If Students Were in Charge of eTwinning

09. december 2019

On one autumn Friday, eTwinning project work took place in a completely unusual manner in the HITSA Future Classroom Lab: students were leading the work, whereas the teachers served as assistants.

You all probably know that moment when a teacher enters the classroom and excitedly announces to the class that today marks the beginning of a genuinely fascinating project. For instance, on how to care for house plants or use household chemicals. Thrilling for teachers, but...perhaps not so riveting for the students. This is why the students were immediately granted a leading role in the eTwinning training carried out in the HITSA Future Classroom Lab: they were to come up with an idea on their own, commence with the project and introduce it to others.

The HITSA Future Classroom Lab is used to introduce innovative teaching methods with the help of modern technological devices and it is also a part of the European Schoolnet Future Classroom Lab network. This innovative and exciting space hosted the rather modern eTwinning training, which was attended by small teams (a teacher and two students) from seven schools: Kose-Uuemõisa Kindergarten-Elementary School, Loo High School, Tallinn Rahumäe Basic School, Metsküla Elementary School, Pärnu Kuninga Street Basic School, Tallinn Südalinna School, and Pelgulinna Gymnasium.

Education technologists and HITSA trainers Ingrid Maadvere and Meeri Sild guided the students, while the teachers learned more about the HITSA Future Classroom Lab. All participating teachers were exceptionally experienced in eTwinning’s international project work, whereas the concept of eTwinning was new for most students.

“eTwinning stands for collaboration, but this collaboration takes place without ever actually meeting up,” explained Ingrid Maadvere to the students and asked how this could be possible. The children, of course, knew the answer – collaboration takes place online, which is the modern space for working together. The discussion also covered the concept of a project, and after this, it was time to come up with numerous project ideas. Pets, books, mathematics, dance, natural science, Germany, the Hobbit series, an introductory video for the school, gym class – there was no shortage of ideas. Finally, three eTwinning projects prevailed: sports and physical activity during a school day, travel comic and an introductory video for the school titled “Our Cool School”. The schools formed project teams, teachers were included as well and thus began the sketching process of the ideas and preparation of presentations.

Education technologist Lemme Sulaoja from the Pärnu Kuninga Street Basic School was exceptionally satisfied with the format of the training. “It is exciting. It is great that students have been involved. As a teacher, I habitually wanted to voice my thoughts about the ideas, but I held myself back and gave only a few recommendations. This type of project work is not difficult for the 4th and 5th grade, they did great,” was the teacher confident.  

Marlon and Emili from the 5th grade of the same school confirmed they had fun. Emili knew beforehand that eTwinning is some sort of a project, but learned more about it during the training. And together they concluded that a project is a task under which various schools engage in activities together and that they will start filming the introductory video for their school after the holidays.

The training day was concluded by the introduction of project ideas. However, the day also included a long recess – children utilized all of the opportunities of the Future Classroom Lab and searched for QR codes, held robot competitions, drew on iPads, used the various opportunities of green screen to take photos and much more.

eTwinning is a virtual community of European schools which is, first and foremost, a work environment for teachers. Schools can use the platform to communicate, collaborate and create projects. eTwinning was launched in 2005 under the e-learning program of the European Commission, from 2014 it is under the Erasmus+ programme. Currently, over 700,000 teachers across Europe have joined eTwinning.

Author: Madli Leikop, HITSA

Photos: MTÜ Fotopluss (Petri Asperk) and Madli Leikop

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