Saturday, December 13, 2008

The Right to Education

In Western Europe, we have the luxury of having an almost universal right to education. In the rest of the world, it's not necessarily the same. Peter Hyll Larsen has just launched a new website for the Right to Education Project.

As the website says, "the Right to Education Project aims to promote social mobilisation and legal accountability, looking to focus on the legal challenges to the right to education."

Take a look...

AEC-NET conference presentation and paper

I'm presenting today at the Asia-Europe Classroom conference. It's going to be a really interesting and fun event! The projects up for awards look very promising too. Download my conference background paper and the Powerpoint (2.3 MB zip archive, includes videos).

I showed these two videos as part of the presentation:

Friday, December 12, 2008

EMINENT conference on ICT in education

EMINENT, European Schoolnet's annual conference for ICT in education policy makers just ended successfully last week. The two-day event brought together around 200 experts from European member states and beyond.

Particular highlights for me were:
It's especially good news for Turkey, as they only became a member of European Schoolnet this year and are already winning prizes!

For more about EMINENT, check out the blog and the podcast.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Glance at a country: Malaysia

I'm about to leave for Kota Kinabulu in Malaysia for the Asia-Europe Classroom Connect conference, so I thought I'd take this chance to make another country focus, this time looking at Malaysia.

First of all, an example of classroom practice in a Malaysian school, as part of the Asia-Europe Classroom project. The project links schools in Asia to their counterparts in Europe using ICT.

Schools using ICT in Malaysia are part of the Smart Schools programme. Take a look to learn more about the status in 2007 and plans for 2008. Also, this article from Digital Learning India gives a great overview of ICT in education in the country.

I also came across this Smart Schools promotional video - including possibly the world's first song about ICT in education!

Other developments are ongoing in Malaysia, and the
Asia Open Source Software project just held it's latest workshop in Kuala Lumpur. THe AsiaOSS project also provides the Asia OSS wiki including all kinds information about the project, including learning materials and details on the working groups.

Finally, take a look at One School, a portal of learning resources, including flash cards, revision notes, homework help and free reference books tailored for the Malaysian school system. It's all available in English.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

The Great Plant Hunt

Another really cool science project from the BBC!

"The Great Plant Hunt invites school children aged 5-11 to explore the natural world around them in a series of activities, all clearly linked to the primary science curriculum." It encourages students and teachers to get out of the classroom, and take a walk around local green spaces to learn more about the plants that grow there. Learning activities are provided for all ages of primary school children.

Register your interest today

Stimulating interest in IT among young people in Europe

Many young people in Europe think that IT careers are dull and boring - but at the same time they are avid users of IT tools, whether on the web (like Facebook, Flickr, etc.) or via games consoles (e.g. Playstation 3, Nintendo DS Lite). I presented about this topic in Thessaloniki, Greece at the e-Skills conference.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Inspiring girls to join the IT industry

The IT industry suffers from a gender imbalance, with a lot of women shunning the sector. It's frustrating to see so many talented girls avoid this sector due to prejudice and lack of knowledge of the reality of IT.

I recently met Sally Buberman at the Microsoft Women in IT day, and at SciTech Girls day organised by the Women's Forum. She is taking the time to talk to girls, explain her job and inspire them to follow in her footsteps. She's set up her own company, Wormhole IT.

She also posts about her experiences on her blog, Sally into the Wormhole.

Directory of ICT Resources for Teaching and Learning of Science, Mathematics and Language

The UNESCO Schoolnet project produced a directory of resources for science, maths and language teaching, accompanied by a CD-ROM. The publication was extremely popular and so a second edition has been produced.

Download the directory from the UNESCO Bangkok ICT in education e-Library

Data protection day: event and competition

Young Europeans between the ages of 15 and 19 years are invited to take part in the“Surf the internet – think Privacy” competition which was launched this week at The challenge is to create a 30 to 90 second video to illustrate the theme of data privacy and data protection. As entries start coming in, you can visit the online competition gallery to rate the uploaded entries. The most popular videos will then be judged by a panel of experts.

Podcast on the eLearning Awards

A new podcast has been launched for the eLearning Awards 2008. So far two episodes have been made available. The first one focuses on the awards themselves, and includes interviews with the team behind the scenes.
The second episode looks at issues around internet safety by interviewing Janice Richardson, leader of the Insafe project, and interactive white boards, with Laurent Odic from Interwrite Learning.

For more info, visit the eLearning Awards website

Friday, October 17, 2008

eTwinning: adventures in language and culture

eTwinning, the main programme for school cooperation in Europe, has recently published a new book for teachers. 'eTwinning: adventures in language and culture' (PDF download)

"Following the success of eTwinning’s first two handbooks for teachers in 2006 and 2007, this latest publication focuses more concretely on the value and use of language and culture in any cross-border collaborative project. In addition, the book brings together a wealth of successful, award-winning project examples from the past school year which have all used language and culture to create bonds and share knowledge."

Sunday, September 21, 2008

What happens to the free rice?

People all round the world have been playing Free Rice, a simple but strangely addictive game where you have to identify the correct definition of various English words. It's available from the Free Rice site, as well as via a Facebook app.

Did you ever wonder how they distribute all that Free Rice? Take a look at the video!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Try life in another langauge

The UK's channel four has launched a campaign to promote interest in learning modern languages. Together with an ad agency, they produced this great video with the French hiphop MC, Disiz la Peste. It's cool enough to be intriguing for young people, while also having a great educational message!

More about the Channel 4 campaign

Monday, September 15, 2008

Innovative practices in ICT in education in Asia-Pacific

It's always exciting when you see an idea move from thought to reality. The ICT in education team over at UNESCO Bangkok have done just that when they started this award project, to identify teachers and educational planners doing amazing work in ICT in education in the region. The Innovative ICT in Education Prizes These kinds of events are great for inspiring others, and stimulating colleagues to become more innovative themselves. Interestingly, India was far and away the most represented country, despite the quite patchy use of ICT in schools.

I particularly liked the winning example of 'E-tools for Teaching and Learning Geography', from Suryaveer Singh, S.D. Public School, New Delhi, India, which is comparable in standard to projects taking place in Europe that I've evaluated in the eTwinning prizes and eLearning awards. Mr. Singh set up a blog full of quizzes, animations and puzzles, plus kept his class up to date about key dates and events. He also opened a wiki where students could work on their projects together, upload their work, share videos and games, and ask each other questions. He structured their use of the wiki so that they used it as a useful tool in reaching their learning goals. See full details of his project here.

One of the participants in the award ceremony, Rogelio Colting, president of Benguet State University in the Philippines remarked: "We will set up an IT centre in the university to showcase all the innovative ideas applicable in our region. The IT centre will serve as a learning and training centre on ICT applications, particularly to improve teaching at all levels."

The full results are available on the UNESCO Bangkok website.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Food Force: a game about the World Food Program

A great initiative from the UN World Food Programme, the Food Force game helps teach kids about how hunger can affect communities, and how food aid is handled by international agencies.

"Food Force is a free educational video game telling the story of a hunger crisis on the fictitious island of Sheylan. Comprised of 6 mini-games or “missions”, the game takes young players from an initial crisis assessment through to delivery and distribution of food aid, with each sequential mission addressing a particular aspect of this challenging process."

They've also added a special section explaining about food distribution in Myanmar following the typhoon, Nargis.

Play the game here.
Via UNESCO Bangkok.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Asia-Europe Classroom cooperation

A while back I had the chance to meet Ramon Molina from the Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF). He introduced me to an interesting initiative run by ASEF, the Asia-Europe Classroom. It's still relatively small scale, but shows just what can be done when students and teachers from two continents work together.

The latest new project is 'Citizens of the World', "an interdisciplinary project which encompasses Culture, Science, History, and Sports." Students from the schools involved are asked to pick the most important citizen from their own country, and present them to their partners in other countries. It's a wonderfully simple but effective way to help young people understand and value both their own heritage, as well as their partners' heritage.

A conference for teachers involved in the project is taking place in December, in Malaysia.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Glance at a country: Thailand

Thailand has been active in ICT in education for many years now, and some schools are already very well equipped. One school I remember particularly well from my visit is Suankularb school in Nonthaburi, just outside Bangkok. They have a great deal of computers, and the students there have used them in a variety of contexts (language and science lessons), as well as developing their skills in computer graphics. They also take part in numerous UNESCO projects such as the Schoolnet project.

On an institutional level, the National Electronics and Computer Technology Centre (NECTEC) is responsible for all kinds of ICT development in Thailand (see the English version of the website, no longer updated)

Schoolnet Thailand (English version) is the national gateway for schools. It includes blogs, recent articles on different topics, a library of teaching resources and more. It's provided by the Thai Bureau of ICT, part of the Ministry of Education.

Intel's Thai Skoool site is an online classroom for maths and science. It provides study notes and services for maths, biology, chemistry, physics and earth science. It's a collaborative project with the Thai Ministry of Education and Microsoft.

Photo credit: Hartfried Schmidt

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Edublogger 08: helping kids become researchers

My post on science education has just been published over at the Supercoolschool blog. Here's an extract:

"Many kids find learning science dull and boring - but research (for example, the Rocard report) indicates that hands-on science, where kids "become" scientists in the classroom through inquiry-based techniques helps overcome this perception. By inquiry-based science education, we mean processes where children are investigating issues that they find interesting, and even designing their own experiments to help them verify hypotheses."

Check out the rest of the post and join the debate at:

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Education 3.0 at school: the case of eTwinning

Derek Keats and Philipp J. Schmidt, both active on the UNESCO OER list, have just published a new paper in First Monday, 'The genesis and emergence of Education 3.0 in higher education and its potential for Africa.'

From their point of view, "Education 1.0 is mainly a one-way process, Education 2.0 uses the technologies of Web 2.0 to create more interactive education but largely within the constraints of Education 1.0. Education 2.0 is laying the groundwork for Education 3.0, which we believe will see a breakdown of most of the boundaries, imposed or otherwise within education, to create a much more free and open system focused on learning."

This gives me a lot of hope. In many ways, school education is already heading towards this state, and eTwinning is helping it to happen. Schools in Europe are cooperating informally, and have generated these 'peer to peer' partnerships, which aren't institutionalised or funded. They are sustained purely on the basis of the enthusiasm of students and teachers for the projects.

Let's take a look at how it measures up, against their typology:

a) Role of professor (teacher): Orchestrator of collaborative knowledge creation
This is already the case in eTwinning. Most of the projects I've seen in the eTwinning prizes are almost entirely built by students. Teachers provide the framework and schedule, while students develop all the results together. In some cases, the students even choose the topics to cover, and teachers decide on the pedagogical method and schedule.

b) Free/open educational resources created and reused by students across multiple institutions, disciplines, nations, supplemented by original materials created for them
Most of the work developed by students is based on free, easily accessible content that they have found online - although of course, some still rely on books (however I see this as a strength to combine old and new media). The results of their work - in a way new educational resources - are almost always made available online and for free.

c) Open, flexible learning activities that focus on creating room for student creativity; social networking outside traditional boundaries of discipline, institution, nation
This is definitely happening in eTwinning. Students often go beyond the required activities set by their teachers, and communicate readily with their partners via online tools such as MSN or Skype. However it might be extended in future to include other kinds of actors (e.g. museum staff) rather than only other pupils and teachers, but this isn't currently in the main plan of eTwinning unfortunately.

d)Loose institutional affiliations and relations; entry of new institutions that provide [higher] education services; regional and institutional boundaries breakdown
Again, schools are already affiliating in this way through eTwinning. However, the entry of new institutions isn't so evident. Most of the institutions active in eTwinning are those that you might expect (e.g. Ministries of Education, agencies like the British Council). Also, most schools will rely principally on their own national agency for support, rather than asking for support from another country. The exception to this rule is the Central Support Service - European Schoolnet - in Brussels, which offers services to teachers in any of the eTwinning countries.

e) Active, strong sense of ownership of own education, co-creation of resources and opportunities, active choice
Students are already co-creating resources and processes in eTwinning, and even choosing the topic of cooperative work. However, how far the ownership issue has progressed really depends on the teacher: if he/she is able to 'let go' and put students in the driving seat.

f) E-learning driven from the perspective of personal distributed learning environments; consisting of a portfolio of applications

Although the eTwinning portal offers a suite of tools and services to run the projects, teachers and students are free to add other tools to their portfolio. Many are using other platforms such as Ning, Blogger and Flickr, post videos to YouTube or distribute their own podcasts. The new eTwinning platform (scheduled for release in October this year) will place even more emphasis on the suite of web 2.0 tools that teachers are already using, and will be more based on standards such as Open ID and RSS, so that they can import/export content more easily across these different platforms.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Tell us about games at school!

I'm working on the 'games in schools' project, and looking for teachers interested in the topic to tell more about their place at school.

Respondents can win X-box 360 Elites and a pack of child-friendly games by filling in the survey!

"Adventure games, role plays, arcade, strategy games, simulations, driving games, puzzles, brain gym … We hear more and more about computer games and they are getting more and more sophisticated, but what is their place in school? Are they useful or dangerous? Opinions among teachers seem to be divided with some enthusiastic teachers using them effectively, some sceptical and some hostile. What is your opinion?"

Online survey in English, French and German:
Games in school survey
Enquete sur les jeux video
Umfrage zu Spielen in Schulen

Downloadable survey as a Word file for return by email to

Photo credit: dominic

Monday, August 18, 2008

Join the Edublogger event on 23 August!

Max Senges of Supercoolschool kindly invited me to join the Edublogger event 08! Here's how he describes it:

"Edubloggerevent08 Building on the success of last years EduBlogger event, we are proud to organize "EduBlogging Event 08" next month on Saturday the 23rd of August!
12 bloggers involved in new education projects will publish a text or video post about their take of an aspect of education & new technologies on our blog and All of you are invited to engage in a vivid Q&A session and discussion afterwards."

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

400 eTwinning teachers meet in Romania

The week before Easter the annual eTwinning conference took place. The whole event was really exciting, with lots of great presentations, and the keynote speaker, Sugata Mitra of 'hole in the wall computer' fame went down a storm with his message that children can learn anything if they really want to.

We set up a team blog to cover the event - the bloggers are shown discussing in the photo (by Cecile Gouzee, French-speaking Belgian NSS). On the blog you can find out more about the exhibitions, workshops and plenary sessions, including the powerpoints.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Mexican Student Builds Eco-Video Game

via TreeHugger on 19/02/08

ship-shop-video-game.jpg Photo credit: ITESO
José Carlos Rivera, a student studying computer science at the Western Institute of Technology and Higher Education in the city of Guadalajara, has designed a game entitled Ship Shop, offering players a kind of eco-justice perhaps unattainable in the real world, according to the Mexican daily Reforma. In the game, the hero tries to vanquish polluting criminals, and while he's completing the mission the player is edified by pop-up tips ...

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Video clip for Safer Internet Day

More info on Safer Internet:

New guide for parents and children on Internet safety:

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

LeMill - European community of learning resources growing

Via FLOSSE Posse I heard that LeMill, the European community of learning resources has now reached 2,000 members.

Interestingly, Teemu states 'The growth is not created by the citizens of the wealthy "old Europe" (France, Germany, UK, Netherlands, Sweden, Finland, etc.) but by the new Europe: the Baltic countries and the Eastern European countries."

Hans’ and Tarmo’s LeMill presentation for Czech teachers in Brno, Czech Republic on February 7th 2008.

Teemu's statement mirrors what I observe in educational projects run by European Schoolnet. Teachers from the new member states are keen to try new approaches and get involved in international learning communities. The 'old' member states seem much more limited to monolinguist online communities - i.e. communities of German-speaking, English-speaking or French-speaking educators.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Science Education in Europe: Critical Reflections

ESERA recently alerted me to this new report: "The report highlights the major issues confronting formal secondary science education, identifies similarities and differences between countries, and makes a series of recommendations for improvement in key areas."

Download the report