Rubric for a quality project: 5. Use of technology
For the vast majority of teachers, eTwinning is identified with technology. Indeed, activity at various levels of the platform is based on the use of technological tools. However, we should not forget that eTwinning is, above all, an educational programme.
Technology has an important role, but only as a tool, as a means to achieve the educational goals we have set ourselves. What is important in an eTwinning project are not the tools used, whether they are more or less complex, sophisticated or novel; what really matters is how they are used, if they help achieve the objectives, if they facilitate collaboration and creativity, whether they have been used in an original way.
Normally, we design a project and its activities using the tools we know: if I can use Power Point, for example, I plan an activity in which the objective is to give some information in that format. However, even though it is the most common approach, it is wrong: planning a project using the tools that we know can mean a significant limitation. Let’s do the opposite: “What do I want to achieve in this activity?” “How do I want to organize the work of pupils: pairs, groups, individuals?” “How would I like to share the results?” When we have decided on the answers to these questions, and not before, we can look for tools that can be of use to us; they almost certainly exist and have free versions that will allow us to experiment. That way, we will not limit our project to what we knew in advance; we expand our knowledge of tools and get a more efficient project from an educational point of view.
Faced with this proposal, the doubt arises regarding where we can find the tools we need. We know they exist, but what are they? Where are they? How do you find them? To start with, we have groups of pupils that master and are motivated by some tools that teachers do not know about; let’s ask them. They can certainly offer us some suggestions. Of course, we also have other colleagues. It’s not about finding someone who knows more tools than I do; it’s just about finding someone who masters a tool that I do not know, something to add to my digital background. There is of course Google (or any search engine); if we ask the right questions, we will get the right answers. To begin somewhere, we propose the eTwinning List published in List.ly. If you filter with the “Tools” label you will find some interesting resources. You can find a longer list inSymbaloo, produced collaboratively by various eTwinning ambassadors. As a final example of where to look, “ICT4U” , an eTwinning project that deals precisely with how to use various tools in the classroom. It is from 2009, but remains perfectly valid and worth a good look.
Finally, if we are talking about use, it’s not all about tools. We need to educate our pupils (and educate ourselves) about the correct use of the Internet, how and what to communicate: privacy, data security, respect for copyright and reproduction, use of materials with a Creative Commons license, or basic etiquette in online communication are also aspects that must be looked at in our projects. Then you have the different descriptors in quality criteria “5. Use of technology”:
- There is no interaction and nothing is shared. TwinSpace is not used, nor any other tool.
- Little use of communication tools such as TwinSpace or others.
– Pupils are not registered in TwinSpace or other tools.
– The documents produced by pupils and teachers are not stored in the right place.
– There is no division of labour. For example, one teacher is responsible for publishing all the posts on blogs.
– When information is displayed, aspects related to Internet security are not taken into account, such as not posting photos of pupils, lists with their names, images or copyrighted music, etc.
- – Only a few pupils are registered in TwinSpace or other tools.
– Some communication tools or TwinSpace have been used: basic tools for exchange of information (texts, photos and possibly video-slideshows).
– Not all entries are genuine pupil productions (for example, documents that contain information copied directly from the Internet).
– There is some awareness about safety aspects; for example, pupils are not identifiable, but there is concern over issues of copyright in images, music…
- – Some TwinSpace communication tools are used.
– Commercial blogs are used but advertising has not been taken into account in these.
– Creative tools are used for exchanges between pupils.
– Documents are created with software for presentations, videos, etc.
– There is some awareness about safety aspects; for example, pupils are not identifiable; aspects relating to copyright of music and images used are taken into account but not in all cases
- – TwinSpace or external communication tools are used.
– Commercial blogs without advertising are used, in which there is a high degree of participation by ALL pupils involved in the project.
– Creative tools are used to exchange information.
– Multimedia documents are produced with the appropriate software, video editing…
– Wikis are used…
– There is full awareness on issues relating to security; for example, pupils are not identifiable; aspects relating to copyright of music and images used are always taken into account.
- Same as above, but it has also been implemented with a particularly intelligent and creative use by pupils.
If you want to see an especially good recent example of the use of ICT, we recommend AIMS (Alternatives for Innovative Math Study), by the teacher Valentina Cuadrado, from the “Alonso de Madrigal” secondary school in Ávila, eTwinning National Award 2015.
Source of images: SNA eTwinning.