated eTwinning online training courses on a variety of topics for their teachers. In some countries, the training forms part of a wider in- service training – and completion of the course has career implications for participants. In other countries, the training is provided online for “eTwinning Ambassadors” to promote the concepts on a wider scale. However, not every National Support Service (NSS) has organised online training, and there is a body of teachers who have no access to such training. It was therefore considered appropriate to implement some learning activities at central level, as well as coordinating information regarding all available online courses organised by the NSS. The challenge to provide online training at European level required a creatively different approach to the traditional online training concept. The approach taken was to provide within the eTwinning platform a learning space called the Learning Lab. Within this space, an initial learning experience was offered; what was termed a Learning Event, designed to stimulate thinking, interaction, and reaction on the part of the participants, as well as produce further activities and resources. A pilot programme was then initiated. 33
  36. 36. As 2009 has been the European Year of Creativity and Innovation, it was proposed that a series of eTwinning Learning Events be organised around this topic. These were short intensive online events of one week duration, where four experts presented materials in a variety of media, animated discussions, and provided learning activities on the topic of creativity. Attendees committed to follow each day's activity over a short period of time. The events included interaction in both synchronous and asynchronous time; where participants carried out a series of activities, and the outcomes were posted online or discussed on the event blog. Table 12. Overview of the Learning Events and the language used Learning Event Moderator Language Podcasting in the Creative Classroom Sebastian Dorok English Creative Use of Media Jukka Orava English Exploring Creativity Bettina Zeidler German Mind Mapping Pierre Auboiron French The four events took different approaches to the concept of creativity. Three of the events (Podcasting in the Creative Classroom, Creative Use of Media, and Mind Mapping) were tool-based and all activities were very focused. 3.1 Call for participants The booking of participants began in early March 2009 with an announcement of the four events on the public section of the eTwinning Portal. The participants were given a link to an online application form where they were asked to offer some basic personal information such as their name, email address, age range, subjects they teach, age range of their pupils, etc. They were also asked about the languages they spoke, and whether they had experience of online courses or groups. This initial call elicited a large response with 581 completed surveys. 34
  37. 37. eTwinning Beyond school projects 3.2 Profile of participants The profile of the participants is interesting insofar as female applicants outnumber male applicants by almost seven to one; it would also have been interesting to examine this ratio in the global set of eTwinning participants. The age range is spread fairly evenly between 25 and 55 with the middle range being the most represented. The numbers drop dramatically in the 55+ age group. In terms of level taught as determined by age of pupil, there is an even spread between primary, middle secondary, and upper secondary – with the bulge being in the middle secondary range. Two of the questions related to applicant experience of online activities such as groups or online training. The majority of the applicants (67.5%) stated that they had some experience of either group or online training, while a much smaller group (13.3%) said they were very experiences; and the rest (19.12%) stated that they had no experience. In response to the questions 'have you taken an online course before?', some 58% answered yes, while 38% answered no. It may be inferred that the ‘experience’ mentioned is some type of online group activity other than training. Applicants were also asked what languages they spoke. As may be seen from Table 13, English was by far the most common language. French, German, Polish and Spanish were the next most frequently spoken languages. Table 13. Languages mentioned 350 ■ Languages mentioned 300 250 200 150 100 50 0 Cr rian n Da h h En tch Es lish Fin n Fre h Ge ch G n ng k an h hu n Ma ian rw e ien rtu ish ma e Ru ian S n Slo lovak Sp ian Sw ish Tu sh sh tia ec nis Hu ree No ltes Ro ales ia nis a Iris Lit Italia ia i rki n rm ari Po Pol an ed ton an eg n ss n Du Cz oa lga g ve g Bu 35
  38. 38. The same technique was used to examine the range of subjects taught by the applicants. The response ‘languages’ includes all reference to language, literature, grammar and linguistics, and does not reflect the name of the language mentioned. However, the analysis reflects the same spread as the languages mentioned in Table 13 above. As can be seen from Table 14, language teaching is the most common discipline, followed by an even spread among the other areas. Table 14. Subjects taught by applicants 450 ■ Subject taught – Top range 400 350 300 250 200 150 100 50 0 pre school/primary maths languages ICT/technology science/enviroment Two questions related to the expectations of the participants. The results of the collated responses are shown in Table 15. The surprising response relates to the number of applicants who mention practicing a foreign langauge as an expectation. This was not necessarily something that was planned when offering this series of events. Obviously, professional development is very important to teachers and most mention this point with respect to practicing their skills in order to offer a better service to their pupils. Many also mention that they hope to meet teachers from other countries. 36
  39. 39. eTwinning Beyond school projects Table 15. Question: What are your expectations for this event? 180 ■ What are you expectations for this event? 160 140 168 152 120 100 112 80 60 40 70 20 0 To learn something new To improve teaching To meet other To practice a foreign skills/methods teachers/exchange ideas language Finally, in the question relating to what types of activities they would like to see in these events, the various reponses included discussion, chat, collaborative work, practical demontrations and exchange of ideas. Some also mentioned practical guidelines on how to apply their knowledge in their teaching. 3.3 Participation This section examines the actual participation in the events, as opposed to the applications received. The Creative Use of Media is the most popular (43%), followed by Podcasting (34%) with a fairly even distribution between Mind Mapping (12%) and Exploring Creativity (11%). The next table shows the distribution of applicants per country. The data has been cleaned in this graphic – and so duplicate applications and other test applications have been removed. 37
  40. 40. Table 16. Global - Twenty-seven countries represented ■ Countries – global 300 250 200 150 100 50 0 Turkey Austria Belgium FR Belgium NL Bulgaria Cyprus Greece Czech Republic Denmark Estonia Finland France Germany Hungary Iceland Ireland Italy Latvia Lithuania Luxembourg Malta Netherlands Norway Poland Portugal Romania Slovakia Slovenia Spain Sweden UK As can be seen, Poland outstrips the other countries in terms of numbers applying. One explanation for this is that the Polish NSS ran a concerted promotional campaign for the events, and this campaign seems to have had extremely positive results. What is also interesting is the relatively high number of applications from some smaller countries such as Finland, Ireland, and Estonia. The larger countries such as France, the UK, Germany and Italy have fairly low representation. This has obvious implications for the promotion of such activities, and for a closer liaison between the Central Support Service and the National Support Services in promoting such activities. A total of 460 applicants were offered a place. The participation figures may be seen in the table below and they represent 78.5 % of the total applicants contacted, which may be considered as high, bearing in mind that two of the events ran in the month of May, one of the busiest times of the school year. 38
  41. 41. eTwinning Beyond school projects Table 17. Number of participants per event 140 ■ Actual participants N = 321 120 133 130 100 80 60 40 20 28 30 0 Podcasting Creative Use of Media Exploring Creativity Mindmapping 3.4 Evaluation All the event moderators provided an exit satisfaction poll and 80% of participants responded. The level of satisfaction across the events was very high with a 95% satisfaction rate between the excellent and good range. Table 18. Overall satisfaction of the Learning Events Satisfactory 5 % The participants were also asked to rate the activities they most enjoyed, and it was interesting to note that in the Good 29 % three events that made use of the online classroom Elluminate vRoom™, the experience was rated very highly. It seems that Excellent 66 % participants really enjoy the synchronous experience of video and audio contact. Another test of the success of an event is how many of the participants fulfilled a sufficient number of tasks to obtain a certificate of participation. As can be seen from the table below, the percentage of participants who actively engaged in 39
  42. 42. these events is high. In the most practical event, the tasks were highly focussed and obviously fewer participants fulfilled all of the tasks required, and this to a lesser extent is also true of the Creative Use of Media event. For the Exploring Creativity event, the criteria was more aimed at participant interaction and activity rather than fulfilling specific tasks, and therefore, was possibly easier to achieve. In addition, as the numbers were smaller, perhaps the level of support was higher. Table 19. Percentage of users receiving a certificate of participation Event Percentage of participants receiving certificates Podcasting 36% Creative Use of Media 47% Exploring Creativity 58% Mind Mapping 73% Finally, the question of the importance of obtaining a certificate of participation must be considered. Many participants came to learn, interact, and experiment with new ideas. It is difficult to gauge just how much of a further incentive a certificate offers to potential candidates. 3.4 Summary and points for consideration Lessons learned As explained in the introduction, these four Learning Events were the first phase of a pilot and are due to be repeated in the autumn of 2009. Were they successful? Bearing in mind the strong positive response and enthusiastic comments of the participants, it may be concluded that they were successful. Of course, there are still many aspects to improve, and important lessons were learnt from this first attempt. 40
  43. 43. eTwinning Beyond school projects Future actions This form of learning seems to provide stimulation and enthusiasm among eTwinning teachers and provides them with yet another way to network with each other, improve their professional development, and exchange ideas and practices. The recommendation is therefore to expand the current programme, and provide more Learning Events on a variety of topics. These could include such topics as: • How to run an eTwinning project • How to use the eTwinning Desktop and TwinSpace • Training for moderators of eTwinning Groups The list is suggestive and by no means exhaustive. The possibilities offered by this type of online training are endless and can be adapted to suit needs as the situation warrants. Finally, it may be said that launching these Learning Events was a leap of faith, which has proved successful. The unexpected outcomes that some participants experienced are especially heartening – as one participant wrote: “For me, this was a unique opportunity to see how other people work, meet dedicated teachers, share, learn, see, analyse, understand and feel new things. It was both a very stimulating and demanding week that brought a lot of knowledge and a huge boost to my self-confidence. I enjoyed every minute of it. Thank you for this wonderful adventure! It was much better than I expected.” When a pebble is cast into the water, nobody knows where the ripples touch or end! 41
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  45. 45. eTwinning Beyond school projects eTwinning Groups Chapter 4 In response to the growing demand for a more social approach in eTwinning, as highlighted by the responses of teachers to the user survey, and also by teachers in other eTwinning activities such as conferences and workshops, a pilot activity called eTwinning Groups was launched. eTwinning Groups are interest-based online communities for teachers who are registered in eTwinning. The groups are currently only operating on a pilot phase leading to a public launch in 2010. The first phase of the pilot ran from October 2008 to the end of January 2009, followed by a second pilot period. This report gives an outline of the pilot evaluation. The first phase of the pilot included 203 European teachers from more than twenty countries. They were recruited for the pilot either through a call by from National Support Services, or though the Central Support Service. The main aim of the pilot phase was to get a better understanding of teachers’ experiences with online communities and their expectations regarding such online communities. Another aim was to gain a better understanding of how such online communities function and under which constraints they flourish. Three different groups participated in the pilot. Two groups were newly created: The Creative Classroom and Maths, Science and Technology. The third group, 43
  46. 46. entitled School Leaders, had already been running informally for a year prior to the pilot. Pre and post surveys were conducted with participants as well as an evaluation of observations by coordinators and other Central Support Service staff. 4.1 Pre-survey Teachers’ experiences in online communities Previous experiences and skills with online communities varied considerably. In the pre survey, 32% of the respondents said they were ‘very experienced’ or ‘quite experienced’, and 29% had ‘some previous experience’, while 39% were ‘novice’ or ‘little experienced’. Some 74% of respondents said that in their previous online communities they liked ‘taking part in discussions, posting in forums and replying to questions’, 68% mentioned they preferred ‘reflecting on their experiences, problems, etc.’, and 57% said they liked ‘sharing interests through photos, links, etc.’ In the survey, 27% selected all three options (taking part in discussions; sharing interests through photos, music, links, videos, etc.; and reflecting on experiences, problems, conflictive situations). Interestingly, 26% had indicated activities that they followed without always contributing themselves (i.e., passive participation). However, only 6% of respondents said that they did not participate at all in these activities. We also asked about the different roles that the respondents had previously taken in online communities. We had defined eight roles based on Lai et al. (2006)4 and which are shown in Table 20. Respondents were able to choose more than one. Some 27% said that they had been a ‘leader’ of an online community, and 42% of respondents said that they had only taken the role of a ‘regular member’. However, it appears from this question that participants in an online community often take many roles, as shown in Table 20. 4 Lai, K., W, Pratt, K., Anderson, M., Stigter, J. (2006) Literature Review and Synthesis: Online Communities of Practice. Ministry of Education, Wellington, New Zealand. 44
  47. 47. eTwinning Beyond school projects Table 20. Roles in online communities Roles in online communities Regular member 84% Leader, e.g., someone who starts the group 27% Help coordinating and managing content 24% Moderator, e.g., someone who helps moderating the group 23% Tutoring and supporting new members 21% Introducing knowledge as a subject matter expert 17% Facilitator of online events 13% Helping with technical problems 12% All in all, 84% said that they had the role of a regular member and another role. Examples of this are that 24% said they had helped ‘coordinate and manage content’, and 21% said they had helped tutor new members. Another 10% said they had roles such as helping with technical problems, introducing knowledge as a subject matter expert, helping in coordinating and managing content, and facilitating online events. Expectations regarding the eTwinning Groups We asked the respondents about the expectations for the pilot eTwinning Groups. Most said that they sought to learn new skills (88%), share experiences (87%), reflect on their existing practices (73%), gain practical relevance for their school (57%), acquire a feeling of mutual trust and shared feeling within the group (45%); and obtain respect for their contributions (25%). Regarding activities, the respondents were looking for new experiences and ideas for projects and resources (both 70%). They also mentioned discussing activities aimed at professional development (65%), pooling resources and material (56%), and documenting projects regarding possible problems and issues. About half of the respondents also mentioned face-to-face opportunities, as well as information-seeking activities. We asked the respondents to identify the roles that they would like to undertake during the pilot. Around 40% said that they only wished to take on the role of 45
  48. 48. 46
  49. 49. eTwinning Beyond school projects a regular member, whereas 38% said they would like to be regular members with some additional tasks (e.g., help coordinate content, tutor and support new members, help moderate the group, and help with technical problems). 4.2 Activities in Groups From October 2008 to the end of January 2009, each group ran their own activities with participants. The Maths, Science and Technology group formed a number of sub-groups for interest-based discussions, which were led by participants; whereas the Creative Classroom group started with some common forum discussions on various topics. Participants started their own discussion threads and some sub-groups were formed. Face-to-face meetings using Flashmeeting5 became popular in one of the sub-groups, where the aim was to discuss creativity in eTwinning projects. The School Leaders group had its own modus operandi, relying more on ‘broadcasting’ messages regarding ongoing events and documents. Recruitment of new participants happened mostly through word-of-mouth and from the list of people who had indicated their willingness to participate in the eTwinning Groups pilot. After the initial pilot period, an online evaluation survey was run. Since the evaluation, the groups have been running with minimal moderation from the coordinators and will continue to exist in the 2009-2010 school year. 4.3 Post-survey Groups relevant from a professional point of view In general, the participating teachers found eTwinning Groups relevant from a professional point of view (77%). Participation in them had enabled the participants to meet new people (66%) and share experiences (55%). Additionally, 47% said they had the opportunity to learn new skills; 45% said they had reflected on existing practices in their job; and 29% shared interests 5 This is an audio and video conferencing system (more at: 47
  50. 50. using media such as photos. These experiences came though taking part in discussions by posting in forums, or replying to other users (67%); and through reflecting on experiences, problems, and conflictive situations (61%). In addition, 36% of the respondents said they had followed activities without contributing themselves (i.e., passive participation). A closer look shows that 20% were entirely passive participants, whereas 16% displayed both active and passive participation. While the majority (75%) enjoyed the groups, there were slight differences between the groups. The Creative Classroom and School Leader groups were enjoyed by around 80% of participants; while Maths, Science and Technology was enjoyed by 65%. Group structure and different needs From observing the groups and interactions within, it was found that the participants have very varied expectations of what happens and how things happen in these virtual spaces. Before the pilot, we had focused on the issue of leadership within the group and established different ways to structure groups. Whereas Maths, Science and Technology had very little input from the coordinator after the initial formation of sub-groups, the Creative Classroom group had coordinators who were more present in discussions and activities. In both ways, the coordinators observed that having the participants take a leading role in activities was challenging. Even if it was recommended from the beginning to allocate clear roles (e.g. ,in Maths, Sciences and Technology there were sub-group leaders), and the participants had themselves indicated in the pre survey their willingness to take on roles other than ‘regular member’, activities that required the most planning, long-term engagement and fixing common times remained few and far apart. One major reason for less participation and engagement was the lack of time reported by teachers with 73% saying that they wanted to do more but did not have the time. We asked the respondents about issues related to the organisation and the structure of the group. As explained, each group had its own structure and organisation. The majority (64%) seemed to cope well with the current structure. However, 36% found that it was not clear what was expected from them. In the two newly established groups, about 40% had indicated that: ‘It was not clear what was expected from me’ or ‘I did not know what to do and 48
  51. 51. eTwinning Beyond school projects when’. The participants in these groups also indicated that more leadership is needed – this demand being especially strong in the Creative Classroom group (Table 21: 35%). Moreover, more than half of the participants in that group said that tutoring would be needed. Table 21. Needs per group Creativity MST SL Expert 35% 60% 60% Leadership 35% 27% 13% Tutor 53% 7% 7% Interestingly, the other newly established group, Maths, Science and Technology, also lacked leadership to a certain extent (27%), but hardly felt the need for tutoring (Table 21: 7%). The coordinators point out that the Creative Classroom group had many beginners who were probably not experienced in online communities and were expecting more organised top-down events and guidance. In the School Leaders group, which had already been operational for a year, fewer participants indicated that it was unclear what was expected from them (28%). Moreover, half of the respondents said they needed someone in the groups who could introduce knowledge as a subject matter expert. This request was more strongly expressed in the Maths, Science and Technology and School Leader groups (60%). Table 22. Should the group have a more outcome-oriented focus? More focus Total No, it's enough to discuss and reflect 13 (26%) Yes, it would help focus the work 38 (74%) 49
  52. 52. Table 22 shows that 74% of the respondents felt that the group ‘should have a more outcome-oriented focus’. On the other hand, 26% felt that it was enough to discuss within the group and reflect on practices. 4.4 Summary of points for consideration From the evaluation of the groups it may be inferred that the pilot period of three to four months – with a December holiday period – was a rather short time to get online communities ‘up and running’. Slightly more than half of the respondents (58%) felt that the group grew during the pilot. We also find that about two-thirds of respondents would recommend the groups to a colleague. From this we can infer that the majority of the participants saw the potential of the groups, and would use word-of-mouth ‘viral’ marketing to recruit more members. Leadership Despite the good intentions and enthusiasm of participants involved in online communities (e.g., many indicated roles that they would like to accept), we observed that for many individuals it is difficult to ‘take the plunge’. Many cite a lack of time (73% said they wanted to do more, but did not have the time). The issue of leadership and engagement in coordinating and organising activities and events is important: something that previous literature has also reported. We found that groups with many novices and less experienced ICT users desire stronger leadership and call for tutoring; whereas groups with more experienced users call for subject matter experts. Engagement To a certain extent, it seems that the groups failed to engage people in the activities: up to one-third reported in the post-survey that they had followed some activities without contributing, and as many as 20% said they had only passively followed discussions. Even if the inequality of participation in online communities is a known issue, the latter figure seems high compared to the 50
  53. 53. eTwinning Beyond school projects pre-survey, where only 6% claimed to have followed actively without participating. Focus Respondents clearly expressed in the post-survey evaluation the feeling that groups need a more outcome-oriented focus (65%); as opposed to discussion and reflection. However, the pre-survey showed that participants expected to share experiences (85%) and reflect on existing practices (73%). One proposal that could accommodate this mismatch is to tighten the link between eTwinning Learning Events and eTwinning Groups, so that group participants could attend planned, structured events as well as continuing discussion on their own time in the groups. Another solution could be inviting experts into groups for input, which would lead to more structured exercises that help participants share and reflect upon their experiences. Future actions The group pilot evaluation has shown a number of constraints in helping online communities such as eTwinning groups to flourish. The issues revolve around the following points: leadership; engagement of participants; and how to define the focus of the group. Even if these issues were reflected in the ‘Group Planning Tool’ that coordinators of groups use to help better plan the activities, the evaluation shows only moderate success in these aspects. The recommendation from this evaluation is to establish a second pilot with a more bottom-up approach. A hypothesis could be that if only a little top-down coordination existed, and the participants were made clearly aware that their input is needed, then more inspiring and interesting activities could be planned and better engagement and satisfaction levels reached. 51
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  55. 55. eTwinning Beyond school projects Conclusions As eTwinning continues to grow and becomes a driving force for education in Europe, it is clear that its effects are multi-faceted. It provides a wealth of good practice; gives opportunities for international networking; promotes innovation and creativity in schooling; equips teachers with free online tools for collaboration; facilitates participation through a virtually formality-free registration process; contributes to professional development and formal recognition; and finally, encourages teachers – and pupils – to communicate and learn together across Europe. Over the course of the 2008-2009 school year, a number of actions took place to better understand the needs and behaviour of teachers and, in return, to answer these needs in the best possible way. The launching of the new eTwinning platform in September 2008 was the main action in this regard – and responded to trends seen in recent years. eTwinners were making use of social networking tools to collaborate and share and so the Portal responded by providing explicit tools for this function. Following the launch of the new platform, additional social networking tools were created for teachers. In addition, a pilot study on eTwinning Groups was launched, online training through the newly created eTwinning Learning Lab was provided and the analysis of feedback from eTwinners through the eTwinning Survey continued. 53
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  57. 57. eTwinning Beyond school projects All activities have been both extremely revealing with regards to the environments in which eTwinners live across Europe as well as helpful in responding to what teachers need in order to better meet, network, learn, teach, and enjoy being part of a European network of colleagues. The results of the launching of the eTwinning Portal have been phenomenal. The very fact that monthly visits have increased 300% in just one school year shows that eTwinning is not simply maintaining itself but that it is growing exponentially each and every day. In terms of professional development and recognition, the new platform shows that the most popular way to get involved is still to register and run an eTwinning project and so the increased provision of social networking tools for community building clearly demonstrates the ease and creativity with which eTwinners can meet and start working together. An increasing number of projects involve more than the basic two partners and there is more of an age spread across projects – with more kindergarten and primary schools becoming involved. This leads away from the traditional two- partner project for secondary pupils practicing their foreign languages and reveals an increase in creativity. The eTwinning Survey was launched shortly after the new Portal went online, and helped gain a better idea of the environments in which teachers were working and how eTwinning did, or did not, match teachers’ needs. While time remains a major issue in getting involved in eTwinning (according to nearly 27%), it was very positive to see that almost 70% of teachers involved other colleagues from their school in eTwinning work. This also implies that there are many more eTwinners out there than those registered officially. With regards to the needs expressed by teachers in the survey – namely: more recognition, more instructions, simplified platforms, increased opportunities to meet, and more training events – it is encouraging to report that eTwinning has actually anticipated many of these points by responding to the trends that were visible before the survey was conducted. This holds true for the new platform, the pilot Groups and the Learning Events, as detailed in this report. 55
  58. 58. Providing online training at a central level this school year through the Learning Events has responded perfectly to the need for further professional development opportunities. A registration of over 450 people for the first four events, and an active participation during one of the busiest times of the school year, clearly shows the deep interest of teachers in such online activities. The overall satisfaction rate for all events was extremely high (66% reporting excellent and 29% reporting good) and the participants seemed to find the format stimulating and enthusiastically completed the various tasks assigned to them. The learning events will certainly be an activity to extend throughout the remainder of 2009 and their continued development will be followed with interest. With regard to a better understanding of teacher behaviour and experiences with online networking activities, the eTwinning group pilot programme has been very helpful in measuring expectations, levels of engagement, and the notion of active and passive users. Each of the three pilot eTwinning Groups was unique in its approach, being led by the moderator or a number of sub- moderators, or left to the users to organise. The data from this area provides interesting statistics about expectations and leadership. A key factor to emerge was that users require at least some structured leadership, and want input from experts to fuel discussions and idea building. The eTwinning Groups will continue into the new school year, and their results are instrumental in opening this service to all eTwinners. With over 65 000 registered eTwinners (June 2009), and an increase of nearly 15 000 individuals in the 2008-2009 school year alone, eTwinning continues to go from strength to strength. The next school year promises to be interesting as the new TwinSpace platform, where teachers and pupils work together online in an eTwinning project, will be launched with the specific aims of simplifying the tools and involving more pupils; the eTwinning Groups and Learning Events will continue to operate and grow in number; and the community will expand daily. With Web 2.0 social networking facilities firmly in place and an increasing number of activities on offer to stimulate ideas and collaboration, the action is set to continue on its path of growth as the true community for teachers in Europe. 56
  59. 59. A report on eTwinning 2008-2009