Documents 1.a: What is eTwinning?

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One autumn afternoon in 1985, Europe appeared before me in the form of an exchange student. A classmate introduced us to an English boy who had come to his house and to study at our school for a term. I remember it seemed like a fascinating and unattainable dream. My family could not afford it and, even if I could have had a grant, I certainly could not imagine an English boy at home having Spanish omelette for dinner with us every single night. More than 20 years have gone by and this autumn my dream is finally coming true as a Comenius project. Now I have a permanent position as a primary PE teacher in Náquera, I can set my mid and long-term goals; I do not want to miss any more chances to take part in joint educational projects offered by the European Commission with other Union countries. The first step was to launch the proposal to take part in some educational action of the Commission before other teachers in my school. Once we had their support and approval, the second step was to register in the eTwinning portal. The third step before the project presentation was to search for partners. Now we shall formally create the project and, lastly, if everything goes well, we shall implement it at the beginning of academic year 09/10. I have used these Christmas holidays to make a present to myself: to register in eTwinning. The gift turned out to be even better than I expected when I started receiving messages from other portal members. I must say I even felt emotional when I saw that people from such diverse places as the United Kingdom, Romania, Greece or Turkey are interested in my proposal for a Traditional Games and Sports Exchange project. In a few days I will return to school with a huge smile on my face and I will tell the other teachers everything about it. A new year is starting, where dreams may come true.

Juan Dols

CP "Emilio Lluch de Náquera" (Valencia, Spain)

(Published in the blog eTwinning España)


What is eTwinning?

The 'eTwinning' project is an initiative that promotes the establishment of School Twinnings and the development of collaborative projects through the Internet between two or more schools in different European countries to deal with any topic agreed on by the participants. It started in 2005 as an essential part of the 'eLearning' programme, and since 2007 it is integrated in the Lifelong Learning Programme as an accompaniment to 'Comenius'. As such, it is a decentralised action and therefore not necessarily coordinated by the National Agencies of the Lifelong Learning Programme. Their role within this action will be studied in another section of this unit. eTwinning is organised on a European level by the 'Central Support Service' (SCA), whose central offices are in Brussels (, and in the national scope it is coordinated by the respective National Support Services. In Spain, the 'National Support Service' (SNA) is integrated in the 'National Institute of Educational Technologies and Teacher Training' of the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport in coordination with all counties ( Since its creation, eTwinning has been constantly growing. In these seven years, eTwinning has bought together more than 175000 members from all over Europe, who are involved in 2550 active projects. In Spain there are more than 7100 registered schools and 13900 teachers. The number of active projects has reached 700.

And these figures are constantly increasing. In order to see the current number of participants, you can visit the Central Service website, .

eTwinning is aimed at all educational levels prior to university. All areas, subjects and occupational families in Infant, Primary and Secondary Education can participate in the eTwinning programme. The working languages are those which the partners want to use; naturally including Spanish, which is being used more and more in Europe as is reflected in the eTwinning projects.

The number of participating countries has also increased to 33. The latest country to join the program has been the Republic of Macedonia in 2012. The complete list is as follows:

Germany Austria Bulgaria
Belgium Cyprus Croatia
Denmark Slovakia Slovenia
Spain Estonia Finland
France Greece Hungary
Ireland Iceland Italy
Latvia Lithuania Luxembourg
Malta Norway The Netherlands
Poland Portugal The United Kingdom
The Czech Republic Republic of Macedonia
Switzerland Sweden

What is an eTwinning project?

An eTwinning project is a collaborative project between two or more European schools from different countries about a previously arranged topic. Collaboration is done through an Internet platform and thanks to other ICT tools. Although from the beginning there have been changes and progress has been made in eTwinning tools, the basis for the project remains the same. In the next units of this course we will study all these aspects in detail, but they can provide a context for the rest of this unit. Since a teacher gets in touch with eTwinning for the first time until a project is completed, several stages are dealt with, with tools and functions for different levels of privacy. From a lower to a higher level of privacy, they are as follows:

  1. Sites: The first contact with eTwinning is done through sites, both the Spanish one ( and the European one ( They both offer users news, interesting information, ideas and support, all offered to the public and available to anyone who may access the sites. From here onward we can access the next stage.
  2. Register: Users register in eTwinning, providing some personal data and information about the school. They insert their data, they complete a profile and explain what ideas they want to deal with in the project. Immediate access is given to the personal desktop, with a user name and a password, although the National Services verify the data.
  3. Desktop: It is the platform used to get in touch with other teachers, share and discuss ideas, create groups and, lastly, start a project. It has tools such as the partner search, forum, internal messaging, contact list or the management of the actual profile. 1. Once registered, the teacher can participate in the eTwinning Groups, the Learning Events or create a Teachers’ Room, independently from the beginning of a project.
  4. Project registration: If you have found someone to work with and have reached an agreement as to how you wish to do so, it is time to register the project. Like until the present moment, everything is done through the desktop. The only essential requirement for a project to be passed is to have two teachers from two different countries. These teachers are the 'founding members'. Once the project has been passed, other teachers can join in, regardless of the number or nationality ('annex partners'). No prior assessment of the projects is required; in general, all projects are passed, as long as they comply with the previous condition and deal with contents and objectives that are acceptable in teaching practice. Before passing the project, the National Support Service, in collaboration with the counties, then verifies the data again to make sure they are right and that the school knows about the existence of the project.
  5. TwinSpace: Once the project has been approved by the two National Support Services from the countries of the two founding partners, two work spaces are generated: the Project Diary (Twinblog) and TwinSpace. The first one is a blog where member teachers can leave comments on the stages and the most important details regarding project development. 'TwinSpace' is a collaborative work platform: a safe environment that students can access and work in. This space can only be accessed by those participants that have been given permits by the teachers: other teachers, students, parents... These teachers have complete control over the users' permits. There are communication tools (e-mail, forum, chat) and a content manager to share documents, photos, sounds, etc. All these contents may be made public or kept private.

The environments which we have mentioned in the previous paragraphs are easily distinguishable for their design and colour. We will analyze them in detail in the next units.

eTwinning Pedagogical Bases

We must not forget that the eLearning programme, where eTwinning was a central action, appears as a need in the educational field to give an answer to the European Union demand to train its citizens in basic competences. These competences are set as follows:

- Competence in linguistic communication

- Mathematical competence

- Competence in the knowledge and interaction with the physical world

- Treatment of digital information and communication 

- Competence to learn to learn

- Social and citizenship competence

- Personal autonomy and initiative

- Cultural and artistic competence

From here on, eTwinning is structured around three main axes that are closely connected:

  1. European dimension
  2. Use of ICTs
  3. Collaborative work

'European dimension'

eTwinning is a community formed by teachers and students from 32 European countries. For the former, it is a place to meet partners from other countries, share ideas, discuss common interests and create joint projects. For students, it is a chance to open the doors to the classroom and get in touch with a reality that, in most cases, we do not know about directly. Having a person on the other side of the screen who belongs to another cultural and linguistic community but who, however, shares common objectives, makes us use certain negotiation strategies that consider linguistic and cultural competences.

'Use of ICTs'

In a society where ICTs have become a common tool in almost all activities, the classroom is still one of the places with a lower level of implementation of computer-based tools. At this regard, eTwinning provides a good means to integrate ICTs in teaching. On the one hand, it is created to develop curricular contents. On the other, it offers a platform and easy-to-use, safe and virtual tools, with a support team that counsels those teachers who request it. Flexibility in the kind of projects that may be carried out allows us to adapt to the available means, the kind of students, the level of access to the equipment… Therefore, it is an ideal programme to develop digital competence, for instance.

Collaborative work

This is an essential aspect in an eTwinning project, which, in fact, is dealt with in a specific section later on. The communication tools and the contact with people from other cultures make full sense within a collaborative context. But this concept goes beyond coordination. In a good eTwinning project, collaboration is organised on different levels: amongst teachers, to agree on some contents, objectives and methodologies to satisfy everyone's ambitions and needs; between students and teachers, where both groups come up with ideas and initiatives, design the project jointly and assess it; amongst students, both in the school itself and between twinned schools. In the last case, the idea is not just to carry out equivalent activities and then share the results. In order to achieve real cooperation, students are to work jointly to produce results that reflect everyone's contributions. That way, there is real contact and intercultural negotiation, and a significant use is made of the ICT tool interaction possibilities.

Features and types of projects

Two of eTwinning's most valued features are the absence of paperwork and its flexibility. All administrative documents to be filled in for eTwinning are done online and are limited to the registration as a user and further project registration. The National Support Service and Counties check and validate the data, but this process does not exist as far as teachers are concerned. From here onward, there are no more compulsory forms to be filled in regarding expense details or memorandums. Only if the teacher wishes to obtain some kind of acknowledgement will he or she have to fill in the corresponding documents. We will deal with this acknowledgement and how to get it later on. eTwinning is not subjected to summons or deadlines. This provides the programme with great flexibility. Indeed, an eTwinning project can be started any time of the year and can last as long as teachers want. The initial plan may also be revised. Depending on how the project is going, teachers may decide to end it before time or extend it, accept new partners, etc. Basically, if a project is not working as expected and there is no solution, it only has to be closed and a new one can be started.

Regarding the types of projects, the flexibility we referred to before offers a wide range of possibilities, both in terms of subjects and fields that the participants work on. They are all accepted in eTwinning and there are examples of good results for all cases. Therefore, we can find projects involving only one field or subject, several or the entire syllabus, cross-curricular topics or other aspects of school life, such as library or school organisation… Participant profiles are also varied. Here are some of the combinations:

  1. Teachers and groups of students: This is the most common type of project in eTwinning. Two teachers from different schools agree to jointly develop certain aspects of the syllabus. Within this group, we can also find projects with an interdisciplinary content involving several teachers of different subjects in each school or projects developed by teachers of the same department, developing contents in one subject or field in/with different groups from the same school.
  2. Groups of teachers: A group of teachers with common interests (subjects, fields, European projects, cross-curricular topics…) are gathered in one single project and share information, materials, discussions, etc. in a common collaborative space (TwinSpace). These projects can involve quite a lot of members and are a good starting point to start other eTwinning projects with students.
  3. Management teams, counsellors, library supervisors: The members of these teams can find European colleagues using the partner search and start common projects working in their respective fields of action. There is a wide range of objectives and contents: comparing educational systems, exchange of good practices, establishing common actions and measures or creating a context that could host other projects and that involves students and teachers from participant schools.

What does eTwinning offer its participants?

eTwinning is based on two main services: counselling and training and acknowledgment and visibility. Both are offered from the National Support Service and the Central Service and are specified in different ways.

Counselling and training

  1. Distance Training Course: The National Support Service makes an annual summons of one or two editions of the eTwinning 2.0 training course, which is created and approved by the Educational Technology Institute, in cooperation with all Counties. On the other hand, course materials are made available to all those who are interested - even if they have not enrolled - at the SNA  site ( For further information on this course, please visit this page or the INTEFP Teacher Training site ( ).
  2. eTwinning Educational Meetings: Organised by the Central Support Service, these meetings are held online and led by experts in the corresponding subjects. They last one to two weeks. Here, teachers get to know each other, they share materials, discuss, create and comment.
  3. Information provided online or over the telephone: You can always make any inquiry to the SNA at these e-mail addresses: The CONTACT section on the Home page of the Spanish eTwinning portal allows you to leave a message with a question which will be answered by a member of the NSS.. You may also call +34 913778377 . And if you look on the left side of this wiki there is also the contact with the NSS.
  4. Kits: Both the Spanish and European sites publish ideas to carry out projects or activities. They deal with various topics and are a guide to teachers. They are known as 'Kits' (for completed projects) and “Modules” (for concrete activities which can be integrated into projects). On the Spanish portal, the modules EXPERIENCIES and IDEAS offer simple activities, outstanding projects and award winning projects which can serve as a model or example for a future project.
  5. Chat: The SNA organises periodical encounters through Skype. These encounters are advertised on the website in advance. Should to wish to take part, you must install the programme (, search for and add eTwinning Information as a new contact (info_etwinning).
  6. Project Diary: It is a blog that is presented in reverse chronological order, where partners can comment on the most important aspects and the most relevant details in the development of the project in its different stages. The posts added by a partner can be commented by other partners or users. Once the project has been completed, it can become a very valuable document for assessment. (See unit 6, Documents 6.d).
  7. Project cards. They are a direct communication tool between a teacher with an active project and his/her National Support Service. They are easy to use and through them a teacher can pose the NSS all his/her doubts regarding the technical and pedagogical aspects of the project; the NSS follows up the cards, answers and provides the help required. This means of communication can only be used by the project partners and their respective NSS.

Acknowledgement and visibility

  1. eTwinning label: Whenever a project has been approved and starts to work, it obtains an eTwinning label. This Label comes in an electronic format and can be downloaded from the teacher's desktop.
  2. National Quality Label: Teachers may request their National Support Services to be awarded a Quality Label. It is given to those projects that reach a certain level of quality. The entire process is done from the user's desktop. There are some common criteria for all participating countries, which appear on the online form. In order to read these criteria and the specifications made by the Spanish SNA, go to Quality Label Criteria. This document is also a useful guide to teachers starting a new project.
  3. European Quality Label: Whenever a project receives at least two National Qualiy Labels from two different European countries, it will automatically be awarded the European Quality Label.
  4. National Awards: The Spanish SNA makes an annual summons of the National eTwinning Awards. The criteria are similar to those stated for the Quality Label but in this case the number is limited (usually 10 projects are awarded). There are three age categories (4 to 11; 12 to 15; 16 to 19). Also this year for the first time there is a prize category for novice teachers.The usual award is to invite the supervisors to the Annual eTwinning Conference, where the European Awards are given and other activities are carried out.
  5. European Awards: also, the Central Support Service annually summons the European eTwinning Awards. There are three age categories (4 to 11; 12 to 15; 16 to 19).  In the last calls for award proposals, prizes have been given to projects on Mathematics and Sciences, in the French and in the Spanish language. Two projects are selected per category. The prize is the invitation from the CSS to the finalist teachers and pupils to attend the Annual eTwinning Conference. For a project to be able to opt for these prizes it is imperative for them to have previously obtained a European Quality Label.
  6. In addition to this, there may be other special categories. In the latest summons, awards were given to Maths and Science, French and Spanish. Two projects are chosen per category. The prize is the attendance of teachers and runner-up students to the Annual eTwinning Conference, to which they are invited by the CSS. To make a project eligible to these awards, it must have previously been given a European Quality Label.
  7. Galleries: Project galleries comply with both visibility and counselling functions. The Central and National Services acknowledge good practice by exhibiting the projects in different galleries. At the same time, these projects are suggested as an example and inspiration for teachers in search for ideas. The Central Service page exhibits the projects selected by the different National Services, as well as those that have obtained the European Award or Label. On the Central Service website you can see those projects chosen by the different National Services, as well as those who have obtained an Award or European Quality Label. The Spanish National Support Service has several modules: “Project of the month”, "Featured projects", "Best bits", "eTwinning Awards", advice on how to use ICT tools...

What do teachers think?

The winners of the2011 European prizes tell us of their experiences in eTwinning.

Opinions of the teachers who participated in the workshop “Multilateral eTwinning 2011: Let’s collaborate in Spanish, the objective of which was to promote collaboration among the attending countries through the development of eTwinning projects in Spanish.

Mª Jesús Campos Fernández a teacher at the IES Parque de Lisboa school in Alcorcón (Madrid) presented her eTwinning project "European Cities Past and Present" at the ICT Integration in Education 2 workshop held on the CRIF Las Acacias de Madrid, the last june.

eTwinning on the TVE channel 2 show La aventura del saber

La aventura del saber

Back to Unit 1 Next: Documents 1.b: Collaborative learning

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