Monday, June 18, 2012

Social Analytics for eTwinning

For the eTwinning report in 2011, I worked on creating a conceptual framework for eTwinning Analytics with a little "proof of concept"-study. The report itself is only for internal use, but we re-worked it into a research paper. The paper contributes to the field of Learning Analytics, which is pretty hot right now (see LAK12). This combines my personal research interests as well as my work (e.g. the Tellnet project, monitoring eTwinning).

An interesting thing about the framework is that we build it around the OECD‘s indices for teachers’ co-operation. This was one of the outcomes of the TALIS study which is one of my favourites. The TALIS study takes a wide look into teaching as a profession in a number of OECD countries. 

The definition of eTwinning Analytics follows the one from G.Siemens (2010) on Learning Analytics in general:
eTwinning Analytics focuses on the measurement, collection, analysis and reporting of data about eTwinners and their contexts, for purposes of understanding and optimising their co-operation and the environment in which it occurs. The goal of eTwinning Analytics, therefore, is to offer eTwinning stakeholders better tools to monitor the action through emerging trends and patterns upon which they can better base their decisions.

The paper can be downloaded here!

Social Learning Analytics to study Teachers’ Large-scale Professional Networks  
{Riina.Vuorikari, Santi.Scimeca}  

Abstract. A growing interest in research focuses on teachers’ large-scale socio- technical networks. Social learning approaches such as social constructivist theory is well established, however, the current challenges lie in creating reliable methods to gather evidence of how and under which conditions social learning takes place in such socio-technical networks and how does it support teachers’ lifelong learning goals. The field of Learning Analytics (LA) addresses the issue of individual learners, whereas Social Learning Analytics (SLA) addresses that of groups’ processes in knowledge construction. 

 The eTwinning action is used as a case study for applying the concepts of Social Learning Analytics. Our interest is on teachers’ co-operation behaviour and patterns within a socio-technical network and how that can support teachers’ continuous professional development. The eTwinning platform currently hosts more than 160000 European teachers. We first introduce the underlying pedagogical and lifelong learning related assumptions regarding teachers’ co- operation. To better understand the type of activities that teachers undertake in eTwinning, they are classified according to the OECD‘s indices for teachers’ co-operation. This creates the core of the eTwinning Analytics framework, which operationalises activities and allows them to be better measured and monitored. A snapshot of data from the platform is used as a proof of concept.

A set of case studies focusing on "school teams"

As part of my assignments for 2012, I'm running a set of case studies on eTwinning school teams. The full set of case studies will be published on the eTwinning website and a sub-set will become a printed publication. They will come out at the end of 2012. The objective of these case studies is: to better understand eTwinning teams in schools; to analyse existing models of school team in eTwinning, andto understand what makes them work (enablers) and what not (inhibitors).
The case study framework includes the following aspects:
  • Different models of school teams (i.e. whole school approach lead by a school head vs. teacher-led innovation) and the proportion of teachers in the school who are part of the school team 
  • What kind of roles exist in teams within school and outside of school (involvement of internal and external actors in the school team)
  • School organisational climate (e.g. vision on ICT integration, international collaboration, cross-curricular work, the whole school approach, history of innovation), 
  • Organisation of learning (layout of the learning units; allocation of students into learning groups) both in school and out of school. 
  • Infrastructure and resources (not only technical, but also physical, like libraries, etc) used within eTwinning teams both in school and out of school. 
  • Other conditions: Teachers PD, peer-learning opportunities within the school, national and local policies enabling/ encouraging the teamwork 
To conceive the framework, I went through a bunch of papers and studies, out of which I was most inspired by this set of studies:

Forkosh-Baruch, A., Nachmias, R., & Mioduser, D. (2008). Innovative pedagogical practices using technology: Cross-case analysis of the SITESm2 data. Presented at the 3rd IEA International Research Conference, Taipei, Chinese Taipei. Retrieved from

Forkosh-Baruch, A., Nachmias, R., Mioduser, D., & Tubin, D. (2005). “Islands of Innovation”and “School-Wide Implementations”: Two Patterns of ICT-based Pedagogical Innovations in Schools. An Interdisciplinary Journal on Humans in ICT Environments, 1(2), 202–215.

Nachmias, R., Mioduser, D., Cohen, A., Tubin, D., & Forkosh-Baruch, A. (2004). Factors Involved in the Implementation of Pedagogical Innovations Using Technology. Education and Information Technologies, 9(3), 291–308. doi:10.1023/B:EAIT.0000042045.12692.49

I also have been following up the Innovative Teaching and Learning (ITL) Research project for inspiration. 

Opening the teachers' professional development workshop on eTwinning

Last week about 80 teachers from various European countries gathered in Lithuania for a 3-day teachers' professional development workshop. I had the honor to give the opening speech in the event which focused on the eTwinning school collaboration in the field of STEM. eTwinning is "the community for schools in Europe", currently more than 160000 teachers have signed up. STEM fields stand for Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths.

In my presentation, I highlighted what are the good ingredients of an eTwinning school project. For this purpose, I "demystified" one of the awarded eTwinning projects in math (ATOM - a taste of math) using this video as an example.

I also talked about the importance of teachers' collaboration, both across schools and within the school. The main campaign in eTwinning this year is about school teams. By the end of the year, we will have a set of case studies from about 20 European countries on how eTwinning school teams work - a great way to highlight good practices but also to analyse different models.

Enjoy the slides of the opening speech below!Twinning PDW on STEM

Friday, June 01, 2012

Country monographs on synergies between teachers’ professional development and eTwinning

The eTwinning report Teachers’ professional development – An overview of current practice was published by European Schoolnet in December 2010, it aims at understanding how eTwinning and national and local teachers’ professional development schemes interact. The report focused on three case studies, namely on Estonia, Poland and Spain.

The report, called "Teachers’ Professional Development: an overview of current practice" can be downloaded in different languages as a pdf file here:  DE, EN, ES, FR, IT
Here is the reference in APA style: 
Vuorikari, R. (2010). eTwinning Report 2010: Teachers’ professional development: an overview of current practice. European Schoolnet.