I have used eTwinning in a couple of projects, among others one with a school in Netherlands. I teach English and Swedish to upper secondary students. However, eTwinning could be used for other age groups in subjects as diverse as music and religion. Below, I will share my experience and give some advice.
To begin with, you become a member, then the most challenging part is to find a partner, a teacher in another school with common and similar goals. An on-line partnerfinding database is available where you may narrow down your search to a specific age group or language. It could take a few months to find a partner and outline a project. There are readymade kits of projects that you could use if you do not have and idea of your own. The last project I participated in, the Dutch teacher and I both agreed that we wanted to encourage our students to use more English and become aware of the fact that even though their level of English was not too advanced, they could still manage to communicate and solve the assignments successfully using ICT tools. The assignment consisted of a few separate activities using different functions within the eTwinning so called "Twinspace" allotted for you project.
Another synergy effect, is that the work is assembled in one space. It is all there to read, reflect upon, evaluate as well as learn from. When it comes to ICT, as this is a beginning of an era, it is indeed valuable, to exchange ideas, evaluate and spread knowledge. Furthermore, cross curricular work may be encouraged when your own work becomes visible to colleagues. Moreover, head masters get an insight into the international and intercultural exchange. This might lead to a focus in your career if your school will invest more time in future projects. Your work may also be evaluated by the NSS and quality labels could be granted. This is of course something that adds to the proffessionalism of your teaching and the school's image if posted on the school's website. You could also participate in different competitions and win prizes. I have for example won a very advanced webcamera which I have used a lot when I Skype.
The different parts of our project were:
1. Introduce yourself.
a. To create a profile.
b. To address a few other students by writing an entry on their walls. Develop this first contact with yet a few posts.
2. Create a wiki together with a partner in the other school. The pair could then choose a topic to look into and then get started.
|Wiki - Rosa parks by a Dutch and Swedish student|
Comment: This was the most advanced part of the assignment, in relation to their level of English, where they used English that was more advanced than the Wikis. It was very interesting to follow the threads, read their entries and participate in the development of for example the discussion on death penalty. We used articles in English published on Stockholm news in English, for example:
“ 100 years since the last Swedish execution
Culture | 2010-11-24 Today it is exactly 100 years ago since the last execution was conducted in Sweden. It was the first, and last, time a guillotine was used as a form of execution. Johan Alfred Andersson Ander was executed after being convicted of murder. He had stolen more than 5000 Swedish kronor (a lot of money in these days) from a woman who he killed during the robbery. Previous executions had been performed by manual beheading but now the imported guillotine from France was to be used for the first time. Bizarrely but true, it is easy to imagine the excitement among the audience. Mr Andersson Anders was denied saying some last words and the whole spectacle is reported to have been over very quickly. Eleven years later, in 1921, the death penalty was abolished in Sweden, so the imported guillotine was only used once, and can now be seen at the Nordic museum in Stockholm. You can see it here."
Tommie Ullman firstname.lastname@example.org
|Forum - discussing current news|
4. Evaluation in a shared Google survey.
Comment: Very easy to administer and get an overview in order to reflect on what might be improved another time. For example being four instead of two when creating the Wiki. Apart from that, the students were very pleased with their work and the design of the assignment. Where I used to work while I did this project, the school had a 1-1 solution and the partner school did not. Therefore, it was difficult for example to have a live chat session because they did not have access to computers and Internet and it was difficult to coordinate times as well. Some students used Skype in their spare time and I find it very rewarding that some students used English outside school hours. It was furthermore, very rewarding to learn a lot about the different tools as the project developed and to encourage one another. We learnt a lot about running a longterm project and unfortunately the Dutch teacher retired the year after the project so therefore we never got the chance to further develop our project, but we still Skype now and then.
Hopefully, you have been encouraged to give eTwinning a try, if this source is new to you. If you have any questions, get in touch and we may exchange some ideas.