Rooms with a view
Networks are the new classrooms. Networks are the new teachers’ rooms.
We are all sentenced to lifelong learning and it is a gift for life. Yesterday I had the honour, for the 4th time already, to moderate an online professional discussion for teachers on Twitter. For my job I am involved in the Living Schools Lab project organized by European Schoolnet. The aim of the project is to mainstream expertise of innovative teaching in schools and countries in Europe. Advanced schools and advanced practitioners take a leading role in this process of upscaling.
Living Schools Lab wants to connect to a wide community of teachers and contribute to this virtual future room teachers’ room of continuous professional development.
Living Schools Lab adopted the Twitter discussions already taking place for some years in networks like Edchat and Edchatie. Every fortnight we organize a one hour discussion on a certain educational topic. Teachers find this discussion by searching for the hashtag #LSLCHAT. When they contribute to the discussion they add the same hashtag to their tweet. It is as easy as that.
Yesterday we had the discussion whether students could or should bring and use their own device in the classroom. I can tell you I was a very lively and interesting Twitter chat. Teachers posted the pros and cons, they mentioned the barriers and shared their expertise.
At the end of an LSLCHAT all tweets are chirpified and collected in an online summary. This means you can read all the tweets and have access to all the shared resources.
Keep an eye on the next LSLCHATs. They will be announced on Twitter (#LSLCHAT or @bartverswijvel) or on the Living Schools Lab portal.
Some resources shared during this session:
He’s here again. The man with a child in his eyes.
I was in Billund, Denmark for another eTwinning Professional Development Workshop. The seminar took place in Legoland and around 115 science teachers from 27 different countries took part.
The participants had a 3 day programme of keynotes, partner finding activities but above all… playful learning. My favourite toy of my youth, Lego bricks, played a predominant role during the PDW. There were workshops on Lego Mindstorms, Stop Motion. There were Lego board games, etc.
The seminar was not about Lego as such. It was about the pedagogical idea of learning as a creative process. Learning as a discovery, as an inquiry, as a social process as well. We can all be engineers. With this idea students are not just receivers anymore. They learn and teach. We must push for distributed expertise, Chris Rogers, one of the keynote speakers, said.
At the PDW we played the Lego duck game. All participants got the same set of bricks to create a duck. 115 ducks, yet all slightly different.
I love ducks. They fly to meet other ducks… in the cloud. To inspire and to get inspired. Yes, this is what eTwinning is about: it is about building and flying.
I was in Reykjavik for the 2nd time in 2 years. This time eTwinning Iceland had invited me to give two workshops at the Professional Development Workshop for Maths teachers.
Maths sometimes has the reputation of being sterile, academic and theoretical. Integrating the math curriculum into eTwinning projects can bring maths to life, to… real life. At the PDW the participants found project partners and they came up with great project ideas. I am very sure that students who will take part in the projects will know better why we need maths. With eTwinning numbers become good friends…
In my workshops I focused on the social layer that comes next to the core curriculum business of the project: the communication between the project partners and safety issues.
During my short stay in Reykjavik I could also enjoy some of its treasures. We spent a wonderful night in the water and the restaurant of the Blue Lagoon.
After the closing of the PDW I went with some NSS colleagues to my favourite modern building: the Harpa Concert Hall. Even without any performance this building is worth a visit. We attended a splendid performance of Bizet’s opera Carmen. The orchestra and the many singers on stage gave us an unforgettable evening.
On the way home there was more music. We heard on many different locations live bands playing. This weekend the Iceland Airwaves festival took place in the city of Reykjavik. Despite the many beats the voice of Carmen stayed in my head all night.
Carmen had come as the perfect encore after the eTwinning Habanera of the previous days.
From time to time eTwinning organizes face to face meetings for Eureopean teachers. I have been to many of these professional development workshops, conferences and contact seminars. Yesterday I returned from a 3 day seminar in Dubrovnik and I must say… it was just magic. The venue for the event was the Neptun Hotel with its stunning postcard view on the Adriatic Sea.
I was very happy to deliver a plenary workshop on the opening evening together with my professional compagnon de route Arjana Blazic. In our interactive session eTwinning on the Beach we brought the participants to learning beaches and tools treasure islands. To us eTwinning is an ode to the joy of learning.
The rest of the programme consisted as usual of workshops about the eTwinning tools and project creation. The most appreciated workshop of the seminar was without any doubt A little bit of Magic with Collaboration Tools. It was again delivered by Arjana Blazic and she gave all the participants a big professional boost.
For the social programme we went to the old town of Dubrovnik. We had a guided tour and we had an outside dinner with a fabulous live band. I guess no one will ever forget that lovely summer evening in late October.
The magic for this event also was the result of the great job of the Croatian organizers. Dunja Babic and her NSS team must be congratulated.
I am sure that after this contact seminar the eTwinning magic will find its way to European schools and students.
eTwinning is the network for schools in Europe. eTwinning teachers set up online projects for their students and they collaborate in a safe pedagogical environment. The added value of learning with eTwinning is the international context and the real life audience it provides for the learners. eTwinning facilitates 21st Century learning.
From time to time teachers get the opportunity to meet face to face. Over the past days a Professional Development Workshop took place in Stockholm at the World Trade Center. The conference theme was European Citizenship. Around 100 teachers from 25 countries were present as well as a group of 80 EU school ambassadors who had a slightly different programme.
At the Europahuset we attended a keynote by Doris Pack, member of the European Parliament and the Chair of the Committee on Culture and Education.
Doris Pack told us that Europe is not just in Brussels and, of course, eTwinning teachers don’t have to be convinced about that. She spoke about identity and stated that exchange and communication make us who we are. The feeling of European citizenship should be embedded in education from a very early age. The new Erasmus+ programme will provide a new framework for mobilties and online collaboration.
The rest of the programme was filled with workshops to create project ideas, getting to know eTwinning ICT tools and partner finding activities. I delivered 2 workshops myself about building safe, interactive and creative introduction and communication activities.
The farewell dinner took place in Junibacken, the exhibition centre for the fantastic world of the stories of Astrid Lindgren and other great Scandinavian authors. We had our meal next to the house of Pippi Longstocking.
Teachers can learn from Pippi Longstocking. Education should be a bit Pippi like: adventurous and creative.
I was very happy to receive an invitation some time ago by my good friend Arjana Blazic to attend the opening of the Croatian Future Classroom. It was her initiative to embed this Future Classroom in her school in Zagreb. In times of economic recession it is not easy to make the necessary investments for education. But with the joint forces of teachers and school board, the government and commercial partners the new classroom could be established.
As a representative of European Schoolnet, I gave a speech at the grand opening last Wednesday and I told the audience that I was happy that the idea to build this classroom in Zagreb got its inspiration in the Future Classroom Lab in Brussels. Less than 2 years ago European Schoolnet built on its premises in Brussels a classroom for the future with the help of commercial partners. It is a place where different stakeholders can meet to share and experience ideas to reshape the future of education. From the very start, the centre has been very successful and almost on a daily basis it hosts events for students and teachers, policy makers and political leaders, and also industrial partners.
I am really convinced that these new flexible classroom spaces where technology gives an added value can bring change to education. For students it offers an environment to build a wide range of 21st century skills. It offers the context for learning activities that focus on collaboration, ICT literacy and creativity. It gives the opportunity to encourage critical thinking and inquiry based learning. When you stick to traditional frontal teaching as the only model for educational interaction, you will not be able to create the necessary shift of the educational paradigm. This type of environment will appeal to more learning styles and to a variety of competencies. It will give more winners in the classroom.
The Croatian Future Classroom will not only be important for the students but also for the professional development of the teachers. It will inspire teachers to connect to networks and virtual teachers’ rooms of other innovative teachers outside this school.
The grand opening was attended by students, teachers and guests, but also by some virtual visitors. A group of teachers coming from different parts in the world were present by means of a video conference system.
I am quite sure that Arjana Blazic and her colleagues will make the Croatian Future Classroom into a lighthouse, a lighthouse for innovative education, a lighthouse that has an impact on the school but also on the rest of the country.
More information: Traveloteacher (Arjana Blazic)
The first of my autumn trips of this year brought me to Vienna. I took part in the Europeana Creative Open Labs Design Session.
The Europeana project has built a portal to make Europe’s rich cultural heritage digitally accessible. Europeana Labs is a new project that focuses on the creative re-use of these cultural artefacts. It will provide the conditions and tools developers need to create new products like apps.
At the 2 day meeting I presented the Future Classroom Lab. European Schoolnet’s physical lab will play a role in the course of the European Labs project.
The meeting in Vienna took place in the wonderful National Library of Austria located in Hofburg, next to Albertina. Our postmodern workshop was embedded in a fabulous wealth of rich and beautiful history.
At the meeting I heard words like personas, branding, code, API, and scrum master. But I also smelled Vienna’s creative open labs of the past when I made a walk in the city.
Throughout the year European Schoolnet is a company where you feel the heart of European education beating. The members of staff come from many different countries and then of course there are the many European visitors coming to the office.
The past 3 weeks the Europe’s educational heart made a loud boom-boom-boom in Brussels. We had 3 successive 5-day Comenius in-service courses taking place in the Future Classroom Lab. In the beginning of the summer holiday we had a course on E-safety, followed by a course focusing on Interactive White Boards. Together with Will Ellis and Rute Baptista I co-led last week’s course on Future Classroom Scenarios. We had 26 participants coming from Norway, Austria, Italy, Turkey, Greece, UK, France, Germany, Romania, Portugal, Spain, Iceland, Hungary and Switzerland.
The idea of the Future Classroom Scenarios course is to build on educational and societal trends to create learning activities. Technology should be embedded in a meaningful context and learning activities need a 21st century skills quality control.
It was amazing to see how group dynamics worked in such a positive way. The participants were really talented, enthusiastic, cooperative and open-minded. I am sure they will keep in touch after the course to share professional ideas and… the joy of learning.
I enjoyed last week’s scenario very much.