About my research

My research was set in the context of the European Commission’s eTwinning initiative and it looked specifically at the use of eTwinning Learning Events (non-formal learning). It examined how the community influences the development of teachers’ competence in online collaboration and discourse, and it considered the contribution of social aspects and online moderation.

I am very grateful to my supervisor, Dr. Julie-Ann Sime from Lancaster University, and to my eTwinning soulmate, Tiina Sarisalmi, for their invaluable support. And to my examiners, Prof. Marilyn Leask from the University of Bedfordshire and Dr. Don Passey from the University of Lancaster, for their valuable advice.
Keywords: online learning communities; community of inquiry; online collaboration; content analysis; social presence; social ties; teacher training

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Postcard from Budapest

I'am in Budapest for the annual eTwinning conference, with around 600 teachers, pupils and support staff from across Europe. These conferences are always great events for networking and for meeting pioneering teachers using technology in the classroom, but this year was made rather special by the presence of pupils from schools involved in eTwinning projects.

We had an inspirational presentation from Tim Rylands with an array of free web 2.0 tools that can be used by teachers to inspire children and to encourage them to be creative, to collaborate and to share. His presentation was notable for me on for three points:
  • inspiration: how good teaching can inspire pupils and this is precisely what I remember from school
  • standing still: the need for learners to stop every so often, to simply take in what is happening around them and to reflect
  • getting beyond the 'wow factor': raising the level of pupil's engagement and critical thinking beyond the simple enjoyment that they get from using technology; this again resonates with the work I am doing in my research, although I am mainly focusing on adults (the teachers themselves)
Tiina and I held a workshop entitled eLearning 2.0 in which we combined our thinking on learning online, in communities with peers. Rather than focus on web 2.0 technologies, much to the disappointment perhaps of some participants, we looked at the pedagogical and organisational consequencies for teachers. Tiina presented good practice from her perspective as an expert teacher in this area and I reinforced this with results from the Learning Events held with teachers last year. My contribution was purposefully non-academic and perhaps more direct or prescriptive than one can be in an academic journal. Any way it went very well, according to the feedback we received; so well we did it twice addressing around 80 teachers in total. Phew

My thanks to Tiina for a great collaboration. It is always a pleasure to work with her :)



  1. It was so nice seeing you again, and now reading you. Stimulating angle on Mr Rylands' presentation! Intriguing workshop - I have seen the slideshare... - a few rules for online facilitation have caught my eye. Thank you,

  2. Excellent Daniela, glad it was useful. It was great to see you in Budapest, being so busy with your workshops