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

Wednesday, 22 August 2012


I've almost made the changes needed to my thesis to address the minor modifications requested of my external examiners, Prof. Marilyn Leask from the University of Bedfordshire and Dr. Don Passey from the University of Lancaster .

It took quite a lot of work to revise the thesis, I would say around week in total, but well worth it. I feel that the quality is again improved - I already benefited a lot from the support I received from my supervisor, Dr. Julie-Ann Sime.

I am impressed by the level of detail to which the examiners went. It suggests that they invested a lot of time in reading the thesis. This was also noticeable in the viva which lasted a couple of hours and was a detailed 'conversation' about my research. It was an enjoyable experience - not often that one can say that about an oral exam!

The examiners were enthusiastic about my work and have encouraged me to publish. They suggested three main areas to be addressed in finalising the thesis:

  • summarise the main conclusions of my research as an emerging model for eTwinning Learning Events and their online moderation;
  • explain in more detail what I mean by social constructivism and link it to the work of Vygotsky;
  • address the issue of gender balance and its possible impact on my research, given that almost 90% of participants in the LEs were female.

The first point is particularly interesting as it has encouraged me to summarise my analysis as a short set of guidelines which will hopefully have some practical use in the future. Moreover, I can refer to these in future presentations and papers.

The third point was also stimulating as it made me think about an area of research that I have not addressed, namely gender. After talking to colleagues at EUN, I was reminded about a document produced by Eurydice which includes information about teachers in education in Europe (EU, 2012). It reports that over 60% of all teachers in primary and secondary education in Europe are women and in some countries the majority is as high as 80%. I do not have data to talk about gender issues, however the Eurydice report does suggest that the situation in eTwinning is representative of the situation in Europe overall.

When my thesis is finally accepted, I intend to make it public. Until then, happy researching.


EU (2012) Key Data on Education in Europe 2012, Brussels, Eurydice [online], http://eacea.ec.europa.eu/education/eurydice/documents/key_data_series/134EN.pdf (Accessed 10.08.2012).