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.


manish said...

I completely agree with post, now days online learning is very important specially in countries like India where online learning requires media attentian and awareness among school going children. Sites like provides all kind of study help for students.

D A Kinane said...

The e-twinning initiative is only open to EU partner countries unfortunately. But I know that e-twining works as I have been doing it with Meadowbank Students in Auckland and Woodford School students in the UK for nearly two years now.

We have even expanded the project to virtual teaching and have been using/experimenting with a range of web2.0 tools to facilitate this.

Helen Hardie and I presented a paper on just this subject at VIASL 08, Prague in June this year. If you would like to know how and what we have done please contact us.

The work of the students can be found at:

We have found that the students find this kind of work extremely engaging.

Lexa said...

actually eTwinning can bring in countries outside the EU as long as there are at least two EU schools in the partnership. so if you extend the project to include one more country, you could register there too. Your paper sounds really interesting, I'll get in touch to know more!

D A Kinane said...

Alexa, I have been following your blog via my Netvibes account for some months now. The entire conference proceedings, including a video of my presentation and the paper itself will be located at Keep in touch I would love to start to make links with European schools, I know that Helen would love to do that too, and t would be easier for her with only a one hour time difference.