eTwinning and Comenius Tools

Blending together eTwinning and Comenius projects is a way of enhancing the collaboration and making it more efficient, more visible and therefore more motivating for the students. This can be achieved by using the eTwinning and Comenius tools together. Each set of tools can be very valuable in such a combined project, bringing it to its full potential. Here are a few suggestions concerning the roles and the benefits of using both kinds of tools.

I. Mutual benefits and roles of the eTwinning tools in Comenius partnerships and vice versa:

1.    An eTwinning project can have multiple roles when embedded into a Comenius partnership, in each stage of the work, primarily due to the tools on the portal and to the type of collaboration. Here is a brief overlook, they will be detailed in section II.

  1. Providing inspiration (the portal and the Desktop tools)
  2. Partner finding (due to the tools on the Desktop and the social network aspect, but also by means of the events, Learninglabs or groups)
  3. Communicating, mutual knowing and understanding (both by the TS tools, but also by the Desktop profile, wall, mailbox)
  4. Planning and organizing the project (with the TS tools)
  5. Getting acquainted to collaborative work, training- especially for students and for the less experienced teachers, by working on a short eTwinning project prior to starting a Comenius. I can be a very good way to sort out the most suitable roles and methods for the partners.
  6. Disseminating the work and keeping track of the stages of the project (by the TS and Twinblog). This can be very useful for filling in the project log and the final reports.
  7. Following up and disseminating a Comenius course, by initiating an eTwinning project with other course attendants, using the acquisitions from the course.

2.    Benefits of Comenius in eTwinning projects:

  1. Direct contact and face-to-face activities during the visits (trips, workshops, shows, contests etc.)
  2. Activity diversification, especially by visits (even a walk or a meal together are a very valuable experience).
  3. Larger project implication of external partners (local community and organizations are more likely to be involved).
  4. Blending together more LLP actions
  5. More visibility (by dissemination, final products and more external tools and activities).

II. Suggestions for using eTwinning tools in a Comenius partnership:

1.    The portal can provide:

  1. Information: events, useful links, news on competitions, data on professional development opportunities (such as the Comenius and Grundtvig Training Database).
  2. Inspiration: kits, modules, gallery, showcase of  projects sorted by subjects, the eTwinning Teachers’ Blog.

2.    The Desktop can be used for:

  1. Getting to know others and making yourself known: the Profile specifies if one eTwinner is available for eTwinning or Comenius partnerships, as well as project ideas and the projects he/she has already worked in. The simpler way to get in contact- “me too”.
  2. Communication: mailbox, wall.
  3. Partner finding forum, including a Search tool.
  4. The Learning Resources, that can be an inspiration source but also a dissemination instrument.

3.    The Twinblog (more recently named the Project Diary) is suitable for:

  1. Tracking the stages of the project work (as a Comenius partnership needs a project log) and later on it can be useful for the activity reports.
  2. Discussions and suggestions (from the NSS, partners, other teachers).
  3. Project planning.
  4. Sharing teaching resources and mutual training in the project team.
  5. Dissemination, activity portfolio.

4.    The Twinspace can have many roles within a Comenius partnership:

  1. In planning the work: using the calendar, the forums, the staff-room, the chat, the blog.
  2. In organizing and structuring the materials together: it can include the file archives, as well as links to other tools, web content, wikis with the collaborative work. They can be structured in different ways: chronologically, grouped by partners, or grouped by final products. It’s a great tool for effective collaboration, as students can work and upload themselves.
  3. In publishing: the partners can choose what to publish and it’s safe.
  4. In dissemination, by inviting other teachers as visitors.
  5. In communication among pupils, for example before the project visits: making a visit programme together (using forums, chats, students corner).
  6. In evaluation: using questionnaires or the forums.

III. Diversifying projects using external tools:

Getting acquainted to new tools and using them enhances both teachers’ and students’ motivation and turns a new project into a challenging adventure. After all: “The human mind is like a parachute: it only functions when it’s open.” These are just a few options suitable for both eTwinning and Comenius projects.

1.    Communication and planning tools:

  1. Videoconferencing: Flashmeeting, Dimdim, WizIQ.
  2. Mindmapping: FreeMind, CmapTools, bubble.us, Debategraph, Mindmeister

2.    Publishing tools:

  1. Blogs: Blogger, WordPress
  2. Magazinefactory
  3. Photos and images: flickr, Picasa, Slide.com, Photostory, Glogster
  4. Animation: Voki, Dvolver, GoAnimate, DoInk
  5. On-line publishing: Issuu, Calameo
  6. Podcasting: Audacity, iTunes, Loudblog
  7. Presentations: Prezi – there is life after PowerPoint!

3.    Collaborative tools:

  1. Platforms: Moodle, Claroline, Ning.
  2. Wikis: Wikispaces, Wikia, PBwiki.
  3. Games: ClassTools.
  4. Collaborative videos (Kaltura), materials (VoiceThread), photoalbums (Mixbook).

More suggetions and examples about the eTwinning tools are to be found in the latest eTwinning publication: eTwinning 2.0: Building the community for schools in Europe, which can be downloaded here:
http://www.etwinning.net/en/pub/news/news/etwinning_20.htm

Irina Vasilescu

Irina Vasilescu

Irina Vasilescu a absolvit Facultatea de Matematică a Universităţii Bucureşti şi programul de master "TIC în Educaţie" al Departamentului de Tehnologii al aceleiaşi unversităţi. A participat la mai multe cursuri de formare profesională în acest domeniu, atât în ţară, cât şi în cadrul oportunităţilor de formare oferite de Lifelong Learning Programme. Are o experienţă didactică de 24 de ani, gradul didactic I, iar în prezent îşi desfăşoară activitatea ca profesor de matematică la Şcoala cu clasele I-VIII nr. 195, Bucureşti. Un loc important în cadrul intereselor sale profesionale îl ocupă proiectele educaţionale europene din cadrul Lifelong Learning Programme, în special cele din cadrul acţiunilor eTwinning şi Comenius, în care se implică începând din anul 2005. Este ambasador eTwinning România.