As experienced teachers we know that processes, experiences, organic systems, informal learning and intangible outcomes are as important as content, structures, ordered systems, formal learning and measurable outcomes. So what we actually did during our two-year strategic partnership was looking for synergy between new and traditional ways of teaching and learning.
The main focus of our project lay on responsible use of modern technology, effective application of information and media, democratic citizenship and intercultural competence. We asked numerous important questions, to which we sought answers in a friendly, non-formal atmosphere. Some of us learned more, others less, but everyone picked up something valuable for themselves.
We applied the model of knowledge construction, real-world problem-solving, self-regulation and skilled communication via high technology, promoted by Microsoft Educator Network. Not only did we engage in interdisciplinary workshops to explore familiar things in new context, but we also worked on innovation in familiar context. Learner and teacher autonomy were major themes for us, too. That we used ICT for learning is quite well shown on the example of this very website. And the e-book.
The students who participated in the project got better at intercultural communication, and they grew more flexible and adaptable, self-motivated and responsible — all highly appreciated qualities in the modern job market. The teachers, on the other hand, developed their professional skills, broadened their experience and enjoyed variation in their everyday classroom practice.
Did we succeed? We believe so. Most of us joined the project because we knew what the benefits of an Erasmus+ strategic partnership were. Others drew inspiration from our partnership to grow more knowledgeable about contemporary literacy. Still others simply gathered momentum.
Our partnership did promote democracy, equality, solidarity and respect for other cultures, which made our enterprise a true Erasmus+ project.
The CLICK team
Taking into consideration the fact that the meeting in Denmark was the last LTTA with students, we felt nostalgic about the thought that our project was about to finish. The activities we developed during the whole week, however, surpassed our expectations in many ways.
The topic of our meeting “Political and Intercultural Literacy” was not very easy, and we had to prepare and make some research before the meeting. Even if the topic seemed difficult, our hosts, 10iCampus from Varde, managed to raise interest among teachers and students who were present in Denmark through the activities which were very well prepared for the entire week.
Both students and teachers participated in very interesting activities on critical thinking and problem solving. They took part in several debates on immigration and refugees. The students were provoked to make up their minds about intercultural awareness, and they were encouraged to think in a critical and relevant way. We hope that they will become good and responsible citizens in Europe and all over the world.
One of our favourite activities was “The Speakers Corner”, where students had the feeling of being part of a play that took place in Hyde Park, London. They also got a feeling of importance of the freedom of speech.
After this LTTA both students and teachers (why not?!) had a clearer clue as to what citizenship and politics are and how difficult it is to talk about many problems the world is currently facing. Furthermore, the students gained more experience in what democracy is and how it works. All in all, our political knowledge improved.
The students and teachers involved were not only trained, but also acquired new skills and competences. This meeting and the whole project helped us to understand better the world we live in.
Raluca – Oana Horvat and Mihaela Jarcau
Technical College “Mihai Bacescu”, Falticeni, Romania
I’d like to reflect on the experience I had as a student and as a person. I’d like to say that this kind of project makes everyone grow in all perspectives.
Being part of this project has helped me make many very good friends and develop my English skills. It has taught me how to make my own decisions, work in groups and enjoy all these little moments and opportunities that may come into one’s life probably once only.
I lack the words to define what the trip and the project means to me, but I can say that it was a unique and enriching experience of continuous learning.
In transnational groups we discussed many new topics. We also debated important issues of our societies that universally concern people of all ages. We exchanged our viewpoints and learned from each other. As we came together from different countries, we learned to love and respect each other and the cultures we represent much better.
This trip taught me how to travel. Also, I discovered other cultures, their ways of life and new types of food. I visited beautiful places, got to know fantastic people and made friends forever. I enjoyed countless special moments, speaking English, being myself and I learned in every way.
Thank you for letting me be part of this project. It has been one of the best experiences of my life.
Beatriz Penado from Spain
Technological improvements have affected educational environments as it does in every field of our lives. As a physics teacher, I have been happily enjoying the benefits of technological equipment, such as smart boards, 3D writers and software as well. For example, my students started to understand abstract topics more easily when I use simulation programmes. Besides, they can see the product of the calculations and equations when they produce a model with a 3D writer by using those equations. These technological devices and software have become an important element in education, but I also think that traditional methods, even note taking instead of copying a text from a web page, have preserved their importance in education.
I believe that we can move to a higher understanding and capacity by improving our digital and technology literacy. On the other hand, we should keep the strong points of our long-life teaching and learning techniques. All in all, we should select the beneficial methods of the new and the traditional, and combine them according to the features and aims of our lessons. There is no totally bad or totally good method in education.
By Selda Elmas (Teacher of Physics)
Tevfik Seno Arda Anadolu Lisesi
Many think that today’s education system is failing today’s learners. They believe that school fails to prepare young people for the contemporary job market as the 20th century learning materials and the 19th century teaching methods are still in use. ‘Student centred approach’ rather than ‘teacher centred approach’ has been the big idea for quite some time now. Moreover, teaching collaboration, knowledge construction, real-world problem solving, innovation and skilled communication rather than the three Rs (reading, writing and arithmetic) has been intensely promoted among schools worldwide.
Recently, however, the focus has shifted towards learning as such. What does it mean? According to cognitive psychology, it is about attention, language use, memory, perception, problem solving, creativity and thinking. In order to notice and take in new information, process and memorise it, and finally reconstruct knew knowledge, one needs to work hard and face a number of challenges. It takes purposefulness, responsibility, setting the learning goals, initiative in planning and executing learning activities, self-evaluation and self-management – all keywords for a concept they call ‘learner autonomy’.
The Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics winner Daniel Kahnemann writes in his book Thinking, Fast and Slow that most people tend to use their fast, instinctive and emotional thinking more than their slower, more deliberative and logical thinking. Why? Because it is easier. Slow thinking is much harder. It requires attention and mental effort. So does effective learning.
Sometimes, however, hard work can be turned into something wonderful. So, when people focus on an activity so deeply that nothing else matters, it highly likely makes them feel happy. The Hungarian psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi describes this feeling as ‘flow’. He claims that the state of ‘flow’ feeds intrinsic motivation. And intrinsic motivation is something that learner autonomy is based on.
Professor David Little defines learner autonomy as learner responsibility. He writes that an autonomous learner a) understands the purpose of their learning programme, b) explicitly accepts responsibility for their learning, c) shares in the setting of learning skills, d) shows initiative in planning and completing learning activities, and e) regularly reviews their learning outcomes. Little suggests that autonomous learners are likely to be more efficient and effective as they are reflectively engaged with their learning. They are more focused as their learning contexts serve their wider agendas. Little concludes that an autonomous learner should not have any motivation problems as they are proactively committed to their learning already.
We strongly believe in learning as hard cognitive effort, so we fully support the ideas generated by Kahnemann, Csikszentmihalyi and Little. Moreover, we’re convinced that promoting learner autonomy is the approach that brings success in every teacher’s daily practice.
The CLICK team
The internet and social media were created for us to easily connect. Mobile devices allow us to connect quickly to people and information like never before. The result has left our minds constantly having to react to all the streaming live data and observe and interpret it as quickly as the next data stream comes. So, in this era that is dominated by constant information and a new way to be social, wouldn’t it naturally make sense that I as a teacher in a Danish school would change the way I interact with my students? They are, after all, at the centre of this cultural shift. So how do I build an engaging environment for today’s students?
My colleagues and I are now both motivated but also obliged to teach in a way that is innovative and allows the student to think independently. Our students should be able to respond to the data introduced to them as quickly and responsively as their short attention span allows.
The technology-enabled classroom offers access to information, but it also offers many more distractions. Games on devices, text messaging, email and websites all compete for students’ attention, taking that attention away from the subject on which they are supposed to be focusing. The technology can also lead to dangerous situations as students can be exposed to inappropriate online materials or predators in online places such as chat rooms. So what do we do?
There are many predictions about where education will be in the future. We may not know for sure quite yet, but one thing is guaranteed, technology in the classroom will be a part of it.
By Lene Dall Berthelsen
You cannot put this into words. You just have to know how it is.
And so, lord, what you are reading there is only the dirt they left behind them.
The Way of Chuang-Tzŭ by Thomas Merton
We understand that the art of teaching is dramatically changing. Like all other teachers, we’re changing, too. To explain this change is sometimes quite impossible. Still, we’re quite sure about the following:
- We’d like to change the way our students learn and teachers teach.
- Innovation is great, but traditional approaches to education are valid, too.
- We believe in a learning-centred school.
- Going digital won’t improve learning outcomes unless the principles of self-regulation and cognitive effort are applied.
- We stand for student and teacher autonomy.
We’ll be regularly reflecting on these five ideas as the project unfolds. Along the way, new discoveries as well as unexpected drawbacks are highly likely. Nevertheless, we’re looking forward to all these meaningful learning experiences, for we know that they’ll help us become better at what we do.
The CLICK team