Constructionism in Action within European eTwinning Projects

Constructionism in Action within European eTwinning Projects

Elzbieta Gajek (Warsaw University, Poland)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61350-065-1.ch006
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Abstract

The European eTwinning programme, as part of the Lifelong Learning action has reached thousands of schools in Europe and beyond. It becomes a cultural trend in education where various theoretical grounds, managerial ideas, and practical solutions meet. Thus, in this chapter, eTwinning is presented as a practical collaborative implementation of ICT tools in education. Furthermore, an attempt to theorize it as an emerging trend, which combines communicative approaches to language learning, is made, including constructivist ideas – both social and cognitive, followed by constructionism as the key background concepts. A reference to other concepts, such as European Key Competences for Lifelong Learning and the feminist angle is made to contextualize the situation in schools. The conceptual framework is linked with the school practice in the ICT-based learning environment within the eTwinning programme. Further description, case studies, and evaluation of the results will be presented.
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Theoretical Background

Anne Gilleran (2010) – Head of the Central Support Service of eTwinning – stated that when European Schoolnet answered the European Commission’s call in 2004, the aim of the programme was perceived as a means of empowering learners through technology. Thus, originally it is rooted in practice rather than in theory. However, whilst looking at the activities from the perspectives of pedagogical and methodological theories, it turns out that various theoretical approaches interrelate in eTwinning projects, despite the fact that teaching practitioners’ focus is on tasks suitable for the needs of their learners, not especially on implementation of any theory. In the process of explaining the phenomenon, two sets of theoretical approaches are of particular interest. The first one is constructionism with its precedents – Vygotskian social constructivism and Piagetian cognitive constructivism. The second set of approaches comes from the methodology of teaching foreign languages, namely the communicative approach, which is task-based, project-based and co-operative language learning. The third argument that is worth mentioning in the analysis of the learning environment within the eTwinning programme comes from policy makers who have adopted key competences as the basis for education of the future.

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