Visibility of eTwinning Projects Group Newsletter no. 5 - July 2015 - Page 68

Visibility of eTwinning Projects Group July 2015 Newsletter -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------eTwinning teachers as realistic designers of learning environments by Mariella Fasanelli Last spring the Italian teachers’ association L.E.N.D., Lingua e Nuova didattica, Language and new Didactics, invited a few teachers – and I was among them – to keep some workshops for colleagues in the afternoon session of their Conference in Mestre dedicated to "Language teaching and new learning environments". The challenge appealed to me since the reflection upon how to improve our learning environment takes up much of my and my colleagues' working time. While preparing the workshop, the stimulating visualization made by Dr. Lennie Scott-Webber was a good starting point for me. As you can see there, three elements – pedagogy, technology and space – are on an equal footing in bringing about an active learning eco-system. more o less deeply innovate your teaching methods to meet the needs of learners living in a constantly and rapidly changing society (and, let me say that, teachers' needs for lifelong learning). Therefore it is up to us to make of our classroom "a place where learners may work together and support each other as they use a variety of tools and information resources in their guided pursuit of learning goals and problem-solving activities" (B.G. Wilson, Constructivist learning environments: Case studies in instructional design, 1996). As I often happen to say, eTwinning projects are not the panacea for all the problems at school but in my experience they help teachers set learnercentred environments and design guided learning paths promoting cooperative and peer learning, employing problem solving activities and enabling the use of many tools and information resources. eTwinning can support teachers in their effort at boosting the 21st century skills: ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ However, some questions may arise for most of us: can you easily access up-to-date hardware and software at school? are you entitled or allowed to physically modify our school environment in compliance with some of the most advanced conceptions of school architecture and design? Since most of us may not give a positive answer to these questions, I believe a realistic approach is strongly needed. That is why the title of my workshop in Mestre became "Teachers as realistic designers of new learning environments". To my eyes, realism and innovation must go hand in hand, thus if you cannot revolutionize either the technological equipment or the physical space, you may still 68