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Centre (NECTEC) is responsible for all kinds of ICT development in Thailand (see the English version of the website, no longer updated)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."